Education Awards

Classified Employee Award Winners


2018 State and Regional Classified School Employees of the Year


Carla Yenko

2018 Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year
Olympic ESD 114 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Carla Yenko, Paraeducator
Central Kitsap School District
Olympic High School

Carla is a mechanical engineer by training who got hooked on education when she started volunteering in her daughter’s kindergarten classroom. As a former special Olympics coach with a passion for math, Carla has found that the role of paraeducator creates the perfect niche for her skills as motivator of students with many different needs.

As a math coach, Carla’s skills at instructive questioning are unrivaled. She runs the lunchtime and afterschool tutoring sessions that are on track to serve over 2000 students this year. Carla’s success has led the district to ask her to train all paraeducators in preparation for their highly qualified exams. She has facilitated six trainings, and already 35 educators have completed the exam. Carla is also a valued Key Club advisor to a group of over 100 members who are on track to complete more that 2400 hours of community service this year.

“We can go to her not only for math and Key Club, but for anything that is on our mind or even personal matters,” say students Jazmine and Alanna. “She’s very welcoming and generous to everyone she encounters and she especially inspires people with her optimistic personality. As a teacher and a person, Mrs. Yenko is dependable and sincere, and her positive attitude towards students and staff is something she wholeheartedly shares. She encourages not only every student, but staff as well to strive for their best.”


2018 Regional Classified School Employees of the Year


Andrea LaJiness

Northeast ESD 101 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Andrea LaJiness, In-School Intervention Paraeducator
Riverside School District

In the twelve years Andrea has been working in Riverside she has served every level of students. She currently uses restorative and reflective practices with students in in-school intervention status. It’s a position she was well-prepared for as she had previously served as the in-school suspension paraeducator.

Andrea’s job requires her to wear many different hats to meet the individual needs of students in crisis This is why she firmly believes relationship building is key to her success. Her room is a frequent stop for students who just need a little extra support – from pencils to snacks to encouragement. Andrea has also worked with other staff to develop a unique group setting to build positive behaviors and confidence for intervention students. The group, called GREAT (which stands for Grow, Respect, Excite, Accept, Together), has been an unqualified success despite staffing changes.

“Often [Andrea’s] students are not only the most challenging behaviorally, they are also behind academically,” says colleague Theresa Ray. “In her position she serves as a mentor, leader, counselor, teacher, coach, and friend to each student she works with. She has taken a role that for most is hard and welcomes the challenge. She sees our kids who struggle the most, at their worst, and inspires each one to work towards their best. To her, they are family. We are so lucky to have her.”


Reed Hornung

ESD 105 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Reed Hornung, Athletic Director
Sunnyside School District
Sunnyside High School

It was Reed’s freshman year of high school that set him on the path to his career in education. As a new student at his high school, he struggled academically and socially. But a caring football coach saw Reed’s potential and nurtured it. He went on to become a successful college student and athlete.

This experience showed Reed how a positive school culture can make a big impact on student success. When Reed was hired as the athletic director at Sunnyside he began to build that culture right away by establishing the core values of the programs. They were so successfully implemented that Principal Ryan Maxwell asked Reed to lead an effort to create schoolwide core values: perseverance, ownership, we before me, excellence, and respect. Reed is also empowering students through a student athlete leadership committee and increasing professional growth among his coaches through quarterly check ins. Most importantly the measures of success for the athletic programs align with those core values resulting in athletes who excel both on and off the field.

“In my 25 years in Sunnyside, I have not seen the culture of the athletic department more positive than is has been since [Reed’s] arrival almost two years ago,” says parent Mark Diddens. “Students are held to high standards and are dealt with fairly and consistently. They are encouraged to demonstrate appreciation for the fans and the school, participate in community service, and to become solid citizens. Reed is creating a winning culture of sportsmanship and pride throughout our entire school system.”


