Skip to main content


Bainbridge Island School District is filled with amazing students, staff and volunteers. Recognize and honor the many individuals who make our district strong by nominating them for a BISD STRONG Award.

The BISD STRONG Award honors the district's guiding principles of STRONG MINDS, STRONG HEARTS, STRONG COMMUNITY.

Students, staff members from the seven schools and district office (which includes maintenance, transportation, food services, etc.) and BISD volunteers are eligible to be nominated for a BISD STRONG AWARD. 



  • The nominee must be a BISD staff member, enrolled student or BISD volunteer.
  • Please do not nominate people in your family. 


NOMINEES: All nominees receive a certificate and a letter outlining highlights from the nomination.

AWARD WINNERS: Are surprised in the classroom or the department and receive a commemorative BISD STRONG AWARD, are highlighted on the BISD website and receive possible coverage in the local newspaper.

Questions? Contact Erin Bischoff at or 206-780-1081.

Listen to this Bainbridge Community Broadcast podcast about the BISD STRONG Award.

Read all about the first year of the award: BISD STRONG Award Book 2017-18

  • BISD Strong Award Recipient
  • BISD Strong Award Recipient
  • BISD Strong Award Recipient
  • BISD Strong Award Recipient

Previous Winners

  • Teacher Kathy

    Kathy Hines - x̌alilc Preschool Teacher

    • Kathy is a strong and resilient teacher who is loving and firm. We need more like her.

    • Kathy had a way about her. She can get any parent to volunteer and she's great with kids. She truly wants them to be successful and she understands that doesn't mean giving in to their toddler emotions or pandering to their antics. Loving firmness creates strong hearts and minds.

    • Kathy is resilient, dedicated and understanding. She doesn't get enough appreciation for her style of loving firmness. She truly gets the seeds she is planting.

    Food Service

    Sakai Food Service - Sakai

    • This team has taken feeding our kiddos to a whole new level. The menus have improved to restaurant-quality meals. 

    • They work together to get the students at all the elementary schools and Sakai fed.

    • This team knows the students at Sakai by name and engages with them in a positive manner.

    • They go above and beyond every single day!

    • They are so wonderful with the students.

    • Words used to describe you include: Teamwork, innovative, dedicated, fun, student-orientated


    Aimee Triana - BHS

    • Every single day, Aimee comes with an infectious optimism and sincerity that spreads to all people she comes in contact with, whether her direct students or not.

    • She brings her unique experiences to inspire and teach important lessons to those in the classroom. She causes the whole classroom to gravitate toward her, whether to get help with classwork or just to be part of the community she creates around her. 

    • In Modern World History with Mr. Hoffman, she uses her lived experiences growing up in a Cuban household and her knowledge of Cuban and global history to elevate nearly every conversation with analogies, anecdotes, and unique details that liven the whole room.

    • Aimee is an MVP: Most Valuable Para. Gifted with a Midas Touch for helping Learning Strategies students, anyone who works with her can attest: Miss Aimee makes a huge difference in the lives of Bainbridge High School students.

    • Not only do they know Miss Aimee is the go-to person for help with chemistry, but her encouragement and dedication to students involved in the BHS theatre program are also noteworthy.

    • Students are not the only beneficiaries of Aimee’s dedication: she makes a big difference in the lives of her colleagues. Aimee has made me a better teacher. As she’s shepherded students through my class the past several years, Aimee’s provided valuable feedback not only from a student's perspective but that of an educator, too! It feels as if I have a teaching coach in class several times a week, which is invaluable and greatly appreciated.

    • She is a fabulous liaison between special education teachers and general education teachers. Aimee is professional and personable and a student favorite for assistance with classwork.

    • Aimee is ready to assist anyone at any time and never has a bad word to say about anything. 

    • Words used to describe you include: Strong, profound, intelligent, positive, cheerful, helpful, approachable, professional, influential, selfless, hard-working, open, diligent, caring and supportive

    Jean Kusenda
    Jean Kusenda - District Office

    • She's my TEAM! During my time as Student Records Coordinator, I worked by that I have Jean, I can't imagine life without her.

    • I never have to worry about things being taken care of while I am out. She's simply amazing!

    • Jean has been the "go-to" person for all data needs for the Educlimber system. She's managed to automate attendance, discipline, grades, courses, etc. to flow into the Educlimber software so that others can find data points necessary to support students.

    • She's dependable, self-motivated, intelligent, funny, has excellent processing skills, and is a self-learner.

    • She's always looking for ways to fulfill our district's wishes, support their goals, and help in any way possible.


    Zahara Bowman - Blakely

    • Zahara is a student who just lights up your day. Her sparkling smile, sunny personality, and constant kindness are such a gift to our

    • school community.

    • Zahara has a wonderful attitude and never gives up or complains. She is flexible and a hard worker.

    • Zahara has a strong heart, mind and community that can be seen through her perseverance and joyful encouragement of those around her.

    • Zahara is one of the kindest students I know. She looks out for other kids and is always willing to help a friend. She has such a warm, bubbly personality that people all over our school are drawn to her. She makes people feel good and that is so important!

    • Zahara supports her peers in Math Group with kindness and patience that can be felt by all. She is the first to tell a peer who may be feeling stuck that they can do it!

    • Zahara is seen as a leader as she takes on challenges with determination and positivity. Her perseverance guides her through problems, working to find solutions even when they seem out of reach.

    • Zahara always notices the best in others and sets an example for others.

    • Words used to describe you include:  amazing,  caring, creative, determined, empathetic, friendly, fun, inclusive, joyful, kind, leader,  smart, smiley, steadfast, tenacious, warm, wonderful, and a hard worker


    Ray Beyer

    Ray Beyer- WMS

    • Ray Beyer is a thoughtful, kind, and compassionate young man in his words and actions.  

    • When he was in Culinary Arts, he modeled inclusion every day.  During many cooking classes this fall, Ray was part of a kitchen team that included a variety of skill levels and he took the initiative to include everyone in the tasks.

    • His ideas for including all students were for useful and desirable tasks, not just busy work.  

    • He was always polite and gentle.

    • It is an honor and a pleasure seeing Ray be so kind to others in class

    • Ray is a great example for other students to follow in this area.  He is a student who makes BISD strong.


    Jennifer Rose

    • She truly cares about her students and goes above and beyond.  

    • She cares about her students, not only how they are in the classroom academically but also on a personal level. 

    • Ms. Rose approaches everyone (student, colleague, family) with warmth and kindness.  She is intentional in her nurturing of equity in the classroom and among her community. 

    • Ms. Rose reminds all students and families that "all kids come to school to learn and everyone is working on something. Some students are working on standing up for themselves, some are working on reading, some are working on making friends, some are working on how to be part of a group, etc." I think this is a great way to communicate to even the youngest learners that we all have different challenges and it sets a foundation for better understanding in a classroom and larger community.

    • Each day she nurtures her students’ hearts and minds in myriad ways. She believes in each of her students and lets them know she has high expectations while also being a soft place for them to land. 

    • Words used to describe you include: Warm, Kind, Respectful, Engaged, Lovely, Safe, Caring, Talented, Professional, Funny, Resilient 

    Kelly de Guzman

    • Kelly is my colleague and every day we laugh, collaborate, and problem-solve. How lucky I am to have her!

    • She is masterful in how she approaches her work as a teacher. She understands her students, how to teach simply and elegantly, and how to create successful scenarios for kids who need help socially and academically. 

    • Kelly knows how to make kids feel safe, heard, and capable. She gives great advice, and she jumps in to help all the time. 

    • She is humble, brilliant, and fun to be around.

    • Words used to describe you: Generous, Empathetic, Talented, Organized, Funny, Warm, Caring, Smart

    Christy Remedios

    • Christy is a dedicated BISD parent, PTO leader and community member.

    • She has volunteered tirelessly —for Sakai Intermediate as PTO copresident, as past x̌alilc PTO copresident, and in her role as PTO Coordinating council Secretary for all of BISD, Christy has given back to the entire BISD community. We are lucky to have her!!

    • Words used to describe you include: Positive, kind, inclusive, dedicated volunteer & leader


    Emily Hancock

    • Emily has always had such a big heart, and truly brings our school together. 

    • Emily works hard as one of the leaders of the EHHS leadership team. She creates plans, prepares, and enacts them. Emily provides comfort and energy, and is one of the most empathetic humans on the planet. 

    • She stuck by my side when I needed her most, and provided me with the support I needed to get out of a tough mental place. 

    • Emily has been serving our school from day one, and works hard to make everyone feel welcome and heard. 

    • Words used to describe you: Empathetic, compassionate, strong


    Camille Heidemann

    • Camille is an incredible example of a kind, inclusive and positive leader in the high school community.

    • Camille is someone who lights up every room she walks into. She is compassionate, and welcoming to everyone she comes in contact with. Her positive energy is infectious. She makes BHS better!

    • Camille is a Spirit Squad Captain for the cheer program is also the president of Circle of Friends at the High School. She is a natural leader and is always inclusive of those around her and seeks out students who she feels are not being included.  

    • Camille always wants to show others her appreciation for them- whether baking cookies for the office staff, or being there for a friend, she always shows gratitude and kindness towards others.

    • Words used to describe you include: Thoughtful, generous, inclusive, positive, ambitious, kindhearted, respectful, supportive

    Sharon Tu’inukaufe

    • Sharon shows us all - colleagues and students alike - what it's like to live by your principles. An unwavering commitment to equity and empowerment guides her teaching and her leadership. 

    • Strong Heart: Sharon is committed to the well-being of every student. She teaches AP Chemistry to ambitious science-minded kids and supports them through the intense preparation that demands, and she has built a phenomenal Forensic Science program that not only gets students really excited about science but also gives them opportunities to develop skills they need to understand their world, such recognizing how bias shapes our perspective. I often think that the most important conversations in our school are happening in Forensics because Sharon has the knowledge and the courage to bring up difficult topics -- and she knows how important it is to do so. 

    • Strong Minds: First of all, Sharon herself is so smart and so committed to learning. She embeds current events into her courses, engages in a continual process of reflection and improvement in her teaching practice, and is always bringing new resources forward to our equity meetings. She also believes in the potential of every one of her students, and they can sense this. With Sharon's support, they build their own knowledge and confidence. 

    • Strong Community: Because she wants to see change at BHS, she took on the role of Equity Lead, and she has been visionary and tenacious in that role. She meets regularly with administrators, hosts thoughtfully planned meetings for colleagues, and leads really effective staff PD. As the chair of the science department, she led her team through processes to align their curriculum, instruction, and assessment, resulting in science experiences that were more engaging and accessible to students. She wants our community to be stronger and more equitable, and she's willing to work to make that happen. 

    • Words used to describe you include: Courageous, committed, brilliant, funny, principled

    Taylor Adcock 

    • Taylor is an inspiring person. Always full of warmth and kindness, she truly represents BISD strong. 

    • She embodied a strong community with her relentless attempts on the high school cross country team to welcome any and all freshmen into the community, introducing them to other members of the team.

    • She shows her strong heart with her passion for reaching out. Whenever someone was alone or feeling done, Taylor was there. Whenever someone was having trouble, she cheered them up by singing One Direction or Harry Styles. 

    • She's always there to answer questions when needed and when she doesn't have an answer she'll make sure to find one.

    • Taylor deserves this award because she would never expect someone to nominate her for this. She is too humble to even realize that she represents any of the BISD's strong qualities much less deserves an award for it! 

    • Words used to describe you include: Kind, caring, inspiring and friendly 



    Anna Daniels

    • Anna is committed to the success of Food Service. 

    • She is an absolutely amazing support to all of the staff. 

