Skip To Main Content


Meet the Recipients of the First Ever Heart of KSD Award

This year, Kennewick School District created a new staff excellence award to honor and recognize truly extraordinary efforts made by KSD staff that embody the fundamental essence of what our school district stands for.

The Heart of Kennewick School District Award was born of exceptional circumstances and a desire to recognize a group of five educators and support staff who went beyond the call this past winter to save the life of a student who experienced an emergent medical event during P.E. class.

A seventh-grader at Desert Hills Middle School collapsed into a seizure and events quickly took a turn for the worst: his heart stopped.

Fortunately, he had a one-on-one paraeducator, Courtney Bissinger, by his side who has helped him navigate his episodes for years. She recognized right away that something was different and called out for help.

Shaun Suss, P.E. teacher at Desert Hills, sprinted to his office to call an ambulance.

Ben Schuldheisz, a counselor and coach whose office is nearby, was chatting with Kurtis Clawson, a teacher and former Marine medic when they overheard Suss. They wasted no time getting to the gym.

Ken Lattin, a retired Kennewick police officer working in security also rushed to the scene. After confirming the student had no pulse, Schuldheisz went for the nearby automatic external defibrillator, successfully delivered a shock to the student and began chest compressions as instructed by the device.

The student began breathing again, his color returned and EMTs transported him to the hospital for follow-up. All of this transpired within just 12 minutes.

12 minutes and the heroic efforts of five individuals saved a child’s life.

“To see the way they all reacted, it’s pretty special,” said Desert Hills Principal Casey Gant.

“These are our kids. We see the good in them. We see the potential, the future. When one of them is hurting, it’s hard. It affects you personally because these are our kids,” Schuldheisz said.

Their efforts revealed the heart of these individuals and the passion for not only what they do, but the lengths they will go to for the students—the children—in their care. Their actions represent what we believe is at the heart of our Kennewick School District.

Please join us in congratulating Courtney Bissinger, Kurtis Clawson, Ken Lattin, Ben Schuldheisz and Shaun Suss on being awarded the first Heart of Kennewick School District Award.

You can read more about the incident here.