Julie Ward

ESD 112 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Julie Ward, Title I Paraeducator
Camas School District
Woodburn Elementary

Julie was raised in a small Alaskan commercial fishing town where she learned the value of perseverance and stamina. She brings this perspective to her work as a Title I paraeducator where she focuses on building grit and appreciating that every day is full of opportunities for success.

Julie started a morning math program to give students the choice to do a little extra math practice during first recess. Because students choose for themselves to participate, they are empowered to take control of their own education. The program has been so successful in helping students move out of intervention, the English language learning specialist has started their own Imagine Learning program. Part of what makes Julie so successful is her ability to differentiate instruction. To accomplish this she has immersed herself in the math curriculum and is now overseeing progress monitoring at all grade levels. Now Julie is also supporting the most intensive readers and building her knowledge of formative assessments.

“I am amazed at the difference I have seen in Lucas after working with Mrs. Ward,” says parent Sharon McCartney. “It is apparent in her work and outcomes that she truly cares about her students and takes the time to individually address their learning styles. Our son is blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with Mrs. Ward and Woodburn is extremely lucky to have such a kind and caring teacher.”


Carolyn Poage

Capital Region ESD 113 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Carolyn Poage, Head Custodian
Olympia School District
Olympia High School

Carolyn believes it must have been fate that drew her to apply for a position as a school custodian. After 10 years as the swing shift custodian at Olympia High School, she jumped at the opportunity to switch to head custodian four years ago.

Carolyn loves the hustle and bustle of the school day, and she especially enjoys the opportunities she has to work directly with students. Working with her school’s ASB she has helped to elevate (literally) Olympia’s annual tradition of displaying “where in the world” banners that showcase where seniors are heading after graduation. When Carolyn started, she immediately saw that the banners needed to be hung in a more prominent location where they were more visible and could remain hanging for longer. Carolyn prides herself on creating a culture of “yes” at Olympia by committing to work with students through tricky projects. This often results in projects with a lasting impact like the recent Mandala project at the school entrance.

“Above all else, Carolyn is a person of substance,” says former assistant principal Frank O’Connor. “Her internal compass guides everything she does. She believes in people first. She recognizes the strong connection between a clean and orderly school and its healthy atmosphere. She models involvement and commitment. She has participated in assemblies, attends school activities, and has even delivered lunches to students in detention. She is an outstanding model of ‘walking the talk.’”


Lynette Scheid

Puget Sound ESD 121 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Lynette Scheid, Resource Paraeducator
Puyallup School District
Emerald Ridge High School

Lynn’s journey in education started with a high school elective called Teaching Academy where she quickly discovered being a paraeducator was her passion. Thirty-three years later, she is still invigorated by the school environment and the varied needs of students.

Although Lynn works primarily as a resource paraeducator, she is also committed to sustaining all the extra things that engage and support students. She has served as chaperone, scorekeeper, cheer coach and so much more. Ten years ago, Lynn and a colleague started the after-school tutoring and homework program that is still going strong at Emerald Ridge. They built a relaxed and fun environment and leveraged the existing gifts of their community by having the Special Services Class prepare snacks, aligning with the activity bus, and offering space for general education teachers to pop in to give specialized help without running their own tutoring programs. In her current role providing one-on-one support to a medically fragile student, Lynn is leveraging her three decades of knowledge to fulfill the promise of a great public education to every student – regardless of their needs.

“From the first day she walked into our classroom, Lynn exuded positivity with a smile and light-heartedness,” says colleague Terese Allen. “She exercises the highest level of professionalism in a position that requires excellent communication, collaboration, flexibility and intelligence. Her ability to address a variety of academic areas and needs has made Lynn invaluable to student growth.”


Brent Bieloh

ESD 123 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Brent Bieloh, Head Custodian
Walla Walla School District
Pioneer Middle School

After he got out of the Air Force, Brent took a job as a sweeper in the Walla Walla schools. After a short time he realized that his training in the Air Force was useful in his interactions with students and, most importantly, he liked going to work every day. After over 25 years in education (six as head custodian at Pioneer), Brent still says interacting with students is still the most rewarding part of his job.