    • She is a strong leader and encompasses all things that BISD Strong represents.

    • She is compassionate, thoughtful, committed to student nutrition and is working directly with the farmers to help navigate our Farm to School program.

    • What Anna brings to the table is so much more than one would expect. She is the glue that allows all of us to do our job. 

    • Words used to describe you include: Kind, Honest, Compassionate, Intelligent, Team Player, Amazing


    x̌alilc ELEMENTARY

    Sally Corcoran

    • Sally is so very helpful all over our school building. Her support for the students and staff this year has really helped our school days be successful.

    • Sally has been tremendously strong and supportive when we have challenging days. Her calm voice and smile always help our students when they need it.

    • She is my calm.

    • Words used to describe you: Awesome, calm, happy, energized, supportive and so many more to name, Sally is wonderful.

    Kourtney Maka

    • Ms. Maka is kind and helpful.

    • I am nominating her for her unwavering dedication to students who need to learn things a bit differently. It has changed my child's life. She cares so deeply about her responsibility to be a mentor to the kids in her charge, she is truly changing lives.

    • My child didn’t like going to school because of their reading level, with her support and extra time, they are finally not only catching up but excited about school. She has even found different strategies that work for my child because the usual things were not working. 

    • In third grade, she helped me with my writing work.  She makes me feel happy and like I can do things. 

    • Words used to describe you include: Nice, kind, helpful, patient, caring 

    David Chandler

    • David is a hard worker and very helpful

    • He was especially helpful with the logistics for the Name Celebration at x̌alilc(Halilts) and was willing to do what was needed to make sure everything went well. 

    • Words used to describe you include: Nice, gentle and helpful





    Johannes Pohl - Transportation

    • Johannes is an example of a super bus driver.  He is very conscientious about making sure students are safe on the bus.
    • He is cheerful every morning when picking up students; it's comforting to know that the first face our kiddos see each day is a smiling one.  His bus is consistently on time every day
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, reliable

    Diane Bedell

    Diane Bedell - STEM Teacher at Blakely

    • Diane constantly looks for ways to help students build on their passions and make positive changes in the world.
    • Diane consistently goes above and beyond. 
    • She is never satisfied with the status quo and always seeks new ways to inspire and engage her students. Most recently, Diane guided her students to audit and reduce the use of plastic at Blakely School. Her students communicated with BISD admin and together, they are reducing single-use plastics in our lunch program and eventually throughout the district. Those students are witnessing the power of their actions. Amazing.
    • Diane's strong heart finds the very best in every student.
    • Diane engages students with current, real-life topics and inspires kids to seek solutions and create change. 
    • Words used to describe you include: creative, persistent, gritty, inspirational, troubleshooter, engineer, collaborator, passionate, thoughtful, hardworking, activist, inspiring 

    Jennifer Kilby

    Jennifer Kilby - Ordway Kindergarten Teacher

    • Jenny is an outstanding teacher! She is genuinely invested in each of her student's success.  I watch her attend to our daughter's individual needs while simultaneously creating a wonderful and supportive group dynamic for the class.  
    • She sets high academic expectations, with undercurrents of fun, respect, and enthusiasm that exude from the whole class.  Our daughter is very lucky to have her as a teacher this year. 
    • I had the privilege to help with the Helpline food drive in November.  Walking with the kindergarten class down to Helpline House and back was so much fun.  Jenny's attention and expectations for her class were truly awesome.  Jenny is a master class in classroom management. It was so fun to watch her teach and watch her students thrive.   
    • Ordway and the Bainbridge School District are lucky to have Jenny as an educator.  She has truly been an amazing start to our daughter's schooling.  
    • Words used to describe you include: thoughtful, considerate, and supportive

    Laura Nelson

    Laura Nelson - Ordway Librarian

    • Ms. Nelson is a wonderful educator.  She is creative, curious, and knows how to connect with children. 
    • She challenges students to think critically and independently in an environment where it is okay to fail. 
    • She comes up with interesting projects and games and makes learning so fun.
    • Ms. Nelson is also an incredible librarian.  She makes it a point to find and highlight books that expand the awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the variety of cultural and religious occasions that occur throughout the year.  She also tries hard to make every student feel special. 
    • Ordway students look forward to their time in the library because Ms. Nelson knows how to meet every child where they are.  She reads them interesting books, suggests titles in genres they are interested in, and is careful never to judge choices.  She has an army of Junior Librarians for good reason:  Ms. Nelson is beloved.   
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, curious, energetic, and positive


    Bernadette Fay - Ordway Attendance Secretary 

    • Bernadette helps make Ordway the special place that it is.  She stands smiling at the front door to welcome late-arriving students and harried parents. 
    • She watches over our school breakfast and makes sure every child has a good meal and hears a kind word to start his/her/their day. She organizes lovely lunches and social events for our teachers and staff (her tea party was epic!)  She posts silly jokes in the teacher and staff restroom to brighten everyone's day.  She's quick to laugh and always willing to listen.  She helps out anywhere she's needed and is a joy to be around.
    • Bernadette is a wonderful colleague and BISD is so lucky to have her as an employee for the past 15 + years. While her official roles are the attendance registrar, health room paraeducator and office professional, her unofficial role is the heart of Ordway.
    • She is often the first person the children and families talk to when they come to the office or call. At every turn, she is caring and kind to our students and families. She encourages independence and manners and takes time to thank or praise students, parents and colleagues when someone has been a help or done well. If a student needs a little extra love, she is always willing to listen.
    • Smart, detail-oriented and a hard worker, Bernadette is always quick with a joke, a laugh, or a funny story, which means there is always productive work AND laughter in the office when she is around.
    • Bernadette creates a warm and welcoming environment at Ordway for parents, students, teachers, and staff.  She always has a smile on her face and never complains when parents or volunteers takel the pens from her desk (which is often). 
    • Words used to describe you include: team player, kind, creative, community-minded, hard worker, smart, detail-oriented, problem solver and funny

    Ingrid Ryan

    Ingrid Ryan - Wilkes 4th Grade Teacher 

    • Ingrid is kind, caring and an inspiration to other staff at Wilkes.
    • My younger siblings and I all had her as our fourth-grade teacher. She has had a profound impact on each of us that goes beyond what one would expect from an elementary school educator. Her kindness and the care she obviously has for each of her students make her an exceptional teacher.
    • Three of my kids have had Ingrid as their 4th-grade teacher, and all of them have noted the impacts she's had on them... Every child should be so lucky to experience Ingrid's classroom!
    • She is a great teacher who generally cares about each and every one of her students.  
    • I was in Ms. Ryan’s 4th-grade class 9 years ago. I am now a freshman in college, but to this day, she still asks my mom if I still like writing short stories, which Is a passion I shared with her all these years ago. Every time I hear this, I am amazed that she remembers me and the specifics of my character after so long. This is just an example of what a thoughtful and truly caring person and educator she is. I frequently think about how thankful I am that I went through her class. 
    • Ingrid embodies BISD strong: she has compassion for her students; she's an excellent teacher academically; she creates community, whether it's by using Harry Potter to create teams that set goals and work together, or sharing volleyball skills with her students during recess when she realized several were learning to play. 
    • Words used to describe you include: insightful, calm, caring, kind, thoughtful, impactful, inspirational, compassionate, supportive, engaging, honest, helpful, and understanding.


    Kelly Pellegrino - Wilkes 2nd Grade Teacher 

    • For the past two years, Kelly has led the staff equity work at Wilkes Elementary School. This year she has invited both certificated and classified employees to monthly equity team meetings to discuss the issues and topics as they pertain to our Wilkes community. The purpose is to develop our knowledge, vision for our community, and values we want to be held accountable for, and plan school-wide events to strengthen the connection between our families and the school. 
    • Kelly provides informative, interesting articles and book recommendations to further our understanding as we do this work together. 
    • She challenges us to be reflective and examine our beliefs and biases. 
    • Kelly is a valuable member of our Wilkes team and exemplifies our district’s guiding principles of strong minds, strong hearts, and strong community.  


    Terri Atkinson - Sakai 6th Grade Teacher 

    • Terri has, for years, gone above and beyond not only for all students but for Sakai as a whole. Gives her whole self every single day. 
    • Ms. Atkinson works really hard, every day she works on the broadcast & provides us with helpful skills, like how to walk with tea and proper etiquette for parties.
    • Over the years, Terri has led and facilitated the daily Sakai Broadcast, Student Council, the Sakai Talent Show, and the school-wide Helpline House Food Drive (which consistently, year after year, exceeds all goals!). She does much of this using her own free time and resources. All the while, she continues to be an excellent teacher engaging with each and every student, meeting them where they are.  
    • Terri is honest and straightforward. I believe this is one of the reasons she has garnered so much trust and respect from her students and coworkers. 
    • Terri doesn’t take no for an answer. She pushes forward and finds a way. I believe Terri would fight hard for any student in any situation, no matter what. 
    • If I were in a scary or complicated situation, I would want Terri with me. Not only does she not get flustered, but she is able to lighten the mood with humor.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, helpful, trustworthy, honest, tenacious, compassionate, creative, strong, kind, smart, witty, reliable 


    Drew Crandall - Sakai Principal

    • Mr. Crandall is such an asset to the district and an incredible principal.
    • Mr. Crandall has been such an advocate for our student's success at Sakai. We have been so grateful to have him as a part of our team getting our kids back to school. We can't thank him enough. 
    • It is plain to see how much he cares for all of the kids in his school, investing his time connecting with them at recess, in the lunchroom, and as the bell rings in the halls. 
    • He is so accessible to all. He continues to show he will do everything in his power to make sure our kids' time at Sakai is one full of growth and joy. The joy and excitement he brings to each day is infectious. 
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, joyful, encouraging, positive


    Jackson Murray - Sakai 6th Grade Student

    • Jackson is a ray of sunshine in the classroom.  
    • He also goes out of his way to be kind to others.  
    • He makes sure people feel included and valued.  
    • He puts others before himself and is a model example of inclusion and equality.
    • He has a kind, strong heart.
    • Words used to describe you include: happy, inclusive, loving, caring, kind, leader 


    Katie Gibbs - Sakai Music Teacher

    • Katie is the epitome of BISD strong!
    • She is very caring.  She has a big heart and really cares about all the students at the school.
    • She challenges the students in her music classes.  She introduces them to music in a creative, challenging and supportive way.  She has very high expectations, and her students reach those expectations.  She respects her students and they respect her. 
    • She has created musical outlets for her students with her after-school Choir Club.....they sang the National Anthem at the Mariner's game!  She also helps out with the school's Talent Show.  
    • She is very supportive of her colleagues.  She always has a smile on her face and a positive attitude!
    • She does so much to make Sakai a more valued and inclusive school for ALL of the students.
    • Words used to describe you include: outgoing, friendly, supportive, challenging, caring, helpful, amazing

    Katie Erickson

    Katie Erickson - BHS Learning Strategies Teacher

    • Katie is always so engaged with her students and goes out of her way to make them feel comfortable, seen, heard and understood. She takes on so much and is so patient and kind every day. 
    • She is an incredible leader and role model for the staff and makes connections which each and every one of them. In her role, she has to understand and teach all the subjects taught at BHS, and she takes this very seriously and ensures she has knowledge of all areas.
    • The dedication and caring she puts forth for both students and staff are beyond measure. Her upbeat, positive energy creates a classroom environment that is both productive and respectful. 
    • She has the strongest heart and shows compassion daily for her students and the staff. She makes it known that she cares for everyone she interacts with on an individual level.
    • She strengthens the BISD and BHS communities by making her classroom a safe space for her students and reaching out to all of them when they are struggling.
    • She is firm, kind and understanding. She is able to help her students with a variety of subjects and always takes the time to find the answers she doesn’t know. Everyone feels comfortable going to her.
    • Katie works with grace and understanding. She builds confidence in each of her students to believe in themselves and instills in them that they can be successful. 
    • Words used to describe you: kind, compassionate, driven, empathetic, intelligent, reliable, dedicated, caring, respectful

