School picks its Educators of the YearBy KRIS HILL
Darren Motamedy, alto sax in hand, looked around at the other Jenkins Creek Elementary School staff members in the back of the multi-purpose room with an expression of surprise.
“What’s this all about?” he asked above the roar of the enthusiastic applause of students and staff last Friday.
Michele LaBare, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Association, had just announced Motamedy as one of two Educators of the Year at Jenkins Creek.
When Motamedy reached the front of the room and was seated among the other award recipients, LaBare assured him he hadn’t brought his instruments in vain.
“You’ll still be performing,” she said.
Motamedy teaches band at Jenkins Creek, one of his many assignments in the Kent School District, and LaBare said the consensus is that “Darren is the best music teacher in Washington.”
LaBare had told Motamedy he needed to be at the assembly she had organized to honor PTA volunteers and teachers so he could “be the entertainment.” It was the only way she could think of getting him there without tipping him off to the surprise of the award.
LaBare explained that each year the state PTA encourages individual schools to award Educator of the Year to a teacher. At Jenkins Creek, “we send out nomination forms and ask families to cast their votes as to why they feel this person deserves this award,” LaBare said.
Motamedy and first-grade teacher Cathy Laridon received the most votes, LaBare said.
“A donation is given in honor of each recipient, and they will receive a special pin and award certificate from the state,” LaBare said before the ceremony. “They also will have their names engraved on our plaque that we display in our office, as well as a special separate plaque for them to display in their classroom.”
LaBare said that “everyone adores” Laridon, who is involved with the school’s math relays and has been known for going the extra mile on Read Across America Day, when she painted herself green, dressed up as Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat and served green eggs and ham.
Students and parents also think highly of Motamedy, who in their nominations described him as “dedicated to helping his students” by offering them extra time to practice before and after school, as well as during lunch time.
Motamedy’s wife was at the assembly but, she was kept hidden from view along with the families of the other recipients until the last minute.
“When I saw my wife here, I thought this was an intervention,” Motamedy joked.
He was totally surprised, but said it was satisfying to know he’s appreciated.
“Every day you try to do your job as good as you can,” he said.
Staff writer Kris Hill can be reached at (425) 432-1209 (extension 5054) and email@example.com
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