Brent takes his role as educator very seriously and considers himself a “teacher with a broom.” When his administration realized his unique ability to connect with struggling students, they asked if he would be willing to have a small group of students assigned to him for about an hour a day. This improvised intervention gives the students time to talk about their lives with someone at their own pace and reflect on ideas for improvement. Brent is also a big believer in leading by example. Because sports and extracurricular activities played an important role in his adolescence, Brent sponsors an afterschool soccer team. When Brent was awarded prize money for a staff award he gave the money back to the school to set up a fund for needy kids.

“Brent has a heart for kids who don’t seem to have a friend group,” says colleague Alicia Quackenbush. “He befriends the students who are sitting by themselves. He will introduce students to each other, get a conversation going by telling them of like interests they have – knowledge he gained by building relationships with kids. It is not uncommon for friendships to develop after introductions from Mr. Bieloh.”


Avid Castro

North Central ESD 171 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Avid Castro, Paraeducator
Manson School District
Manson Elementary

After many years volunteering with her church, Avid began to see a place for herself in a school environment. It took a couple of years for her to work up the courage to apply, but when she did everything fell into place quickly. She is now in her 13th year as a paraeducator at Manson Elementary.

Avid’s gifts as an educator first came to the district’s attention during a Kindergarten orientation camp, so it makes sense that she was selected to work on the team to implement the “Getting Ready for Kindergarten” program where she helped Spanish language materials and co-facilitated the Spanish version of the program. These kinds of collaborative and community-focused projects are where Avid’s dedication shines. She recently helped expand the school’s Cultural Celebration to include an evening component for families and the community that includes a folkloric dance performance she is teaching. Avid’s commitment to celebrating diversity is also a big part of what makes her so successful in working with her school’s newcomers. In this role, Avid provides them the academic foundation and the social emotional supports they need to feel embraced by their new community.

“The work that Avid does at Manson Elementary touches the lives and hearts of nearly all of our bilingual students,” says English Language Development Coordinator Katie Sperling. “Families rely on Avid for facilitating communication with teachers and administration. Teachers rely on Avid to work with their most challenged learners. District administration relies on Avid for her insight into the culture and needs of the families of the Manson community. I can honestly say Avid is the most skilled and effective instructional assistant I have worked with in my 15 years in bilingual education.”


Angela Kolb

Northwest ESD 189 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Angela Kolb, Resource Room Paraeducator
Mount Vernon School District
LaVenture Middle School

Angie began her career in education with a simple desire to provide all children with the opportunities her own children had. Angie’s personal experiences with not fitting in as a child provide her a unique lens into the struggles of the students she serves as a paraeducator in the resource room at LaVenture Middle.

Angie’s students move between the resource room and general education classrooms, so she is frequently on the move as she works to offer the strategic support students need to be fully integrated into gen ed. As a student, Angie struggled with an undiagnosed case of A.D.H.D. and had to overcome a reading disability, so she has a unique ability to empathize with her students. She also knows that all students need an opportunity to feel part of the larger community. To facilitate this, Angie coordinates an outdoor school experience for all her school’s 200 sixth-graders at Camp Orkila. This annual tradition creates a powerful bonding experience for a group that comes from different elementary schools. Angie also works occasionally in the jail with juvenile offenders as a guard and counselor.

“The commitment and passion that Angie has shown as a paraprofessional in the Mount Vernon School District is nothing short of spectacular,” says Principal Dave Riddle. “She is hard working, selfless, and utterly devoted to the students of LaVenture Middle School, and especially to those who don’t quite fit in . . . the consistency, compassion, and dedication with which she serves the students and staff is truly exemplary. She is the real deal.”



   Updated 5/11/2018

Old Capitol Building, PO Box 47200, 600 Washington St. S.E., Olympia, WA    98504-7200    360-725-6000  TTY 360-664-3631
Contact Us    |    Site Info    |    Staff Only    |    Privacy Policy