    Hege Miller

    Hege Miller - BHS Food Service

    • Hege always has a smile and makes every student she encounters at BHS feel welcome and has everything they need for a nourishing meal. 
    • She is wonderful and helpful to her co-workers in the kitchen, always willing to go above and beyond.
    • If we are short-staffed, she comes in early to help. 
    • She embodies everything BISD wants the staff to be!
    • Words used to describe you: hardworking, good work ethic, attention to detail, willing to go the extra mile, accountable


    Elaine Krogfoss - BISD Food & Nutrition Supervisor

    • Elaine has been amazingly responsive in Blakely's efforts to eliminate single-use plastics.  We couldn't do it without her support.
    • She has been creative in finding ways to help eliminate single-serve items, and I can only imagine that has taken time, effort and commitment with the rest of her staff's support as well.  I am very impressed and grateful!
    • Words used to describe you include: creative, open, helpful

    Lucy Rector

    Lucy Rector - BHS 12th Grade Student

    • Lucy is one of the most impactful students at BHS. Through her kindness and selfless acts, as well as her immense participation in school-related events, Lucy is a truly special person. I feel so lucky to know her because of the positive impact she has made on my life.
    • When I am around her at school, I notice the energy she puts into her interactions and conversations. People always say “Hi” to Lucy because they feel comfortable, supported, and heard by her. It is people that make us feel these things that we will always remember, and I know how many people she has made feel this way. Lucy makes me feel less alone in this world.
    • Lucy's heart is one of the biggest I know. Anytime someone has asked to join her in doing something, her answer has been yes. She loves a lot of things- especially BHS. 
    • Her perseverance and desire to learn represent her strong mind. I am always impressed by the people that are okay with being wrong when they raise their hand. To be willing to raise your hand and say what you think is a very admirable characteristic, arguably the most significant aspect of a strong mind. Lucy does this every day. She understands that she can learn from those around her, which happens a great deal when you contribute to the class.
    • From ASB to leadership class to Hike Club Vice President to volunteering at the Helpline House, Lucy contributes to the Bainbridge Community. 
    • Words used to describe you include: hilarious, kind, caring, encouraging, positive, one-of-a-kind, empathetic, creative, thoughtful, amazing


    Lilah Wakefield - Odyssey 7th Grade Student

    • At the beginning of the school year, I asked for student volunteers in our 7/8 grade Odyssey class to assist with the kindergarten class during their Thursday mornings before school. Since the beginning of January, Lilah has been the consistent student helper who shows up each and every Thursday without fail.  
    • All of the kindergarteners love her and are excited that she volunteers her time to be with them in music. She has made a commitment to these young people in our school, and I am so proud of Lilah for showing such care to younger students. 
    • She is patient and kind with each student in the kindergarten class. Lilah sings and dances with the students. 
    • She encourages hesitant learners and is supportive and enthusiastic. Lilah also helps students who may be having a difficult day by talking to them and encouraging them. Lilah treats the kindergartners with dignity and respect. 
    • Words used to describe you include: caring, musical, intuitive, creative, enthusiastic, a student leader and role model 

    Susan Fidelman

    Susan Fidelman - Mosaic Paraeducator

    • Susan epitomizes BISD Strong.  She is often one of the first staff members who arrives in the morning, and the last to leave in the evening.  
    • She is a cheerleader and recruiter for all our programs, she teaches Latin, she supervises lunch... she is a true Renaissance woman. 
    • I am always so warmed by her sunny disposition and easygoing spirit... quite a feat for someone who works as tirelessly as she does.  
    • She's seen a lot, has weathered all the changes and is a true team player, working to make all of us and all our programs better.  
    • Words used to describe you include: committed, supportive, warm, generous, interested in all
  • marlo

    Marlo Dorny, BHS Teacher

    • Marlo is an amazing, supportive, kind, accommodating, and down-to-earth person.

    • She gives hope, light, peace, strength, and love to her students.

    • She always shows up, encourages, and offers words of wisdom and humor.


    Jamie Harker, Blakely & District Office Custodian

    • I am nominating Jamie for her kindness, her positive attitude, and her ability to spread joy.

    • The moment I met Jamie, I can tell she loves her job and wants to be here. She always has a smile and wants to bring joy to everyone's day. She knows the students count on her and look forward to the notes she leaves at buildings. 

    • Jamie leaves me the sweetest notes in my office whenever she works at the DO. They bring me so much joy & brighten my day. 

    • Words used to describe Jamie include: kind, joyful, positive


    Tom Pelland, Blakely Food Services

    • "Mr. Tom" is somebody who makes my children feel a sense of belonging in their school.  My kindergartner opts for school lunch almost every day because she wants to be able to see Mr. Tom. My child looks forward to Mr. Tom greeting her by name and letting her know that he's been looking forward to seeing her.  I believe it is in the small, seemingly mundane moments that belonging is expressed and nurtured.

    • Mr. Tom makes such a significant impact despite only interacting with children for a brief period of their day.  He dedicates so much of himself to showing up for our students.

    • Words used to describe Tom include: friendly, funny, caring, dedicated

    Julie Larson Hughes

    Julie Larson-Hughes, BHS Athletic Secretary 

    • Julie is a gem! She puts kids first, and no matter the nature of the request — athletic or not— she is there.

    • She is the hardest worker and has the biggest heart - yet - she is humble.

    • Julie is strong in every way and she always has your (kiddos) back 

    • Words used to describe Julie include: Super SMART - like amazingly smart


    Chasity Malatesta, BISD Volunteer

    • Chasity demonstrates in her words and actions all of the BISD STRONG attributes as a school volunteer, parent, teacher, and active community member. 

    • She is incredibly generous with her time, expertise, knowledge, and ideas to make our schools, district, and community a better place, especially for our children.  We are all better and stronger because of her heartfelt contributions and words.

    • Chasity is one of those parents you can always call upon to help.  When she volunteers, Chasity is truly present and engaged with the students. They feel her energy and fun factor, making for a richer experience for everyone. From recess activities to field day, prepping students before class pictures, and more, she has signed up for any and all opportunities.  

    • She also served as the Wilkes MAC representative on the PTO, bringing a greater level of awareness with important perspectives during meeting discussions. She speaks with an authenticity that opens and encourages dialogue and greater understanding for one another. Everyone has a story to tell, and Chasity fosters a space for school staff, students, and families to share those.  To find our commonalities, celebrate our differences, and build stronger mindsets, foundations, and communities moving forward.

    • When she speaks, I am always left feeling replenished, better, and motivated to do more for others.  She is inspiring and personifies BISD STRONG.

    • Words used to describe Chasity include: engaging, a positive force, community-focused, open-minded, accepting, loving, contagious energy, friend to all, student-focused, intelligent, gracious, generous, optimistic, sees and looks for the best in others, approachable, fun and full of kindness


    Lindsey Peterson-Marshall, Blakey Paraeducator

    • Lindsey works in the front office, lunchroom, and playground, all hard jobs requiring patience, understanding, and a community spirit. Lindsey exhibits these qualities in spades. 

    • She is warm and lovely with students and parents, she is always helpful to teachers, and she is a skilled mediator on the playground who really takes time to help children work through their problems.

    • Lindsey knows the names of every student in the school and notices who needs help interacting with peers, who needs a gentle touch when they are having a tough day, and who needs to make space for quieter voices to be heard. She helps kids develop their own community and is quick to laugh when kids are funny.

    • Words used to describe Lindsey include: kind, fun, patient, smart, engaged, adored


    Gretchen Fiscus, 9th grade, Eagle Harbor High School

    • Gretchen is new to our district and a real asset.  She loves learning and boosts people up constantly.

    • She is an amazing person! She always stays positive no matter what, supports her peers with endless positivity, and is kind to everyone. She is one of the hardest workers I have ever had in my classroom. Her grit and persistence, coupled with her positivity, are contagious.

    • She supports and encourages everyone around her. She is a fantastic community leader, volunteering for the school leadership team and helping to plan events. She never gives up, even when things in class are hard for her.

    • Gretchen's strong heart helps her see things that others would like, things that others struggle with, and things that will improve others' days.  She is always boosting her peers up.

    • She listens closely to feedback from teachers and peers and thanks them, incorporating suggestions immediately into her learning.  Gretchen creates community everywhere she goes.  She is the first person to invite someone to with her or to encourage a quiet peer to give an opinion. Gretchen is the personification of a Growth Mindset.

    • Her positive attitude is a good model to all.

    • Words used to describe Gretchen include: kind, intuitive, studious, inclusive, dedicated, persistent, compassionate, leader and a friend to all.


    Vega Jolley, 4th grade, Odyssey

    • Vega wrote a project agreement, organized her peers into a crew, and enacted a project to better her school.

    • In our big Odyssey 1-4 classroom, the only natural light we have comes from an interior courtyard. It was overtaken by thimbleberries and weeds. Vega brought the light back! She worked to study thimbleberries and then went out to make change happen. She clipped and hauled wheelbarrow loads, and, just as important, she learned that a true leader sometimes needs to delegate and share her vision with others. Wow. How amazing.

    • Vega used her strong heart and mind to strengthen her community. It was a generous way to spend her time and we are all the better for it.

    • Words used to describe Vega include: generous, hard-working, creative, problem-solver, leader, organized


    Sue Miller, Sakai Teacher, 

    • Sue has connected meaningful books with both my kiddos-- books that they have loved and still love.  :) She has reached them (and their classmates) in this special way that will stay with them for their lifetimes.

    • Reading and stories build strong minds.  Through her introduction to literature, students have learned about their world and themselves-- also building strong hearts and helping them to build a strong community.

    • She has gotten to know each of my kids during a meaningful time in their lives.  I'm glad they each got the opportunity to work with her and know her.

    • Words used to describe Sue include: insightful, caring, professional, well-read, organized, soft-spoken


    Abby Hoag, Blakely Teacher

    • Abby goes above and beyond for our son to support his emotional and academic development. Words cannot express our gratitude. Teachers like Abby that see children for their strengths and uniqueness, are what make all the difference.

    • I am impressed with Abby’s daily check-ins and her constant care and communication.

    • Words used to describe Abby include: Amazing! Not all heroes wear capes.

  • BISD STRONG Spring 2022

    Congratulations to the winners of the BISD STRONG Award. 

    The BISD STRONG Award honors the district's guiding principles of STRONG MINDS, STRONG HEARTS, STRONG COMMUNITY.



    Hans Griesser, Math Teacher

    • Hans addresses all learning styles in his classroom through a variety of teaching strategies, and he is determined to help each student see the relevance of math plus feel successful.
    • Hans brings real-world relevance into the classroom. He shows students through visual representations, drawings, and explanations and encourages students to take risks so that they can learn from their mistakes. There are no "silly questions." 
    • Hans is also sensitive to his student population and designs assignments and assessments accordingly. He is available to all students for help and welcomes both students and staff into his classroom.
    • Hans works before and after school to be available to students for support. He believes we are born with a knowledge of math (and music) that just needs to be unlocked. He inspires students to look beyond numbers and shapes and see math in the real world.
    • Words used to describe you include: resourceful, patient, brilliant, wise, creative, tenacious, caring, and encouraging.

