Kent School District honors Employees of the Year

The Kent School District has selected 11 Employees of the Year, representing various unions and employee groups.

Employee of the Year winners exemplify the Kent School District mission of successfully preparing all students for their futures and provide unique and valuable contributions to the KSD community, according to a media release from the district.

Employees are nominated by their co-workers and occasionally students before being voted on by members of their unions or group.

Employees of the Year will be honored at the School Board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, at the Administration Building, 12033 SE 256th St.

Employees of the Year are:

Kent School Food Service Association (KSFSA): Vicki Lawrence, nutrition services cook

Lawrence is the nutrition services employee at Horizon Elementary School. She provides the sole source of nutrition for many students during the school day and maintains proper handling of all food served. Lawrence, with her team player mindset, always steps up and offers to support any way she can.

Central Office Administration Support (Non-Rep): Michelle Martin, safety officer

As a safety officer at Mattson Middle School, Martin works with consistently through mediations and helping build rapport. She is one person students feel safe talking to when something happens, and she is constantly looking for ways to support the students in times of need.

Kent Association of Paraeducators WEA/NEA (KAP): Patricia Vanden Heuvel, paraeducator

Vanden Heuvel is a paraeducator at Martin Sortun Elementary School. She helps advise student grouping to ensure an effective learning environment. She frequently goes out of her way to recognize students who have demonstrated additional effort, growth or achievement.

Central Office Administrators (Non-Rep): Tom Ogg, director of nutrition services

Ogg is always understanding and kind. He mentors a high school student and gives his time outside of work to promote healthy meals for students at community events. Ogg implemented after school dinners in the C-21 programs at three elementary schools and one middle school funded by the USDA to provide an additional meal for students.

American Federation of Teachers Union of Washington (AFT): Daran Blackwell, maintenance

Blackwell looks for ways to conduct repairs without negatively affecting students and staff. His work helps keep building systems running properly, which helps sustain infrastructure and supports a healthy, safe working and learning environment for staff and students.

Teamsters Association: Michelle Collier, bus driver

Collier volunteers to help dispatch with emergency needs no matter what time of the day, including outside her regular work hours. As a special needs driver, Collier’s ability to be exceptionally reliable and responsible is greatly valued.

Association of Coaches & Extracurricular Employees/WEA: Blake Solomon, basketball coach/teacher

As a state championship winning basketball coach at Kentwood High School, Solomon inspires students through fun and team-centered work, never allowing those around him to give up on themselves or others.

Kent Education Association – Non-Classroom Certified Staff (KEA): Amelia Nabarrete, nurse,

Nabarrete is the school nurse at Martin Sortun and Meadow Ridge elementary schools where she immediately addresses health concerns in an amicable and effective manner. She is a knowledgeable, compassionate nurse who cares for students with gentleness, as well as demonstrates and teaches this compassion to everyone.

Kent Principals Association (KPA): Carla Janes, principal

Janes is the principal at Millennium Elementary School and is an amazing communicator who is able to effectively connect with people of differing ages and cultures. She really hears what every member of her school community shares and she always responds with the utmost respect.

Teacher of the Year, Kent Education Association (KEA): Denisha Saucedo, sixth-grade teacher

Saucedo is a sixth-grade teacher at Kent Elementary School. She exemplifies what it is to be helpful, kind, responsible and caring. Saucedo attributes her dedication to teaching from her own experiences as a student – both good and bad –in the Kent School District.

Kent Association of Educational Office Professionals (KAEOP): Linda Novak, office manager at Cedar Valley Elementary School

Novak’s work allows staff members to be effective and efficient. She models selflessness. When office staff needs to finish a project, she will take on other jobs knowing that in doing so, she elevates the entire team.