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Educator Awards 2021

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North Thurston's Jerad Koepp is selected as the 2022 Washington State Teacher of the Year

Jerad KoeppAs the district's Native Student Program specialist, Jerad Koepp provides cultural and academic support for about 230 Native students from over 50 tribes, nations, bands and villages.

In his nomination packet, students and colleagues speak of the 16-year veteran educator's ability to support Native education, culture and students.

"Growing up with his support throughout elementary school allowed me to have a place to feel comfortable in, laugh and be free," writes Ella, a high school senior that Koepp began teaching and mentoring when she was new to Evergreen Forest Elementary School. "He helped me with school supplies, and to connect me to what being Native American meant. His mentorship and friendship has been something that I will always cherish in my heart, and I know that many many years from now I will still be in contact with him."

In his role, Koepp also offers professional development training and support to colleagues and serves as liaison to local tribes. The Native Student Program is a supplemental program designed to assist American Indian and Alaska Native students with culturally unique acadmeic needs to meet the state's academic achievement standards.

"Teach the child in front of you," Koepp tells new educators. "This involves adapting pedagogy, materials, relationships, supports, everything, to each child and each class. Each new student is a new relationship and culture to learn from, and use that knowledge to inform instruction, content and inspire critical evaluation of curricula.

"Learning from and adapting to students makes us better teachers," he says.

Nancy Baldwin, 2021 state Classified School Employee of the Year

Nancy BaldwinNancy Baldwin has worked with students experiencing homelessness for more than 20 years, 18 of which have been spent with Kelso School District.

In her role as McKinney-Vento Liaison, Nancy works with students experiencing homelessness to move forward in their education, knowing that they are important, worthy, and valued. Mrs. Baldwin helps students to monitor their grades, missing assignments, absences, and immediate needs.

"For students and families experiencing homelessness, Nancy may serve as their liaison, but she also serves as their counselor, confidant, graduation specialist, and community service provider … as well as their inspiration," says Don Iverson, Kelson School District's director of Student Services. "Nancy exemplifies our district’s commitment in doing whatever it takes to graduate 100% of our students. Nancy delivers services and supports to our students and families with professionalism and compassion. We are so proud of her!"

Baldwin goes above and beyond for her students. Bryanna, a student of Baldwin's, wrote about a time when she learned she'd aged out of her living situation, and didn't have a place to go.

"Mrs. Baldwin took me back to her office and told me we weren't leaving for the day until she had a place for me to stay," Bryanna wrote in her recommendation letter. "When I say Mrs. Baldwin saved my life, I really mean it. For the rest of my life, I know I have her. I am so grateful to have met her. I know without her I would not be graduating; I would be homeless and even worse."

Both Koepp and Baldwin will move forward to the national competition for their awards. Koepp will compete for the National Teacher of the Year award,  which will be announced in Spring 2022. Baldwin will compete for the Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) award, administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

2022 Regional Teachers of the Year

Becky Adderson, special education teacher, Lincoln Middle School, Pullman School District, ESD 101

Boo Balkan Foster, Seqacib teacher, Chief Sealth International High School & Denny International Middle School, Seattle Public Schools, Puget Sound ESD 121

Brenda Hitchins, baking and culinary teacher, Washougal High School, Washougal School District, ESD 112

Linda Johnson, ECEAP teacher, The Early Learning Center, Richland School District, ESD 123

Randi Krieg, agriscience Teacher, Goldendale Middle School, Goldendale School District, ESD 105

Mary Krzysiak, first, second and third grade multiage teacher, Dry Creek Elementary, Port Angeles School District, Olympic ESD 114

Sarah Manus, pre-AP English teacher, Everett High School, Everett School District, NWESD 189

Tina Nicpan-Brown, STEM virtual educator, Wenatchee Internet Academy, Wenatchee School District, North Central ESD 171

2021 Regional Classified School Employees of the Year

Janis Campbell-Aikens, executive director, Child Nutrition Services, Auburn School District, Puget Sound ESD 121

Keven Gebeke, lead custodian, Shiloh Hills Elementary, Mead School District, ESD 101

Andres Gonzalez, technology director, Yakima School District, ESD 105

Holly Hernandez, kitchen manager, Chief Joseph Middle School, Richland School District, ESD 123

Tammy Oommen, school intervention paraeducator, Laventure Middle School, Mount Vernon School District, NWESD 189

Nadine Owen, Restorative Room supervisor, Thurgood Marshall Middle School, Olympia School District, Capitol Region ESD 113

Sheri Schmidt, special education paraeducator, Poulsbo Elementary, North Kitsap School District, Olympic ESD 114

Adriana Vanbianchi, school district nurse, Methow Valley School District, North Central ESD 171

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