The following employees were selected for the February 2019 Excellence Award recognition. They were honored at the Feb. 26 school board meeting. Pictured from left:

  • Jim Newman, building operator, Roosevelt Elementary
  • Kim Hansen, paraeducator, Hazel Dell Elementary
  • Lily Valencia, secretary, Harney Elementary
  • Morgan Sherve, teacher, Discovery Middle School
  • Veena Girod, math teacher, McLoughlin Middle School

The Excellence Award is given to five employees and/or small teams from October to May each school year. Nominations are open to staff, students, parents and community members. Nominees are selected for recognition by a committee of their peers.

According to her nominator, Veena is the heart of sixth grade at McLoughlin. Not only does she mentor new teachers, head up the social committee and provide professional development to her colleagues, she also demonstrates her commitment to student success by helping students with math before and after school and during lunches. Veena holds them to high standards and communicates well with parents. Said one of her co-workers, “She is the teacher we all strive to be!”

To provide extra support to fourth- and fifth-graders, Kim helped organize an after-school tutoring program called Math Camp. She worked long hours to prepare an engaging math curriculum, plan schedules and design activities and games. As a result, the camp was as fun as it was educational for both the campers and their volunteer high school math buddies. Kim has proven over and over again, in her words and actions, that she puts students’ needs first.

Not even the biggest spill can undermine Jim’s upbeat attitude. In fact, he’s so cheerful that he’s earned the nickname Happy Feet. That joy manifests in positive and sometimes unexpected ways, such as playing the alphabet song on his guitar and singing along with kindergartners. Said one of his co-workers, “I think the characteristics he has will enlighten the children’s feelings, showing the kids someone in the custodial department loves and cares about them.” Which makes everyone happy!
With great sensitivity and a persistent belief in students’ inherent talents, Morgan helps middle schoolers find their way in a new environment. She also excels in parent communication, recognizing families’ role in academic success. Said one parent, “She has really tried to understand my daughter, and seems to realize that we are shaping these kids to become responsible adults. I have been so impressed with all the extra effort and understanding she has put into helping my daughter.”
Often the first one to arrive in the morning and the last to leave, Lily is known as the backbone of Harney. Among many duties, she juggles multiple phone lines, responds to students and staff members and assists visitors in English or Spanish. Lily treats all families with respect and helps set the tone for a warm, friendly, professional experience at Harney. The staff loves her, and students look to connect with her throughout the day.

Congratulations to these staff members! They join the many VPS employees who have received Excellence Awards since 2007.