Four employees were selected for the November 2015 recognition. They were honored at the Nov. 24 school board meeting. Pictured from left to right are:

  • Laura Hamilton, teacher, Discovery Middle School
  • Jois Brownstein, teacher, Columbia River High School
  • Lori Padilla, English language learner coach, Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School
  • Curt Scheidel, principal, Jason Lee Middle School

The Excellence Award is given to two to four 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.

When people say, as they often do, that Jois is an incredible teacher, they’re talking about more than just her great technique. Jois possesses a skill that allows her to cultivate real, positive working relationships. Honed through instinct and years of practice, this skill creates a level of respect between teacher and student that both sides strive to uphold. She is firm when needed and always kind. Her lessons are interesting and engaging. Students ask to eat lunch with her and willingly stay after school to complete their work. She demands great work and her students deliver. Simply incredible!
Radiating positivity is just one of Laura’s many outstanding qualities that have captured attention and admiration. Her ability to find opportunities in every obstacle has made her a natural fit for the role of lead teacher in Discovery’s structured communications classroom. There, she has brought her considerable determination and heart to bear on the trajectories of autistic students, with impressive results. Every child deserves a safe, cohesive learning environment in Laura’s eyes, and she works hard to give it to them. She’s equally kind and respectful toward her co-workers. They say that she epitomizes the ideals of this award.
Lori has inspired both her co-workers and students with her passion for literacy and all things Anderson. Her work has helped the entire student body increase its vocabulary acquisition and comprehension through fun school-wide competitions, original jingles and innovative programs. When she’s not in a classroom, she’s working in the parent pickup area, making bulletin boards that showcase the school or creating mementos for departing colleagues. Her talents are matched only by her enthusiasm. Said one nominator, “You name it and Lori can do it—and inspire the rest of us to jump on board and do it, too!”
Thanks in large part to Curt’s leadership, Jason Lee has become a place where students and staff members can find their greatness. He walks the proverbial walk to make this happen. To improve homework completion rates, for example, he instituted mandatory assignment completion during lunch period and is one of several people who personally follow up with students. Curt also has been instrumental in creating an environment that encourages a growth mindset. The staff and students are given the freedom to try new approaches in order to increase learning. Clearly, Jason Lee has found a great leader in Curt.

Congratulations to these staff members! They join the more than 250 VPS employees who have received Excellence Awards since 2007.