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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 November 2010 recognition. Three were honored at the November 23 school board meeting. Jay Michaud was unable to attend the November 23 board meeting so he will be honored at the December 14 board meeting. Pictured left to right are:
• Kris Janati, Principal, Sacajawea Elementary School
• Karen Wilson, English Language Learner Coordinator, Fort Vancouver High School
• Christine Hill, Counselor, Truman Elementary 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.

Please nominate! Forms are available by clicking on the link on the right side of this page.

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

Kris Janati
Principal, Sacajawea Elementary School
Hired September 1997
Sacajawea principal Kris Janati is all about kids. She greets them every morning by name. She runs school assemblies and rewards students for their good work and their good citizenship. She invites volunteers and partners into the school to help students in a variety of ways. Yet there is one example that describes the lengths Kris goes to help her students. One parent wrote that her son had been having problems academically and socially for several years. Yet, once her son was enrolled at Sacajawea, Kris stepped in to help him. As the parent describes it, Kris went beyond even the “normal, extra help.” New to the state of Washington, without transportation, and dealing with health problems, the parent knew she needed to seek help for her son, but didn’t know where to start. When she was unable to get to the school to meet with the staff, Kris volunteered to bring her to the school. During the meeting Kris helped the mother schedule some medical appointments and told her how she could get rides to those appointments at no cost. Following their meeting, Kris drove her home. As a result of this initial step and other help along the way initiated by Kris, the student has received the medical help he needed and now is doing well in school. The parent wonders if things would have been better for her if there had been someone like Kris when she was in school. Kris is an advocate for students. She’s an inspiration.

Karen Wilson
English Language Learner Coordinator, Fort Vancouver High School
Hired August 2005
From beginning to end, Karen Wilson is committed to helping the English Language Learner (ELL) students at Fort Vancouver High School. There are about 250 ELL students at Fort, and they remain in the ELL program from one to five years. Beginning with enrollment at Fort, these kids and their parents can count on Karen to help them adjust to a new school. She is the students’ best advocate to see them through high school and on to graduation. Karen’s role begins in the Intake Center at Fort. She works with the students to assess their needs, making sure they are placed in the right classes. Karen focuses on strategies to make sure the students are successful as they continue with their high school classes. She works with teachers and acts as a coach to help them find the best ways to teach their non-English speaking students, many who are new to the country. Karen works with the interpreters to make sure student needs are being met. Karen also runs professional learning communities, bringing teachers together to collaborate on student progress. In addition to her work in the ELL program, Karen participates in school events and activities. She is the co-chair of the site-based leadership team, and tracks school-wide testing. She also runs the International Club, helps organize Fort’s Martin Luther King assembly, and is involved in school cultural activities. No matter what she is doing and what task she is involved in, Karen is always willing to help. For her, the kids are number one.

Christine Hill
Counselor, Truman Elementary School
Hired September 1998
Christine Hill, described as one of the best school counselors, is doing her best to make sure Truman is one of the best elementary schools in the district. She is proactive in engaging everyone, children and adults alike, in creating a positive and nurturing community. Christine goes to every classroom for lessons, working with small groups of students who need special assistance. She manages the Truman student council, supporting and encouraging students in leadership roles. Christine works with the school psychologist on difficult situations, and she’s ready to help any of the staff members when they need her. She engages students in role-play, so they can act out situations to practice conflict resolution and social skills. As manager of the Positive Behavior Team, Christine leads the Truman faculty in an effort to make sure students receive positive comments during the day. The program requires thoughtful interaction with students. Another program that brings out the best in students and staff members is the HUG (Hello, update, goodbye) program. Christine has matched every Truman staff member with a HUG buddy. Each day the staff member checks in with his or her student to say hello and discuss and plan goals for the day. At the end of the day, the student checks back in with his or her HUG buddy to review progress and say good-bye. Christine’s work as a counselor emphasizes one-on-one interaction and positive reinforcement for students. Her work puts a positive spin on everyone and everything at Truman.

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