    Rilla Hughes

    Rilla Hughes, Counseling Secretary 

    • Rilla is the glue to the counseling department. Without her, we would be absolutely lost (no joke)! She does SO much for counselors, teachers, and students and does countless other tasks that many do not know about.
    • She is highly organized, dedicated, and someone who I can lean on for help professionally and personally. I cannot imagine a world without her in it!
    • Rilla will drop anything to help. Whether it's finding a space for a student in crisis, troubleshooting Parchment issues, making sure our sparkling water is stocked or running the P223, she does everything efficiently and with a smile. 
    • She takes time to get to know every student that comes into the counseling office and makes everyone feel welcome. 
    • Rilla is the friendly face of the counseling department whose presence is valuable to the BHS community.
    • Words used to describe you include: energetic, friendly, diligent, helpful, patient, knowledgeable

    Max Richards

    Maxwell Richards, 10th grader

    • I always feel happy when I see Max enter the classroom. He has a warm smile and is always excited about whatever we are doing that day.
    • Max is all about how he can support the BISD community.  He has a particular interest in leadership, gardening and technology.  He's a longtime member of the school's ASB leadership, founded the Gardening Club and has created a student technology advisory and support position.   
    • Max is really curious about things and asks great questions.  He's always thinking about how learning could be improved and shares his wonderings with staff members in a positive way that often leads to change.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, compassionate, caring, helpful, joyous, curious, thoughtful, analytical, hardworking and knowledgeable


    Enrique Chee, Teacher & Robotics Coach

    • Nine years ago, BHS Spartronics Team 4915 was built with the goal of not just building robots but using the robot-building process to teach students how to work together as a team and effectively communicate with each other, mentors, and our community.
    • Coach Chee serves as a constant example of effective communication. He is always showing students how to communicate with each other and with mentors to speed up the robot-building process and promote a shared understanding of what the team is doing.
    • Coach Chee's deep expertise in mechanics and electronics has been essential to our team's success. His leadership was key to our team earning three trips to the World Championships in 9 years. 
    • Mr. Chee has been teaching physics at BHS and, within his class has made students change the way they perceive the world through physics. By broadening our perspectives, he’s continued to create more open-minded students. In class, he has always shown his passion for teaching and allows students to draw their own conclusions and learn from their mistakes.
    • Words used to describe you include: passionate, thought-provoking, energetic, hardworking, entertaining, funny, engaging, good leader, brilliant, caring, honest, flexible and understanding

    Woodward Middle School

    Makena Crosser

    Makena Crosser, 8th grader

    • Makena is not only a hard-working, kind and conscientious student but has also been an outstanding member of Builders Club for the past two years. 
    • Makena joined Builders Club in 7th grade when it was a weekly club that met over Zoom. She has consistently demonstrated interest, enthusiasm and passion for the community service projects that we've done in Builders Club. In addition to our projects, this spring, as the war in Ukraine was unfolding, Makena expressed a desire for Builders Club to try to do more for people halfway around the world. She has such a caring heart and goes out of her way to do good things for others.
    • Words used to describe you include: compassionate, introspective, kind, and driven


    Lisa Hagerman, Food Services

    • Lisa models the very best of teamwork and has a student-centered, positive approach to her work.
    • Lisa is a most positive, dedicated, thoughtful staff person - always willing to help; Lisa has filled in as the Kitchen Manager at Woodward this year and has led the team to record meal counts, exciting classroom partnerships and created a smooth-running kitchen.
    • Lisa is a great "trainer" of new staff while offering support and encouragement to her team and to students every day.  
    • Lisa creates special menu items for her students with food sensitivities.
    • Words used to describe you include: positive, friendly, hard-working, flexible, patient, creative, supportive


    Betsy Carlson, Teacher

    • She is super cheery, bright, and very wise if you ask for help with anything and is always there for anyone.
    • She asks her students how we were doing and if we were overwhelmed. When some of us said we felt like we had a lot of tests going on all the time, she asked us to talk about it more and ways she could talk to the other teachers to help make a better schedule for us. 
    • She has always been a good example because she is very wise and reflects with us on what we can do better without only telling us we did something wrong. 
    • She puts in the time and the work to make sure all her students are doing well and tries to help and advocate for her students in any way she can. 
    • Words used to describe you include: strong, reliable, warm-hearted, friendly, considerate, wise, funny, a trusted advocate, calm, reasonable, caring



    Katie Gregerson, Teacher

    • Ms. Gregerson has changed our student’s academic and social trajectory.  As parents, we will look back and say she was one of those teachers that made all the difference. 
    • Her confidence in her students is contagious.  She proactively works to create more excitement and positivity around learning.  
    • She puts in extra time and thought for class seating, and group discussion to foster greater engagement.  She checks in with students to facilitate independence. She makes an extra effort to help her students connected, seen and heard which builds a greater willingness to learn! Ms. Gregerson has been a game-changer.
    • Ms. Gregerson truly sees her students, understands them, meets them where they are, and shifts as they shift.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, dedicated, thoughtful, resourceful, contagious optimism, caring but firm, empathetic, fun, energetic, knowledgeable

    Commodore Options

    Liz Finin

    Liz Finin, Teacher

    • I am always so amazed at what a hard-working, fun, creative and engaging teacher she is.  She uses every minute of her instruction time carefully, reading the mood of the class, and knows how to pivot and adjust her plans to keep her students focused and learning!  
    • She is a truly gifted teacher and very clearly represents the qualities of BISD STRONG.  
    • Liz makes positive connections with all her students, as well as with our Odyssey family community.  She knows her students' interests, their after school activities and keeps up with what's going on in their lives.
    • Liz promotes kindness and caring attitudes in her classroom and is quick to redirect her students when necessary.  Her students feel accepted, valued and respected. 
    • Liz always remains very patient with her students and always seems to understand their struggles. 
    • Liz spends a lot of time working to meet the individual needs of her students.  And Liz does it all with such poise, grace and humor!  Just ask her students ... she knows how to make them laugh with a good "dab" gesture.
    • Many of her former students come back every year to see Liz.  She has clearly touched so many of their lives in wonderful ways!
    • Words used to describe you include: funny, creative, engaging, caring, hard-working, a team player


    Deliah Hubbard, Paraeducator

    • Deliah is such a positive person and everywhere she gets involved, she lifts up the people around her. She's a caring paraeducator, a sunny presence at Commodore, and a skilled artist and art teacher in the community. 
    • Deliah goes above and beyond every day working with students. She is always calm and honest and respectful towards the students. They see her as a trusted friend who believes in them. Her students are very lucky to have her in their lives!
    • She always has a smile, a wave, and a moment to share a kind word. She's the type of person that notices slumped shoulders or a sad expression and steps in with kindness.
    • Deliah has a spring in her step and brightens every room she enters. 
    • Deliah is hardworking and reliable. She connects with her students in a very real way and cares for them as she would her own children. She is funny and optimistic. 
    • Words used to describe you include: funny, artistic, creative, authentic, loving, patient, easygoing, resilient, brave



    Janna Esarey, Bus Driver

    • Janna is a true gem! She makes the ride to and from school extra special for her lucky group of special kids. They listen to podcasts, tell silly stories, pick a book from her curated book basket, and listen to music. 
    • She adeptly handles the challenges that inevitably present themselves with this audience: suggesting and coordinating alternate drop off schedules to allow the ants-iest of the bunch to get home quickest, kindly but firmly bringing attention to any out of line behavior and helping develop a plan to correct it, allowing a fidget to live in her glove compartment so it’s ready for the ride home, and even bringing her family’s own beloved, falling apart, held-together-with-bandaids frog stuffy as a comfort toy for any kid who needs it. 
    • My absolute favorite was when my son came home so inspired by the 9-decker bus he had invented with Janna over that he decided to draw it -- complete with a swimming pool and restaurant -- and proudly showed her the next day. I honestly feel that this was the beginning of his love for drawing!
    • Janna gives these kids so much more than just a ride to school. We truly love her and feel she is very worthy of recognition.
    • Words used to describe you include: Creative, compassionate, fun, flexible


    Ingvar Carlson, Bus Driver

    • Ingvar performs his job with so much heart and humor!  He is even able to keep things light-hearted and fun when kids need to be corrected.  The ride home from school is the cherry on top of the school day.  It means a lot to me as a parent to have my kids get off the bus in great moods.   
    • Driving a bus of rambunctious children and teens is no easy task!  Somehow he is able to take what could be a stressful experience into something that my son looks forward to daily. I'm grateful to have such a warm-hearted person in our community.  
    • For a short period, I was picking my kids up from school.  My elementary student begged to ride the bus again, specifically because he missed Ingvar. 
    • Words used to describe you include: playful, good-natured, unflappable 
  • BISD STRONG Winners


    ERIN SHEEHAN - Blakely 1st Grade Teacher 

    • Erin goes above and beyond as a co-worker, friend and teacher. She goes out of her way to help others; she is a friend to all
    • She is a staff leader, always volunteering to take on tough jobs that make a difference in our school and community. 
    • Erin is a resource to parents, students and her co-workers. We all seek her expertise and judgment. Erin helps people grow without making them feel like they had any deficits. It's pretty remarkable.
    • Erin is a game-changer. She reflects constantly on her teaching and the changing world and researches resources to inspire others to do the same. She truly exhibits "Know better, do better."
    • Words used to describe you include: friend to all, thoughtful, smart, kind, encouraging, funny, helpful, creative, giving, gracious, problem solver, innovative, intuitive, resourceful and treasured 

    AVERIE DE GUZMAN- Woodward Middle School, 8th Grade Student

    • Averie is a consistent force of good at Woodward. She goes above and beyond her role in our ASB to make sure that every need at Woodward is covered.
    • Averie has it all covered — whether a teacher needs help making copies, or a student needs a chaperone to the office when they are not feeling well, if she senses someone needs a pick-me-up note, she is the queen of organization and checking those boxes that keep our ship afloat.
    • Words used to describe you include: optimistic, ready to accept challenges, organized, forward-thinking, mature, kind, thoughtful.

