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September 1, 2016

2016 Staff Excellence Award Winners Named

All Kennewick School District staff work hard to serve their schools and communities. Recently, the district recognized nine employees and one community volunteer with 2016 Staff Excellence Awards for going above and beyond in supporting students and education .

All winners are nominated by district employees and were honored during the Welcome Back event for staff on Aug. 29 at Kennewick High School. Congratulations and thank you to all of them for the outstanding job they do every day.

Outstanding Partner of the Year

Naw Su Su Tun Moses, Community Volunteer


Naw Su Su Tun Moses, commonly called SuSu by those she helps, came to the Tri-Cities as a refugee five years ago. She's since become a critical advocate for the Burmese and Karen-speaking community, helping ensure children from those families are enrolled in schools and other programs and helping parents and teachers communicate. 

"Many of the families in the Burmese and Karen communities have very limited education. They want their children to succeed in school but feel unable to help them. SuSu's contribution has made it easier for the Kennewick School District to serve this grateful community," her advocates said.

Administrator of the Year

Principal Diana Burns, Horse Heaven Hills Middle School


Diana Burns has been an educator since 1981, arriving at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School in 2006 as an assistant principal. She became principal of the school in 2012. Numerous members of her staff commended her for her push to raise academic performance while still nurturing students and staff alike.

"She keeps us data-driven without losing sight of the humanity that is the most important part of what we do every day," said counselor Patti Ostby.

Creativity In Curriculum

Judy Vo, Dean of Students and Instructional Coach, Edison Elementary School


Judy Vo has worked in Kennewick schools for 20 years, first as a resource room teacher and then as an elementary school teacher. She's been dean of students and instructional coach at Edison Elementary since 2014 where she has worked hard to make sure staff are prepared to instruct and inspire students in the classroom.

"Her can do attitude and emphasis on everyone doing their part as we work as a team are legendary," said Edison Principal Bruce Cannard.

Staff Support Person of the Year

Three individuals were awarded Staff Support Person of the Year award

Eric Veach, Network Administrator, KSD Administration Center


Eric Veach has worked in the district's Information Technology department for 13 years, starting as an intern while still a student at Kennewick High School. Now a network administrator, his co-workers laud him for often being called upon to address issues outside his responsibility yet eagerly assisting in any way he can.

"He has an all around great attitude and is a true leader in the department," said several co-workers.

Jan Lenkersdorfer, Bus Driver


Jan Lenkersdorfer has driven a Kennewick school bus for 24 years. Countless students, parents and fellow drivers have come to appreciate the care and concern she shows to every person she meets and she's known for always having a sunny attitude when on her route.

"The sun is always shining when Jan is nearby," said Ethan Schwebke, the district's transportation director.

Kristi Lakey, Secretary, Highlands Middle School


Kristi Lakey has worn several different hats since first joining the district in 1994. She's spent the past 11 years at Highlands Middle School, where she's the principal's secretary. She has become known for her intuition, diligence and cool head when it comes to managing the school's office as well the patience and respect she pays to all she works with.

"Krisi is so good at her job that she makes it look effortless," said Shirley Percifield, a Highlands sixth-grade teacher.

Certificated Specialist of the Year

Stephanie Weyh, ESL Teacher, Eastgate Elementary School


Stephanie Weyh started at Eastgate Elementary in 2001 as a bilingual and ESL teacher and has remained there ever since. Other teachers at her school say she works tirelessly to ensure the students she helps make progress in their education and supports teachers in any way she can.

"Although she is not a traditional classroom teacher she is directly involved in the education of many of our most needy children," said co-workers Karen Byrnes and Michele Larrabee.

Elementary Teacher of the Year

Joan Marble, Third Grade Teacher, Ridge View Elementary School


Joan Marble became a fourth-grade teacher at Washington Elementary in 2006. She moved to Ridge View Elementary in 2011 where she currently serves as a third-grade teacher. Her fellow teachers describe her as someone students will always remember as their favorite and that fellow teachers know as a creative and generous educator.

"She smiles, she jokes, she loves and she is a role model to all," said fellow teachers Jaianne Pischel and Stephanie Griffith.

Middle School Teacher of the Year

Matt Patterson, Language Arts & Reading Teacher, Desert Hills Middle School


Matt Patterson joined Desert Hills Middle School in 1997, teaching language arts, reading and Spanish. He's remained at the school ever since and developed a reputation of striving to reach every student that enters his classroom while also working to help his school and fellow teachers become the best they can be.

"The school would not be as great without his insight, hard work and dedication in making each day better for kids," said teachers Nikki Chelin and Kim Coleman.

High School Teacher of the Year

Teresa Urrego, Spanish Teacher, Kennewick High School


Teresa Urrego has taught Spanish at Kennewick High School since 1998. Now a departmental chair, she's known for supporting other teachers and sharing her expertise and resources to make everyone's classroom instruction better. She's pushed to expand Spanish language course offerings at the district's high schools and implemented Seal of Biliteracy testing, creating new academic opportunities for students.

"Her loving, caring personality creates a warm environment for many students, who look to her not only as a teacher but also a mentor and someone they can trust," her fellow teachers said.