2020 Gold Star Awards

The Gold Star Awards are prestigious honors in our school community, recognizing Highline Public Schools best and brightest Teachers, Volunteers, Alumni, Staff and Administrators. 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. We rely on the entire community to bring forward the names of those to be considered for these awards through the Gold Star Award Nomination process. Each nominee will receive a certificate of nomination and recognition at the Gold Star BASH on March 10, 2020. Each winner will receive a $500 cash prize and recognition at the Gold Star Fundraising Breakfast.

“We normally announce our winners at the Gold Star BASH which was scheduled to held [on Tuesday, March 10]. However with recommendations from the Public Health Department, we cancelled the BASH and announced the winners during a Facebook Live event” shared Anne Baunach, Executive Director, Highline Schools Foundation. “While we couldn’t celebrate in person, we are so excited to recognize these individuals.”

The 2020 Gold Star Awards Winners are…

Outstanding Administrator
Kym Nelson, Principal at Valley View Early Learning Center
Her nominator says “Kym has transformed Valley View into a high-quality preschool that parents want to send their children to and feel invested in, a positive and rewarding work environment for staff, and a model site in our region for this work. Kym is a tireless advocate for preschool at the district level. She has worked with central office staff and other principals to make Highline a P-12 system. When Kym arrived, Valley View was a site that housed preschool. Through her work, Valley View is now a school, with a principal, which is aligned with the rest of the school district with an Annual action plan that focuses on kindergarten readiness.”

Outstanding Rookie Teacher
Alejandra Rodas-Vasco, Dual-Language Teacher at Hilltop Elementary
Alejandra’s nominators shared, “Alejandra creates differentiated plans in her classroom that are seamless and hardly noticeable yet created the optimal experience for students. Alejandra is deeply involved in our work to improve our school’s multi-tiered system of support to guarantee that each student at our school grows one year each year. Alejandra recognizes that to continue to grow you must support yourself. As a result, she is eager to receive feedback, and to drive her own learning and development.”

Outstanding Staff (Classified)
Jeremy Praven, Security Officer at Pacific Middle School
Jeremy’s nominator shared,”He is the heart and soul of Pacific. While finding a superstar isn’t easy, somehow Pacific has Jeremy. Officer Praven provides enthusiastic support for our entire team. He is an intelligent sounding board for all our thinking. Officer Praven is tasked with breaking up fights, viewing videos and security monitors, watching for strangers or suspicious activity, all while creating an environment where everyone is welcome and safe.”

Outstanding Staff (Profesional)
Dottie Handley-More, Occupational Therapist in Highline Public Schools
Dottie’s nominators shared, “She is the consummate professional. Dottie recently received a long-deserved designation as Fellow to our national organization, the American Occupational Therapy Organization. Dottie could “rest on her laurels” knowing how much she has contributed year after year, making an enormous difference statewide and nationally, as well as in our district. Instead she is as ever, humble, gracious and incredibly generous with her time, knowledge and support, to students, school teams, the Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy department, the special education department, and district wide through her advocacy role for technology supports for those with special needs.”

Outstanding Volunteer
Jennifer Manchester, Volunteer at Marvista Elementary
Jennifer’s nominator describes her as “one of the most loyal dedicated volunteers I have ever had the privilege of working with. Jen is constantly thinking about access and equity. Before I even have a chance to push the PTSA’s thinking on equity issues, Jen has already considered who may be marginalized by an event and is working to mitigate any access issues. She is passionate about ensuring all students and families know and believe that they are welcome at Marvista and critical, valuable members of the community.”

Outstanding Alumnus
Dan House, Graduate of Highline Public Schools
While Dan does a great deal for the whole community, he has especially been generous to Highline Public Schools and Highline Schools Foundation. Let me share a few of the things that he does – very quietly – and without very little recognition.

  • Dan has been a significant sponsor of Highline Schools Foundation events – allowing the Foundation to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at these events. This includes being the title sponsor of Burien Brat Trot as well as the provider of all the food at Oktoberfest each year.
  • Dan started the TinShip scholarship in 2016. He has now provided funds so that five students could attend a trade school for careers in mechanics, building, machinery or craftsmanship.
  • In 2018, Dan was the recipient of a Key Bank Small Business is Key contest. His $20,000 award was donated to the Foundation to begin a fund to provide Sylvester with a new athletic field. He is now working with the district and the foundation on a plan to raise the rest of the funds necessary for this to happen.

Outstanding Teacher
Joseph Boyer, Teacher at Evergreen High School
Joe’s nominator shares, “Joe Boyer has been an outstanding teacher since he first started at Evergreen. Not only is his instructional ability, understanding and his influence on student learning far superior, he also commits tirelessly to the support and betterment of his colleagues through being a part time instructional coach, department chair that works collaborative with district support staff, and National Board facilitator on the Evergreen campus. Joe leverages his relationships with students to not only push for excellence but also helps students find their passion and goals for life so that students have choices for higher education. Joe Boyer truly embodies the Highline Promise.”

Nomination Process

Applications are read and reviewed by Highline Schools Foundation Trustees. Please make sure you include plenty of information in your nomination as most of the trustees will not have first-hand knowledge of the nominees and will rely on the information provided to make a decision. A copy of the scoring rubric used by the committee can be found HERE. Here are some award winning nominations submitted in past years:

  • David Estes (Puget Sound Skills Center), 2019 Outstanding Administrator Gold Star Nomination
  • Nicole Jones (McMicken Heights Elementary), 2019 Outstanding Teacher Gold Star Nomination
  • Kelly Morris (Hilltop Elementary), 2019 Outstanding Rookie Teacher Nomination

Deadline: The next deadline will be in February 2021

Nomination Categories:

  • Outstanding Teacher – recognizes an individual who demonstrates exemplary work performance, outstanding teaching abilities, and a positive impact on our diverse student population
  • Outstanding Rookie Teacher – recognizes and individual who demonstrates exemplary work experience with total teaching experience of three years or less
  • Outstanding Staff (Professional) – recognizes an individual who has established an extraordinary record of work performance, outstanding service to Highline Public Schools and special achievements or contributions to the district
  • Outstanding Staff (Classified) – recognizes an individual who has established an extraordinary record of work performance, outstanding service to Highline Public Schools and special achievements or contributions to the district
  • Outstanding Volunteer – recognizes the outstanding work being done by parents, grandparents, friends and community members in support of Highline Public Schools
  • Outstanding Administrator – recognizes an individual who demonstrates exemplary work performance, outstanding leadership abilities, cooperative spirit, and a positive impact on our diverse student population
  • Outstanding Alumnus – recognizes an individual who graduated from one of our high schools in Highline Public Schools and has gone on to serve the community in extraordinary ways

A list of all past Gold Star Award winners can be found on HERE and photos from last years Gold Star Awards BASH! can be found on our Facebook page.