    MEG EVANS- Ordway Special Education

    • Since working with Meg, we have seen such amazing growth in our child's academic ability and self-confidence
    • Meg has a strong heart because she deeply cares about her work with the children and really sees the child for who they are as individuals.
    • She helps create strong minds because she supports the children she works with to achieve successful goals and builds their belief in the ability to do challenging things.  
    • Meg builds deep connections with the children she works with. When children feel that they have support, they build the self-confidence necessary to flourish.  When a collective of individuals feels supported and loved the whole community thrives. I have no doubt that the lasting impact of Meg's work with children, will have benefits that help not only our small community but the world.
    • Words used to describe you include: patient, observant, leader, compassionate and passionate

    LAUREN MELVIN - Ordway 3rd Grade Teacher

    • Lauren is an outstanding teacher who cares deeply for all her students.
    • Lauren strives to meet the individual needs of each of her students. Her follow-through with suggested strategies is phenomenal! 
    • She genuinely cares that her students do well and that they each have every opportunity to succeed.
    • Words used to describe you include: dedicated, conscientious, caring, committed, motivated

    AMY HART- Woodward Middle School, 8th Grade Student

    • Amy is strong and resilient and supportive of peers and the Woodward community. 
    • Amy comes to school every day happy to be here interacting with friends and staff.  She has been a great Office TA.  She greets students and staff enthusiastically.  She has strong leadership skills.
    • Words used to describe you include: honest, a loyal friend, a good role model 

    DANI STOEHR- Woodward Middle School Building Technology Support

    • Dani is an excellent technology leader at our school.  She is always willing to help staff during a crisis or in a long-term project. She is a great think partner.  We are so fortunate to have her.
    • She will run to our rescue for the smallest question or the biggest project. She will answer our pleas for help in the evening and even during the weekends.
    • WMS would be lost without her. 
    • Words used to describe you include: brilliant, kind, considerate, passionate, funny, dedicated

    EMILY SALING - Wilkes 2nd Grade Teacher

    • Emily has gone out of her way to make my daughter have a successful year.  Emily takes time to connect and love her students.  She works with them individually and meets them where they need it the most.  
    • I am in complete awe of Emily's professionalism, passion, hard work, and knowledge as an educator.
    • Emily has built a strong community in her classroom and has made my child feel like she is part of something special.
    • Emily has a heart and passion for teaching.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, passionate, goes above and beyond, knowledgeable, adaptable, considerate, and diligent  

    KELLY SPITZ - BISD District Office

    • Kelly’s upbeat and positive attitude is contagious, making him a joy to have as a colleague and friend. 
    • Kelly is a wonderful teammate and friend. He is quick to ask, “How can I help?” and always follows through on tasks he commits to doing.
    • Kelly always goes above and beyond to provide exemplary customer service and application/front desk support. He will take the time to walk potential employees through the application process step by step, and makes every person he interacts with feel welcome. 
    • Kelly takes pride in the work he does and is a great representation of what BISD is about. We are lucky to have him!!
    • Kelly is very process-oriented and strives to make sure we are consistent in our processes and treat every person who walks through the door or is employed by us equally. He is fair-minded and is quick to see the strengths of others.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, thoughtful, gracious, wicked smart, funny, caring, fair, honest, diplomatic, good communicator, detail-oriented, team-player, professional, responsible, dependable, trustworthy, multi-tasker

    KYUNG SOOK CHO - Bainbridge High School, Food Service 

    • Kyung Sook is new to the district food service department this year and has demonstrated remarkable dedication and commitment to serving students and supporting her colleagues.
    • Kyung Sook has volunteered to come in early/stay late nearly every day this year.  She always interacts with students in a helpful, sincere manner, explaining some of the nuances of the meal program to students and ensuring they have a positive interaction at lunchtime. 
    • Kyung Sook has worked at other schools in the district when the department has been short-staffed and demonstrates caring and teamwork at each school she visits.
    • Words used to describe you include: caring, focused on doing great work, focused on quality student interactions, supportive of her food service team, super nice

    JENNY DOXTATER - Transportation

    • My 5th-grade daughter regularly comments to me how nice Jenny is and tonight, I found a note that she wrote about Jenny as part of her gratitude practice — it simply read, “I’m grateful for my bus driver.” I’d like to recognize Jenny for her positive attitude and helping her riders open and close their school days with the warmth and kindness that she regularly shows them.
    • Jenny sets the tone of the day for students and within the few minutes of her bus ride, she tries to make it a positive one.
    • Said my daughter, “The morning bus ride with Jenny makes me feel relaxed and ready for the day ahead. She is so nice. I hope she is always my bus driver until I graduate!”
    • Words used to describe you include: understanding, kind, respectful and always greets riders by name
  • Since launching the BISD STRONG Award in 2017, the Bainbridge Island School District has received more than 500 nominations for individuals who represent the district’s guiding principles of strong minds, strong hearts and contribute to a strong community. For the Fall Nomination Term, BISD recently handed out 14 BISD STRONG Awards and is pleased to share a bit about the winners. 


    Erin Murphy

    Erin Murphy
    Deputy Superintendent

    • Ms. Murphy helps make BISD tick. Each and every day, she supports students, staff, parents, and the community with her tireless work ethic and desire to make BISD the best that it can be.
    • She is the glue that keeps this district running. She takes the time to listen to people and understand all aspects of a problem, and then she puts her amazing problem-solving skills into action to find solutions that respect and support her people. She leads through relationships and modeling true care for our staff and students.
    • Ms. Murphy is a fast thinker while being very thorough; the amount of high-level work she accomplishes in a short amount of time is remarkable. 
    • Words used to describe Ms. Murphy: thoughtful, driven, dedicated, wicked smart, articulate, positive, uplifting, funny, connected, empowering, resourceful, committed, caring, kind, intentional and diligent

    Megan Carson

    Megan Carson
    Bainbridge High School
    English Teacher

    • Ms. Carson has been an inspiring teacher and has helped me build a book club which has been one of the most important parts of my high school life. She taught me how to analyze and write like a pro while encouraging us all to notice the world around us. I couldn’t have made it through the last two years without her there to support me and the book club!
    • Ms. Carson teaches equity and empathy in the classroom. She challenges students to think outside the box and encourages them to reach for the stars and share their passions. She is also a great support system for her students and she fights for each one of their educations.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Carson include: brilliant, creative, inspiring and kind


    Denise Briggs Potter
    Bainbridge High School

    Learning Strategies Teacher

    • Ms. Briggs Potter has gone over and beyond the call of duty to help students in her classroom, especially during this pandemic. For the freshman class that came in last year, she did multiple check-ins and introduced our kids into a school that they never even entered. She facilitated connections with all their teachers and was on guard to make sure her students achieved academic success.
    • Ms. Briggs Potter has continued in full form this year, we are so lucky to have such a committed teacher in our fold, she cares so much about her students and takes pride in their successes. She loves what she does and she makes BHS a better place for all her students. You cannot say enough good things about this educator. 
    • Words used to describe Ms. Briggs Potter  include: caring, kind, diligent, well-informed, forward thinker, observant, problem solver, student advocate, generous and devoted to her students

    Josh Hall

    Josh Hall
    Bainbridge High School

    12th Grade Student

    • Josh is always willing to help other students when they are stuck or have an idea that they are not quite sure how to create. We have recruited him to take some pictures for the yearbook when we were in a pinch. 
    • Josh is a very humble and kind person.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, helpful and knowledgeable


    Bryn Lashmet
    Commodore Options School

    • Ms. Lashmet is very friendly and helpful. 
    • Ms. Lashmet knows each student well. She is always willing to help out at recess and greets students warmly in the halls.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Lashmet include: helpful, friendly, kind


    Margretta Murnane
    Commodore Options School

    1st/2nd Grade Teacher

    • Ms. Murnane constantly maintains empathy, develops curiosity and communicates compassionately.
    • Ms. Murnane works to develop empathy between students who may struggle to get along as well as develop intellectual curiosity in her daily routine. Often these two things do not co-exist easily, or at all--to do so requires an exquisite and constant balance of expectations, feelings, and experiences across multiple age groups and mindsets (not just children but their parents).
    • Her sense of whimsy and joy is present in all things.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Murnane include: compassionate, collaborative, and fun


    Sarah Dunstan
    Ordway Elementary School

    Office Manager

    • As Ordway’s Office Manager, Ms. Dunstan is often the voice you hear when you call the school, so in many ways, she is the school’s first impression. She consistently makes a good one. She is polite, knowledgeable, and capable. Families obviously feel safe and heard when they call because Ms. Dunstan is often the person they turn to when they need help.
    • Last summer, she offered to help decorate for the end-of-the-school-year parade.  By the time the rest of the volunteers got to campus, she was already done.  She has an incredible work ethic!   
    • When we were new last year Ms. Dunstan was one of the first people to reach out and welcome us to the school. She was friendly and helpful in getting us acclimated to a new school and new district. 
    • Words used to describe Ms. Dunstan include: positive, hardworking, compassionate, capable, friendly, helpful, responsive and kind


    Arleen Klasky
    Blakely Elementary School


    • Ms. Klasky has been a dedicated supporter of students in all academic areas, but especially in reading at Blakely. She has been a Blakely volunteer twice a week for the last 6-7 years. Many, many students at Blakely have been supported by her over the years.  She loves coming and they love working with her!
    • Ms. Klasky has been a faithful, hardworking, dedicated volunteer for years at Blakely.  She is amazing at working with students on their reading and they all LOVE to read with her.  She is a skilled and masterful volunteer. 
    • This year the entire 2nd-grade team at Blakely is using Ms. Klasky to help with much-needed reading time and math games to help some of our kids get to where they need to be with one-on-one support post-COVID 
    • Words used to describe Ms. Klasky include: kind, dedicated, caring, thoughtful, cheerful, hard-working, committed 


    Annalisa Sanchez
    Blakely Elementary School

    Special Education

    • Through every interaction, Ms. Sanchez ensures that all details are addressed and that students always feel safe, welcome and supported. 
    • Ms. Sanchez never stops caring about the kids and makes sure that not only do the students' voices matter, but she connects with the parents in a well-rounded holistic way that enables synchronicity between school and home.  
    • Ms. Sanchez is a jewel. As one of the ILC leaders at Blakely, Ms. Sanchez's approach to collaborating with classroom teachers about shared students is warm, creative, and always child-centered. She keeps student dignity at the center of her work every day by showing patience, grace, and flexibility in challenging situations. 
    • She is thoughtful and approachable in her family communications, an effective coach with the support staff, and an inspiring fellow teacher. Ms. Sanchez's heart and mind are totally committed to the wellbeing and progress of her students.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Sanchez include: caring, dedicated, involved, compassionate, empathetic, filled with kindness, intelligent, talented, patient, creative, steady, inspiring


    Susan Claesson
    Blakely Elementary

    3rd Grade Teacher

    • Ms. Claesson is truly an amazing teacher who deserves to be recognized for her unwavering love for children.
    • She truly rose to the occasion during the pandemic and continues back in the classroom. She is so encouraging with her students. She creates a magical place to learn and grow. She is such a gift to this district.  
    • Words used to describe Ms. Hilst include: kind, loving, patient, inspiring and incredibly hard-working.


    Kristy Hilst
    Woodward Middle School


    • Ms. Hilst takes on her role as a paraprofessional with care, kindness, and hard work. She is a rock star!
    • This year is like no other and Ms. Hilst handles all situations like a champ! Her calm and caring effect allows her students to know they are safe and cared for.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Hilst include: caring, superhuman, kind, smart, fun, professional

    Julee Longridge

    Julee Longridge
    Woodward Middle School

    Language Arts Teacher

    • Ms. Longridge's commitment to all students and staff is unwavering.  She is always a positive force reminding staff they have the joy of working with young people.  She uses her passion for working and "playing" with students to enhance our WMS community.  
    • She continually works to make her classroom lessons have meaning to students of all levels and talents.  She works tirelessly to differentiate lessons among different learners, ability levels, and talents.  She does a wonderful job of balancing traditional skills of grammar with new short stories and novels that fit BISD’s DIP plan.
    • She is undaunted with how she pushes us and her students to do better, try harder and have fun.  
    • Words used to describe Ms. Longridge include: enthusiastic,  thoughtful, curious, highly organized,  playful, intelligent, caring

    melissa mello
    Melissa Mello
    Wilkes Elementary

    Special Education

    • Ms. Mello looks out for the kids that may not be able to advocate for themselves. She spends the time navigating a complex support network for her students to ensure they are getting the chance to be their best selves. She truly cares about them, and it very much shows.
    • Ms. Mello’s first year as an ILC teacher was in 2020 with COVID disruptions to work through. Through this challenging environment, our daughter experienced her best year of academic and social growth she has ever had. This is a testament to Ms. Mello’s caring, effort, and effectiveness. 
    • Having Ms. Mello as our daughter’s case manager and ILC teacher has been truly amazing. It makes such a difference in our lives to have such a strong and caring person in this role.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Mello include: caring, smart, hard-working, positive, open-minded, objective, driven, and generally wonderful


    Mary Beth Kobs

    Physical Therapist

    • Ms. Kobs is an amazing person, therapist and a huge asset to this district,
    • Whether it be a therapeutic, emotional or supportive role, Ms. Kobs walks side-by-side with students. She is such an amazing, encouraging person. We feel so lucky to have her in our world. 
    • Words used to describe Ms. Kobs include: kind, encouraging, compassionate, insightful and so very supportive
  • Hip-hip-hooray! The following people received a BISD STRONG Award for Spring 2021. Please join us in congratulating these individuals for their strong minds, strong hearts and strong (sense of) community. 


