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Vancouver employees honored with Excellence Award

A district recognition program honors employees for their commitment to the students and staff of Vancouver Public Schools. The Excellence Award is given to individual employees who have created a positive, caring and productive school/work environment through exceptional effort, dedication, or performance in their area of responsibility.


Four employees were selected for the April 2010 recognition. They were honored at the April 27 school board meeting. Pictured left to right are:
• Pat Bates, Paraeducator, JPC Preschool and Vancouver Home Connection
• Jay Gowen, Counselor, Skyview High School
• Chris Olsen, Principal, Discovery Middle School
• Patrick Mongrain, 7th-grade Teacher, Thomas Jefferson Middle School

The Excellence Award is given to two to four employees each month. Nominations are open to staff, students, parents, and community members. Nominees are selected for recognition by a committee of their peers. Forms are available by clicking on the link on the right side of this page.

Learn more about the Excellence Award recipients for April . . .

Pat Bates
Paraeducator, JPC Preschool and Vancouver Home Connection
Hired October 1989
Paraeducator Pat Bates is an amazing assistant to teachers in the JPC Preschool and Vancouver Home Connection. In this busy environment, there are different schedules with different students every day of the week. The children served range in age from three to 18 years old. Needs among the students vary greatly, yet Pat has the ability to calmly address every task at hand. She is a self-starter, thinking ahead and seeing what needs to be done. Pat is one of those people who is willing to help out any way she can. Pat assists in art, math, language arts, and theater classes, working with kids one-on-one, or in large groups. Pat treats all of the students like they are her own kids. She knows every student by name, and they each know her and adore her. Pat always interacts positively with students, whether she is comforting a child who is upset, helping a fourth-grader with math, or teaching a three-year-old to count. If a class celebration is coming up, Pat is always the first to sign up to bring in something special. If a student doesn’t bring a classroom treat to share on his or her birthday, Pat is always ready with one. She treats every parent and student with respect and care. Pat loves her job and it shows in all she does.

Jay Gowen
Counselor, Skyview High School
Hired August 2008
Skyview counselor Jay Gowen is “absolutely passionate and committed to students.” His commitment extends to the whole student: academic, social, and emotional. He takes his job, but not himself, seriously. With a great sense of humor and caring demeanor, Jay is well-liked by both students and staff. He announces at Skyview basketball games, and coaches tennis. Jay meets, and surpasses, the demands required of a counselor. Among students, he is the counselor they recommend to one another if they have a problem. He’s willing to stop what he’s doing to talk to kids when they need a caring adult to listen. Jay also is the first to support teachers in dealing with student issues, both positive and negative. He understands the demands and stresses that teachers and students face. Jay founded a new program called the Skyview Response Team to catch students who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Teachers are encouraged to submit names of students who may be struggling but not receiving the extra attention they need to get through high school. Jay meets regularly with these students, and he makes sure appropriate interventions are followed. Jay loves what he does, and he’s in it for all the right reasons. Every part of Jay’s being is committed to students. He makes a difference in the lives of students at Skyview.

Chris Olsen
Principal, Discovery Middle School
Hired September 1996
Principal Chris Olsen leads a grass roots effort for change at Discovery Middle School. Her attitude is “if we work as a team, we can accomplish anything.” She is respectful of all staff members and includes them in decisions. Chris has shown a quiet and calm perseverance in meeting challenges. Discovery’s recent label as a Tier II school overshadows the good work happening every day among the staff and students. While the issues of poverty are daunting, Chris believes that together the Discovery staff can affect change one step at a time. The Culture and Climate Committee is one example. The group initiated a staff pledge to assume high expectations for student behavior. This expectation has been transformative. The school environment is calmer and fosters learning. As part of the work in becoming an accredited Middle Years Programme, Discovery staff members have developed shared instructional expectations. The students know they have a role in shared expectations, and they understand it is meant to support their learning. Chris’ leadership has laid the foundation for change. Her heart and soul is in Discovery, and she does what is best for the kids. Chris and her team are committed to the students and parents of Discovery. They keep their eyes on the big picture: education will make kids’ lives better.

Patrick Mongrain
Seventh-grade Teacher, Thomas Jefferson Middle School
Hired August 2005
Patrick Mongrain, seventh-grade social studies teacher, truly cares about every student and staff member at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. It is evident by his actions. Whenever a volunteer is needed, Pat is the first to pitch in. Helping out at socials, sporting events, and concerts; passing out door hangers for the levy; and covering classes for teachers who are absent are just a few of the things Pat has done. If you need help you can count on Pat. He is very positive with his students and models good character. One student commented, “Mr. Mongrain is never boring, he’s always friendly, and he gives good tips to help us be good writers.” Pat also coaches football, wrestling, boys and girls track, and boys and girls basketball. He cares deeply for his students and finds ways to connect with them. This year, after collecting donated equipment, Pat started a weight-training program at Jefferson. He works out with students four mornings every week before school. Twenty to 30 students now participate in the program. “He’s really generous with his time to get up at 7 a.m. and do weights with us,” said one student. Pat has the unique ability to work successfully with anyone. His easy-going nature, friendly personality, and sense of humor make Pat a very valuable asset to Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

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