2017 Gold Star Award Nominees

Each year, the Highline Schools Foundation solicits nominations from community members, district employees and parents for its prestigious and much-anticipated Gold Star Awards. These awards provide our community the opportunity to honor those in our schools and district who have shown outstanding support of students and education and who give all of us inspiration and direction. Highline Schools Foundation congratulates them all, and looks forward to celebrating them at the Gold Star Awards BASH! on March 16 (info below).

Introducing the Gold Star Award Nominees for 2017 …

Gold Star Rookie Teacher of the Year Nominees

  • Heather Cardenas, North Hill Elementary, Teacher – Third Grade
  • Colleen Carpenter, Chinook Middle School, Teacher – 7th grade Language Arts and Leadership
  • Chandrika Francis, Chinook Middle School, Teacher – Natural Resources
  • Taylor Gasser, Bow Lake Elementary, Teacher – ILC
  • Micah Gronvold, Technology, Engineering & Communications High School, Teacher – IAC
  • Benjamin Maund, Hazel Valley Elementary, Teacher – PE
  • David Thomas, Arts & Academics Academy, Teacher – Drama and Social Studies

Outstanding Administrator Nominees

  • Gaye Bungart, Director of Special Education
  • Mark Finstrom, Chief Technology Officer
  • Nicole Fitch, Tyee Campus, Principal
  • Megan Funes, McMicken Heights Elementary, Assistant Principal
  • Terry Holtgraves, Marvista Elementary, Assistant Principal
  • Nancy Melius, North Hill Elementary, Principal
  • Gil Parsons, Chinook Middle School, Assistant Principal
  • Victoria Terry, Big Picture Schools, Assistant Principal

Outstanding Professional or Classified Support Staff Nominees

  • Kathy Allen, Madrona Elementary, Family Support
  • Karen Berg, Beverly Park Elementary, Paraprofessional
  • Christy Birch, Bow Lake Elementary, Paraeducator & Office Assistant
  • Linda Elmore, Bow Lake Elementary, Paraeducator
  • Marco Fuentes, McMicken Heights Elementary, Head Custodian
  • Theda Hiranaka, Raisbeck Aviation High School, Attendance/Office Support
  • Lynda Johanson, Chinook Middle School, Community Engagement Specialist and Activities Coordinator
  • Kendall Lewis, Highline High School, Coach and Paraeducator
  • Juan Lozano, CTE Department, CTE Specialist – Certificated
  • Trish McGuire, Evergreen High School, Office Manager
  • Sydni Neves, Chinook Middle School, Instructional Coach
  • Maureen Roe, Parkside Elementary, Paraeducator PBS
  • Jim Tanner, Facilities Department, Glazier Lead
  • Pat Thomasson, Mount Rainier High School, Bookkeeper
  • Jenn Truong, Academy of Citizenship & Empowerment High School, Counselor
  • Maile Valu, Academy of Citizenship & Empowerment High School, Counselor
  • Amy Vattuone, Chinook Middle School, Instructional Coach

Outstanding Teacher Nominees
The Gold Star Outstanding Teacher will also represent the District as its Teacher of the Year in the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction sponsored regional contest.

  • Jennifer Bathelt, Chinook Middle School, Teacher – Math
  • Vickie Burns, Bow Lake Elementary, Teacher – DHH
  • Colleen Carpenter, Chinook Middle School, Teacher – Language Arts and Leadership, 7th Grade
  • Mary Drew, Cedarhurst Elementary, Teacher – Kindergarten
  • Paula Escher, Des Moines Elementary, Teacher
  • Theresa Fornalski, Seahurst Elementary, Teacher – Music
  • Sarah Gaffin, Marvista Elementary, Teacher – Kindergarten
  • Martha Gibson, Hilltop Elementary School, Teacher – Fifth Grade
  • Anna Hawryluk, Academy of Citizenship & Empowerment High School, Teacher – Social Studies
  • Jud Ketvirtis, Sylvester Middle School, Teacher – Language Arts/Social Studies
  • Grace Kleps, Chinook Middle School, Teacher – PE
  • Anna Kramer, Cascade Middle School, Teacher – Science, 8th Grade
  • Delila Leber, Mount View Elementary, Teacher – Dual Language, Kindergarten
  • Mark Lewis, Hazel Valley Elementary, Teacher – PE
  • Alecia Mabalay, Parkside Elementary, Teacher – Kindergarten
  • Melissa McGraw, Madrona Elementary, LRC Teacher Intermediate
  • Caitlyn McGuire, Hilltop Elementary, Instructional Specialist
  • Kim Meschter, Chinook Middle School, Teacher Librarian
  • Shawna Moore, Chinook Middle School, Teacher – Health
  • Joanne Nair, Marvista Elementary, Teacher – First Grade
  • Elizabeth Nelson, Chinook Middle School, CTE Design and Engineering Teacher
  • Kim Nguyen, Marvista Elementary, Teacher – Second Grade
  • Sara Savala, Beverly Park Elementary, Music Specialist
  • Yvonne Waldbillig-Lutz, Bow Lake Elementary, Teacher – DHH
  • Carolyn West, Beverly Park, Elementary Teacher

Outstanding Volunteer Nominees

  • Abdul Ahmed, Chinook Middle School
  • Gerry Clift, Chinook Middle School
  • Sherri Gorney, Gregory Heights Elementary
  • Ardis Hughes, Des Moines Elementary
  • Jen Pilgrim, Beverly Park Elementary
  • Chuck Tuman, Community Volunteer
  • Joe Van, Community Volunteer

Gold Star Awards BASH!

20167 Gold Star Awards - Celebreate Highline!And the winners are …

The Gold Star Award WINNERS will be announced live Thursday, March 16th at the annual Gold Star Awards BASH! and YOU are invited to Celebrate! Highline and enjoy an evening of music, drinks, appetizers and a LIVE announcement of the 2017 Gold Star Award winners. Drinks and light appetizers included for only $20! (21 and over)

Whether you are supporting a specific nominee or just want to be in on the fun and be the first to hear who wins, this is the night to celebrate all the outstanding Teachers, Volunteers, Alumni, Staff and Administrators of Highline Public Schools! Drinks and light appetizers included for only $20!

Event Details:  Gold Star Awards BASH!
Date:  Thursday, March 16, 2017
Time:  6:30 – 8:00 pm
Location:  The Beach Park Event Center, 22030 Cliff Ave South, Des Moines

Buy Your Tickets Here

Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

4 comments on “2017 Gold Star Award Nominees
  1. Anita Turner says:

    It’s so disheartening to never see high school teachers on these list including teacher of the year. The school district needs to make some sort of change to accommodate and encourage our high school teachers. Parents of high school students just don’t nominate teachers whereas in elementary school parents are so much more involved. It behooves the district to put in place some sort of survey of the students and/or their parents to make up for this lack of involvement which leads to nominations. Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Highline Schools Foundation says:


      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. We solicit nominations from district staff, parents, students, and anyone in the community who wishes to nominate people for the awards. This year, in the teacher category, 86% of the nominations came from other district staff while the remaining 14% came from parents and community members. We will continue to look for ways to encourage nominations to come in from all levels within our schools. Thank you again for commenting.

      Anne Baunach, Executive Director
      Highline Schools Foundation

  2. Christina says:

    When will the winners be posted somewhere for those of us who could not attend?