    Sean Eaton

    Sean Eaton, Career Technology Education Director

    • Sean is a good leader who is compassionate and hard-working and makes us all better through his leadership. It’s impossible to do your job entirely on your own, and Sean’s leadership, reliability and inspiring attitude are what coworkers and students depend on for support, guidance, and inspiration. 
    • Sean is personally invested in our school and students and enjoys helping it to succeed. His unmatched sense of humor especially makes everything more enjoyable.  It's hard to feel grumpy about starting a new week when the colleague alongside you does everything with a smile on his face. 
    • Sean encourages growth and creativity and can spot the way out of a problem. Like a superhero, Sean is always willing to help out with a project when you need it most!
    • He spends countless hours problem solving, checking in with students, staff, and community members.  His leadership has motivated and inspired me to be the best possible teacher I can be.  He is able to achieve this by his incredible work ethic, knowledge, and rapport with all of the people he serves.  
    • Words used to describe you include: compassionate, hard-working, good sense of humor, friendly, jack-of-all-trades, dependable, motivating, compassionate, intelligent, problem solver, and kind

    Nicole Wescott

    Nicole Wescott, Counselor

    • Through course requests, college planning, scholarships, and general counseling, Mrs. Wescott is always there to help me along the way. She took the time to get to know me as an individual student even when she has hundreds of students to worry about. She has helped me through all of my last-minute planning and is always willing to meet with me. She takes the time to push me towards my goals and always encourages me. She has gone out of her way to connect with all her students, even in a year that had been very hectic- especially for counselors. Thank you for all that you do!
    • She always follows up with any questions or requests from my daughter and me. She thinks outside the box with student requests and always is doing it with a smile on her face and in her heart. 
    • She truly goes above and beyond and always has the best interest of the students in her mind. 
    • Words used to describe you include: dedicated, understanding, compassionate, upbeat, sincere, patient, caring, helpful and persistent.

    Sarah Bulllock

    Sarah Bullock, Athletic Secretary 

    • Sarah is the glue that holds BHS Athletics together.  She is responsive and communicative to coaches when they need her, and she is wholeheartedly committed to the success and health of our athletes.  She has the ability to make both staff and students feel seen, supported, and cared for.  As a colleague, she is the first to text another coach with congratulations on successes, and she is always available to answer questions or provide a supportive word of encouragement or a listening ear.
    • I can't think of anyone who represents BISD strong better than Sarah Bullock.  She has a heart of gold, constantly demonstrating her deep care and commitment to her community. She is the HEART of our athletics program, and I would love to see her commitment recognized and honored.
    • Sarah's competence and commitment to her job literally make it possible for me to continue to do my job.  Without her, I would not be able to commit to serving our student-athletes in the way that I do.  When I compliment her or express my gratitude, she is always humble, simply responding, "I'm just doing my job!"  
    • Sarah is always willing to help and give answers.  As athletic secretary, she has so much work to do: keeping sports organized, registering students, checking for physicals and concussion protocol. She never says she can't help you. she's willing to go above and beyond.
    • Words used to describe you include: committed, caring, competent, supportive, available, encouraging, helpful, cheerful

    Burton Shields

    Burton Shields, Math Teacher & Baseball Coach

    • Burton Shields has spent his adult life in the service of others.  He is an outstanding teacher and the best baseball coach my son ever had.
    • Burton stands out - especially - as a baseball coach who leads by example.  He is a person of integrity and behaves in a responsible and respectful way REGARDLESS of whether he agrees with the calls of umpires, the actions of other coaches or the score of the game.
    • He gives all players an opportunity and seems to have every player’s best interest in mind.  He is a perfect example of a coach representing a strong heart who is interested in building strong minds and a strong community for the kids he coaches and teaches.
    • I am thankful that my son had the opportunity to have Burton as a coach and a teacher.  I know when he looks back on his high school experience - Burton's example will be one he remembers and one that will influence and inspire him to be a person of integrity.
    • Words used to describe you include: integrity, person of strong character, role model, humble, kind and speaks with actions rather than words



    Barry Hoonan, 5/6 Teacher

    • Mr. Hoonan's clear love of teaching, outside-the-box thinking and willingness to listen, wonder and improve, set the bar for excellence in teaching.
    • Barry is a delightful person whom it is a pleasure to know. He treats his students with respect and care while inspiring them to learn and laughing a lot along the way. He has been working so hard to support all the students and their families during the pandemic and keep up morale.
    • Barry has shown so much kindness to his students over the last tough year.  He repeatedly tells them (and their parents) that is in awe of them and their strength, humor, and resilience.  To have a positive role model like this outside of the house has been invaluable for these students.  He is constantly laughing and showing delight in his students and the material at hand, even in the most challenging of circumstances.  
    • Mr. Hoonan takes the time to figure out, and celebrate each student's learning strengths.  He finds the kid who loves to read and asks him to lead a book club.  He finds the kid who is a natural leader and asks her to run class meetings.  He reads the room and understands when kids need to turn to each other to engage in questioning (and teaching each other) and then knows when they need to tune into his lessons.  And his lessons are engaging with cartoons and colorful lists and vibrant diagrams.
    • He reads out loud to his class and it is a magical thing to see a full class of 5th and 6th graders so completely engrossed that they groan and beg for more when it's time to wrap it up.   
    • Barry has the biggest heart of any teacher I've ever met. He has room for all kids and whatever solutions they need. He thinks so deeply about teaching and is proactive. His kids are lucky to be part of the community that he weaves and, at this age when they're growing and trying to find out where they are in the world, he makes a place for them, their opinions, and talents.
    • Words used to describe you; Full of wonder. Joyful. Good listener. Outside-the-box thinker. Advocate. Curious.  Always learning.  Always seeking to improve. Strength-finder. Super-human, genuine, incredible, phenomenal, creative, brilliant, passionate

    Meghan Berg

    Meghan Berg, Kindergarten Teacher

    • Ms. Berg has been a rockstar dealing with kindergarteners in a pandemic. Her kindness, patience, and humor have made this year incredible even with all the unusual hardships. Plus, my child is learning so much!! 
    • She’s so kind and encouraging with the kids and the curriculum and various learning opportunities implemented from apps, to worksheets, to videos, to in-classroom and book club, have been so impressive. She’s definitely helped to inspire a love of learning and community for my child. 
    • Ms. Berg has been so committed to teaching our young kids during the hardest of times and kept them engaged on Zoom and left messages on their work to encourage their growth. I really appreciate her dedication to the youth. 
    • Acknowledging and creating units/lessons around MLK Jr day, Intl Women’s Day, Earth Day, and even just time spent with their classmates on Zoom; my son really started to get a sense of the world and community around him this year.
    • She has remained strong in her purpose for the classroom. Enabled our kids to be confident learners, confident family members, and confident compassionate neighbors.
    • She’s just an amazing person. So thankful to have her as our teacher.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, funny, engaging, thoughtful, talented, patient, encouraging, thoughtful, organized, hard-working, caring, responsive

    Carrie Holloway

    Carrie Holloway, 2nd Grade

    • Mrs. Holloway has been the backbone of our success this year. Her ability to connect with the children has created an everlasting bond with this group of children. 
    • She challenges their minds while nurturing their social/emotional growth. 
    • When we haven’t been able to attend class, she has shown a great deal of flexibility and has done all that she can to ensure my son is able to complete his schoolwork. 
    • She has created an online and in-person routine that is easy for her students, and the parents, to understand and navigate. 
    • Mrs. Holloway has made this year a success on many levels. She had held the students accountable while understanding the struggles of this year.
    • Words used to describe you include: resourceful, kind, perseverant

    Bill Covert

    Bill Covert, 4th Grade 

    • Bill Covert is such an outstanding teacher!  Bill has done an outstanding job, both on Zoom earlier this year and now in the classroom by keeping his students engaged, thriving and developing a love of learning.
    • He is friendly, welcoming, engaging, funny, organized and cares for all of his students.  
    • Bill did not miss a beat when school was on Zoom during the first half of the year. He kept his students engaged and having fun while learning asynchronously.  Bill always shows up each day with a positive attitude, is very organized, cares deeply for his students and loves to teach.  
    • He brings so much joy to the classroom. Bill meets his students where they are and is ready to provide challenging assignments if needed or valuable feedback on ways to improve their work.  Bill is an integral part of the wonderful Wilkes Community!  
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, organized, funny, compassionate, caring, kind-hearted, dedicated, patient, positive


    Sandra Dreiling, Kindergarten

    • Ms. Dreiling knows each of her students extremely well- even after a year of only teaching them on zoom! She tailors her lessons to encourage connection and empathy, she holds high expectations for her students and provides many opportunities for them to be successful and show what they know and she engages them minute-by-minute with zany ideas, dances, choral responses, and a caring that emerges from the zoom screen right through to each of her students.
    • She organizes social Zooms for her kindergarteners to connect and encourage empathy.  
    • Ms. Dreiling is one of the most dedicated, creative, and talented teachers I have ever had the pleasure to know and observe. From building a rocket ship in her home to popping out of (and teaching from) her recycling bin on Earth Day, she has consistently gone above and beyond on a daily basis to keep her online kindergarten class engaging. Despite this strange year having kindergarten on zoom Ms. Dreiling's students are learning, growing, and flourishing! Her daily lessons incorporate frequent movement, student interaction, and (of course!) silly hats and costumes. It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of Ms. Dreiling's classes even for short periods. Her joy and her love for children and learning are palpable and contagious!
    • Words used to describe you include: genuinely caring, super creative, resourceful, enthusiastic, empathetic, energetic, kind, patient, warm, Creative, whimsical, positive, talented, happy, caring

    Rebecca Dawson

    Rebecca Dawson, Speech and Language Pathologist

    • Rebecca is a tireless advocate for students. She is warm, affectionate, and thoughtful. She is an irreplaceable coworker.
    • The preschoolers and elementary students that she works with love her. She goes above and beyond in her job as a speech therapist to support children in all areas of education. 
    • Parents and families have told me many times how comfortable and informed they feel when they communicate with her. 
    • Rebecca has worked for many years at BISD from the preschool to the adult living level and has been an incredibly valued member of every team she has supported.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, thoughtful, smart, team leader, advocate


    Gina Stecher, Volunteer

    • Gina has given so much of her unpaid time to planning free, educational, virtual activities like assemblies, "field trips," and coordinated events with Bainbridge businesses for the Ordway students during this crazy year.
    • Even though their family was new to the Island, Gina joined our PTO last year as our Enrichment Coordinator and basically began to systematically meet every single person in a 20-mile radius that could teach, mentor, and inspire the children in our community.  Not even a global pandemic could slow her down!  When in-person opportunities became impossible, Gina looked for contact-free solutions.  She is unstoppable and irresistibly friendly.  
    • Gina organized a Martin Luther King Walk that families could do together, she sought opportunities at Islandwood where families could safely get outside, she connected with a local author and planned a Mason jar beehive lesson, and, most recently, she danced her heart out on Madison Avenue in a stifling otter costume to help the PTO raise much-needed funds.  
    • Her strong heart had her calling all over our community to find virtual enrichment programs at no cost for the Ordway community. She has done so much to try and bring a bit of the larger Bainbridge community to Ordway to share what they can to help the next generation learn. 
    • Words used to describe you include: dedicated, tenacious, generous, big ole Texas personality, inspirational, positive, innovative, hardworking, resourceful, energetic, dependable, and does all of this with a full giving heart and soul

    Mary Howes

    • Mary has done an amazing job in her first year+ as Transportation Supervisor, especially coming into the position just prior to the Covid Pandemic.
    • Mary cares about her staff. She tells us so AND she shows us. She’s a straight shooter and tries to support us, but is honest about challenges and realistic about solutions. If she makes a mistake, she owns it and apologizes. If we make mistakes, she shows compassion and fairness. She’s a thoughtful communicator and is always quick with a smile. She’s a fantastic leader!
    • Mary came into her new position just prior to the pandemic hitting. She was still learning the ropes when the ropes all changed dramatically. As a fairly new bus driver, I was one of the few that was kept on to provide meal deliveries to students. I witnessed the obstacles and stress she was dealing with on a daily basis. Every day was something different as information and guidance changed. Mary worked hard to keep us as informed as possible. She worked to make sure we were provided appropriate safety gear and protection. Each morning she held staff meetings with the half dozen of us to provide encouragement and support
    • Sometimes it is just the little things: Positive poems on the message board each morning; words of encouragement and support there as well.
    • She understands what the bus drivers are going through and calls specials to help us.
    • What a doozy of a first-year! If anyone can survive that crucible, they’re going to lead us well into a new and BETTER future. I feel lucky to have Mary steering this ship!
    • Words used to describe you include: even-tempered, patient, positive attitude, humorous, sensitive (in a positive way), honest, real, encouraging, caring


    Theo Roesch, 7th Grade

    • Theo has a passion for learning. and asks excellent questions. He researches, learns and shares information with the class.
    • He is always respectful and polite to staff and his peers.
    • Inquisitive and compassionate. He works to understand world history, the environment, and the impacts that affect people today. He works to improve his understanding and make changes for the better.
    • Theo understands the history behind global conflicts.  I appreciate the way he has been learning about the struggles of various groups of Americans this year, which was revealed to me again in his report about Brown vs. Board of Education.  I appreciate that he reads so much that he can quote famous Americans in different contexts.  When looking at climate change, I was impressed to see a 7th grader able to understand geographic bias with regards to impact on communities.
    • Words used to describe you include: respectful, responsible, mature thinker


  • More than 75 people were nominated for BISD STRONG Awards during this cycle. BISD STRONG Awards are a way to recognize and celebrate the many individuals who make BISD STRONG with their strong minds, strong hearts and a strong sense of community. 

    And the winners are...

    Jen L

    Jennifer Ledbetter, 4th Grade Teacher

    • Jen’s ability to captivate a classroom with her incredible nurturing spirit is unprecedented.
    • Blakely and the BISD community are so lucky to have her for all she does
    • I am a parent who has had two daughters in Mrs. Ledbetter's 4th-grade class. My two daughters are completely different kids - both in personality and in learning style - and yet to both of them, she is their favorite teacher.  
    • Ms. Ledbetter is truly an amazing leader and really inspired the kids to keep learning online.  She was cheerful when students were not, helpful and kind and continued to have expectations for them.  As a result, my daughter became a more independent learner.    
    • Jen will spend countless hours developing instruction to connect with her students.  She is always seeking new and creative tasks that are engaging for her 4th graders. When schools closes last year, the very next week she had a video she filmed to share with her students called "Work for Me" that they absolutely loved.
    •  Jen is at the heart of our staff culture, always coming up with creative ways to connect with fun, games, and competition.
    • Jen is one of the most hard-working and caring teachers that I have ever met.  Not only does she rock teaching in-person, she delivers that and more in Continuous Learning.
    • Words used to describe Jen: professional, strong, funny smart, creative, kind, inclusive, engaging, empathetic

    dave wiacek

    Dave Wiacek, Custodian

    •  He always was nice to me and my friends while we played ping pong.  He always was rooting one of us on if he wasn't busy cleaning up. My friends and I really appreciated having him there. We couldn't have asked for a better custodian
    • He would cheer us on which made us feel good. He also cleaned up messes that students made. I really think this person should be recognized for how amazing he is.
    • Words used to describe Dave:  kind, hardworking, fun, and cool.

    Susan Irish

    Susan Irish, Counselor

    • She gets this age group. She worked hard to figure out our child’s scheduling issues before school started and patiently talked us through the options. I have since called her twice when we were facing other challenges with remote schooling and was impressed by how she quickly understood and helped by providing sage advice.
    • Her communication indicated she understood our child and the issues we were having. She shared her own stories and insight and reassured me that we were on the right path. Parenting can be tricky for this age group and at this time. We feel grateful for this kind of support.
    • Words used to describe Susan:  thoughtful, straightforward, understanding, supportive.

    Viviana Van Ness, Paraeducator

    • Viviana has done a wonderful job returning to work in the building with students to help them be successful by supporting them in person.  Her enthusiasm and support help to keep kids organized. 
    • Viviana is helping students that teachers have been unable to reach online.
    • Words used to describe Viviana: kind, smart, helpful, brave, bilingual

    Sam Hodus

    Sam Hodus, 5th grader

    • Sam is a very hard worker and is supportive to ALL of his classmates and teachers!
    • Sam shows his strong heart through support and encouragement.  He always has a kind word to say to each student that shares during class.  He shows empathy and understanding when listening to others speak.  Sam shows a strong mind with his dedication to his school work. He is a very hard worker and can always be relied on to contribute with humor, wit, and wisdom to any class discussion.  Sam is a strong presence in the Sakai community.  He is willing to give a helping hand.  He offers to assist teachers and fellow students.  
    • Words used to describe Sam: respectful, reliable, reasonable, and responsible (Sakai 4 R's).  He is also smart, funny, supportive, helpful, and curious!

    Ailene Isaf, Paraeducatorar

    • Ailene has poured her heart into Sakai.  For so many years, Ailene has been the soul of our school.  She provides structure to students who don’t have it at home.  She is the adult that will always listen and has a smile to share.  For staff, Ailene is the person that you go to when you are having a hard day or worse having a hard year or family struggles.  She is reassuring, kind, and never judges.
    • She runs our Sakai Social Network.  She collects money for our staff to support each other in times of need.  She sends emails to notify and coordinate our support. She then sends cards, flowers, gift cards, etc on behalf of our staff.  She keeps our hearts whole and our community strong at Sakai.
    • Ailene is a loving compassionate person that always puts students and staff first.


    Lydia Scheiber, Technology Support Specialist

    • Lydia has a calm and cheerful attitude regarding ANY work that needs to be done.
    • Recently we went through a migration from Windows 7, which is no longer supported by Microsoft, to Windows 10.  Lydia handled most of this project willingly going wherever needed to work one-on-one with Administrators and staff to upgrade their computers.  She would stay while they logged on to Windows 10 to make sure everything was correct.  While there she did extra duties like checking everyone's bookmarks to make sure they were still valid and cleaned them up.  Of course, she answered many other questions while they had her there about using drives, documents, and many others.  
    • Lydia also handles most of the district's landlines and cell phones when changes need to be made to names, numbers, the important 911 location identity system, or securing new cell phones.  She does a great job and is very knowledgeable in this area.
    • Lydia spends a lot of time with our student interns.  She is patient and professional and always has a plan ready for them when they arrive.
    • Words used to describe Lydia: Technology savvy in both hardware and software. Thinks and processes before she speaks. Willingly goes to any location to "see for herself" and solve problems; an excellent troubleshooter. Great telephone voice and skills. Calm and methodical.

    Kiyo Toma

    Kiyo Toma, Director of Technology

    • Kiyo’s leadership of all staff involved in the process of providing technology for staff and students has been nothing short of amazing
    • To step into this role and be faced with this situation is mind-blowing,  but the way he has handled it has been incredible. Indescribable 
    • Strong Heart=Through our twice-weekly tech staff Zoom meetings Kiyo has checked in with each of us to see how we are doing and starts each meeting with Thank Yous and Success.
    • Strong Mind=This has been shown by Kiyo being the leader in hitting the ground running with implementing distance learning for our district from admin, educator, students, and parents. From adopting new platforms, training upon training, communicating clearly and frequently, and keeping all these moving parts organized Kiyo has demonstrated a Strong Mind indeed.
    • Strong Community=During this current crisis Kiyo has been in communication with all levels and all facets of our community.  His amazing efforts have helped ensure our community of learners can continue to be inquisitive learners in this time of need.  By making sure our learners have the proper tech equipment and support for that equipment and its educational programs, Kiyo has positively impacted all corners of our community.
    • Words used to describe Kiyo: committed, unflappable, driven to the success of staff and students with technology, kind, intelligent, thoughtful, and humble.

    Heidi L

    Heidi Langendorff, Reading Club Teacher

    • Heidi is always willing to help and support her students.  
    • Heidi shares her knowledge of the Science of Reading with co-workers and families.  She helps parents understand how to support their children at home.   
    • Heidi finds books that her students are excited to read.  She gives them time to read them with her and promotes reading for fun.  
    • She has worked with students in the summer who needed extra help.   She has created one-on-one time for kids who have specific needs. 
    • A few years ago Heidi did a Yoga class for teachers.  Teachers attended for free. Many teachers looked forward to this class. It seemed to bring staff closer together.   
    • Her ability to build confidence, perseverance and problem-solving skills in her students helps them feel and be successful at school.  She is a dedicated teacher who is passionate about helping every individual she knows learn to love and enjoy books!
    • Heidi goes above and beyond to provide extra support and care to struggling readers. The work she has put in this fall has been even more exceptional than in years past. Seeing how my child's reading has blossomed over the past few months, despite being in the midst of a pandemic, is a credit to the dedication Heidi has for her students. 
    • Heidi represents a BISD strong heart by the care and dedication she shows to her reading club students. Her work is building my son's confidence, not just in his reading, but overall. Heidi's patience and care have fostered a growth mindset in my son, allowing him to believe in himself.
    • Words used to describe Heidi: caring, knowledgeable, patient, strong, supportive, compassionate, dedicated, calm, funny, encouraging

    Leslie Decina

    Leslie Decina, 2nd Grade Teacher

    • I am in awe of how Mrs. Decina facilitates her 2nd-grade classes over Zoom. She somehow makes time for every child to engage and contribute, while still covering an incredible amount of material. The tone of her Zooms is always upbeat and warm.
    • Mrs. Decina has managed to create a wonderful classroom community, which I think is amazing in this remote learning environment. My son is loving 2nd grade and has learned so much already. 
    • Words used to describe Leslie: dedicated, patient, kind, enthusiastic, genuine, understanding

    Anna Fehrenbacher

    Anna Fehrenbacher, 4th Grade Teacher

    • She's been a great teacher through and through. She also has a ton of experience and many of her past students (including me) absolutely loved their year with her.
    • It's quite obvious to me how Mrs. Fehrenbacher helps a strong community, by trying her best to give her fourth-graders personalized learning experiences. When I was in Mrs. Fehrenbacher's class, she always did her best to challenge me by showing me a bunch of hard-level puzzles. With the kids who were behind the rest of the class, she showed them cool tricks to learn the material easier.
    • Words used to describe Anna: caring, kind, hardworking, very smart

    Susan Gace

    Susan Gace, 1st Grade Teacher

    • Mrs. Gace is calm and unflappable, (which seems impossible to me when you’re in charge of 20+ six-year-olds). She cares so much about her students and works so hard to help them reach their full potential and feel confident in the classroom. It’s clear that she takes time to get to know her students well, and as parents, we’ve really appreciated how often she communicates with us
    • Mrs. Gace’s strength is her patience, and she models kindness in the way she manages her classroom and communicates with her students. She fosters a strong community in her class, by promoting pro-social behavior between her students, and always champions her students’ needs and fosters their strengths. She is a fantastic teacher and BISD is so lucky to have her!
    • Words used to describe Susan: kind, compassionate, pro-active, patient, warm, competent, communicative

    Rebecca K

    Rebecca Keach, 2nd Grade Teacher

    • Ms. Keach's is committed to making sure every child is engaged in their learning
    • The online system has been tough for my Wilkes student because he responds best when he has close relationships with his teachers, something that does not happen automatically in an online environment with a teacher he's never met in person. Ms. Keach has been working with our family to find ways to help my son feel more connected to her, and his classmates, including setting up one-on-one Zoom calls and helping him find work that interests him. 
    • Words used to describe Rebecca: Adaptive, Responsive, Kind

    Siri Miller

    Siri Miller, Art Teacher

    • Siri Miller is a very good example of BISD STRONG, and she always makes sure every student feels included and happy.
    • Siri always makes art easy and fun, even for those who think they can't draw. She has adapted to teaching via distance learning very well and is always kind and patient. She will always help you if you are having trouble, and she makes sure that her class is enjoyable for everyone
    • Words used to describe Siri: Patient, funny, caring, thoughtful

    Elena C

    Elena Conklin, 12th grader

    • She is endlessly optimistic and always striving to make everyone feel included and appreciated. Even during the rough patch of online school, she still got everything done on top of applying to colleges and being a co-captain of the swim team. Her dedication to the community and everyone she meets is undeniable.
    • She applies herself rigorously, even when she could probably get by with a lot less effort. She is a 4-year member of Circle of Friends, and continued to do it over zoom during online learning. She also TA’s for a freshman Spanish class, and I have seen the compassion and personal connection she forms with the 9th graders by joking around and trying to engage every single person, even though they all had their cameras off.
    • She is also a co-captain of the swim team, which is an elected position and the fact that she is beloved by her teammates is clearly represented. She is constantly trying to be the best self she can be, and to bring that out in those around her.
    • She absolutely has a Strong Heart and believes in Strong Community with all the work that she puts in because of the joy it brings others. I promise you, any teacher, coach, or friend that you talk to will immediately agree that she is literally the perfect person for this award.
    • Words used to describe Elena: optimistic, Hard-working. Intelligent, Compassionate, Thoughtful, Hilarious, Open-minded, Outgoing, Inclusive, Kind, Brave

    Lisa Hale

    Lisa Hale, Math Teacher

    • Every student who mentions her absolutely adores her! She takes care of every one of her students with amazing enthusiasm and positivity. She knows her subject and makes sure her students do too.
    • She reaches out to make sure her students are doing ok- if they mess up on a quiz or test. She makes sure to bring them where they need to be. She never wants any student to feel anxious or hopeless. She has the biggest heart and uses it to encourage and uplift her students. She will help them anytime, anywhere.
    • She truly believes if her students aren’t doing well and understanding their math, then it is her responsibility to fix it. She cares about her kids’ learning!
    • Words used to describe Lisa: upbeat, positive, enthusiastic, caring, funny, helpful

    Joe Rice

    Joe Rice, Social Studies Teacher

    • I was lucky enough to have Mr. Rice as my history teacher my sophomore year. Going into his class I wasn’t that into history, and by the end of the year it was my favorite subject. 
    • The way he taught changed both my view on the past but also on the present. He was a dedicated and understanding teacher who I’m really grateful to have had. He made the transition into online learning as smooth as possible and despite the huge struggle, he still made the class engaging and interesting. He wasn’t scared to talk to us about the big stuff, and included many lectures and discussions, giving us a safe place to talk about what was happening in the world. The fact that I still enjoyed his class through online learning just shows how good of a teacher he is. 
    • He had a relationship with all the students in my class and was supportive. He was a rock and a class to look forward to when we transitioned to online learning and his class was always enjoyable. 
    • Words used to describe Joe: dependable, kind, smart, supportive 

    Alex McCulloch, 11th grader

    • He is an awesome example of continuing on with life even when the world seems to be falling apart.
    • Alex is one of our amazing teenagers on the island. During quarantine, he has stayed in touch with his friends online, maintained a job, advanced his space photography skills which are amazing, and helped others. For example, he’s helped people fix their cars and build computers. Alex never throws a pity party, instead, he focuses on living a great life
    • Alex has brought a lot of smiles to our family during quarantine.
    • Words used to describe Alex: energetic, caring, focused, driven
  • Traditionally, BISD STRONG Awards are handed out in ceremonies where the superintendent surprises students and staff in their classrooms or offices. However, due to COVID-19, this round of awards required a complicated coordination of schedules to track down and surprise the individuals. We were able to award 10/12 awards in person. One student recipient no longer lives locally (we will mail her the award) and one staff recipient we haven't yet tracked down, but never fear! We will. 

    Julia Keys

    Julia Keys, BHS Senior:

    • Julia has been a highlight to my year and has been very nice and kind to me and a great friend.
    • She has always been there for me and makes it a point to talk to me when I’m having a rough or hard time with things.
    • Julia is super nice and caring to me. She supports me and tries to help me. She makes it a point to talk to me and ask how I’m doing. 
    • Getting to know her has changed my high school career. She has also been a lot of fun to hang out with.
    • Words used to describe Julia: kind, loving, sweet, caring, passionate, thoughtful, amazing, awesome, respectful, confident, devoted, easy-going, enthusiastic, funny, gentle, helpful, great friend


    Elizabeth Ande, BHS Art Teacher:

    • Ms. Ande is a remarkable teacher who goes above and beyond to connect with her students and the community at large. Her dedication to each individual student is a model for all. Literally my child is more at peace, more relaxed and much happier the semesters he has her.
    • She creates community projects, such as the valentines hearts hanging on campus, with her Ceramics club. The untold extra hours she puts in to make these types of positive projects for students is amazing. I have yet to ever see her without a smile on her face and radiating positive energy. She checks in with both of my students to see how they are. She offers tea and coffee before school to any student- this gives a safe space for check in and creating community.
    • Ms. Ande has truly made the most positive impact on my life through all my high school days. I have been in her class every semester during high school, and she has been extra nice to me every day I see her. 
    • Ms. Ande represents strong hearts, because she’s always been super supportive to me and loving when I talk to her. She always makes time to talk with me before class starts about her weekend and how we are doing. 
    • Ms. Ande is very strong minded, because she likes talking to her students and getting to know them, and she is super caring and sweet. 
    • Ms. Ande is very strong in the community, because she loves making everyone feel comfortable and she wants everyone to have a great time in her class and to feel like they got something out of it. I always love being in her class.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Ande: dynamic, energetic, compassionate, caring, creative, loving, sweet, kind, respectful, encouraging, gentle, helpful, supportive


    Michelle Smith, Wilkes 4th Grade Teacher:

    • Ms. Smith was a great teacher to her 2018-2019 class and could focus on the whole class at the same time as focusing on one person.
    • She is an amazing person and a role model for kindness.
    • She was my teacher last year and had my whole class spellbound.
    • She is the best teacher ever!
    • She pays attention to every student's needs and lets us know she cares about our success. She even writes us letters.
    • Keeps all her students motivated to do their work and cares about each of us as individuals.
    • Even people who were not in her math class came to her for help.
    • She cares about everybody and takes time out of her day to respect students' needs.
    • She is so much more than we can write on this survey!
    • Words used to describe Ms. Smith: caring, appreciative, understanding, gracious, funny, kind, selfless, fun-loving, silly, kind, helpful, compassionate, softhearted, tolerant, patient, gentle, brave, trustworthy


    Serena Zyskowski, Odyssey 3/4 Teacher:

    • She is kind, understanding and  always tries to make you feel good even if you did something wrong. She is helpful. When you're having a bad day you can just go talk to her and she'll help you feel better.
    • I believe she has  a strong mind and heart because she always rewrites  our math tests to make them more interesting for us and she will always help me with my problems.
    • She will always be somewhere in our hearts.
    • Words used to describe Serena: warmhearted, strong mind, amazing, comforting, funny, understanding, sweet


    Chloe Snow, 5th Grader at Sakai:

    • I am nominating this student because she never excludes anyone, she always is welcoming new students, helping in class, and always being a nice and caring person.
    • Chloe deserves the BISD STRONG award because she never excludes anyone, she is never rude, gets straight to work, she is always in a wonderful mood when she walks in the classroom, and is very free spirited. 
    • Words used to describe Chloe: creative, friendly, open-minded, goofy, funny, warm-hearted


    Jonna Mathis, Nurse at Sakai

    • I am going through an unknown sickness that prevents me from learning without side effects. I spend a large amount of time in the nurse's office. Mrs. Mathis has been going out of her way to talk to my mom in person or on the phone, has recommended many resources and options, and has even attended a meeting with my parents to help me learn in the best possible way. Every time I come to her office she offers me all the resources she has to help me.
    • Mrs. Mathis has a strong heart. Every time a student comes to the nurses office, she offers all her services and asks what they think will make them better. I have seen this happen to every single student who comes to her office. She also will go out of her way to buy peppermints and tea (the favorite flavors and brands of her students) after she has finished working. Unlike an ordinary school school nurse, she will try all the options even if that means going out of her way to do it. 
    • Words used to describe Joanna: caring, sympathetic, responsible, doesn't give up, dedicated to her job, kind, will go out of her way to help a student

    Max Simon

    Max Simon, 7th Grader at Odyssey

    • Max is a gem. 
    • Max is a leader in our class.  He always works hard and is helpful, kind and inclusive, but recently he has taken a leadership role in a  service project. Our class is doing a book drive for Takuu Atoll in Papua New Guinea as they lost their library due to king tides and cyclones.  Max has been the communication liaison and he has reached out to local and national organizations to help with our book drive.  He has solicited help from the BI library, T and C, and he has even written to the Embassy in PNG!  Everytime he sends an email out to someone, he includes me and I am so impressed with his confidence and communication skills.  I feel very proud of how he is representing our school.
    • He makes our Odyssey community a stronger community, and he makes his service team a stronger community and hopefully he (and his team) are making Takuu Atoll a stronger community.  
    • Words used to describe Max: kind, caring, open and honest, thoughtful, great communicator and great with tech


    Helene Lulelo, 8th Grader at Woodward

    • Helene's work ethic is fantastic!  She really wants to be here learning.
    • Helene left Congo & Angola with her family 18 months ago with the desire of immigrating to the U.S. so they could stay together and be safe. They weren't accepted because her parents were from different countries that hate each other. They traveled to Cuba, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Mexico (and more I think). It was dangerous. They had a rough journey in a boat.  All their documents were stolen. At one point they walked for 12 days straight, with the mother carrying the youngest sibling, age 3, on her back.  Helene has a great attitude, and she is fluent in several languages!
    • Words used to describe Helene: Resilient, honest, hard-working, thoughtful, intelligent,  adaptable, friendly


    Wendy Kozina, WMS Math Teacher

    • She has incredible positive energy to inspire students. She also listens well and acknowledges kids.
    • I was initially impressed with her at open house (‘made me want to take Middle school math again, which says a lot) and then I’ve heard from my son that he really likes math this year. And again at conferences when, even though she wasn’t my child’s advisory teacher, she came into the classroom where we were and asked us about how things were going. She sat and thoughtfully listened, as well, to some of the “back story” behind his health and well-being. I was really impressed and happy that he has such a supportive teacher.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Kozina: energetic, thoughtful, kind, active listener


    Jennifer Brooks, WMS Learning Strategies Teacher

    • Ms. Brooks is warm and welcoming and committed to communicating with her students and their parents. She’s encouraging and she builds bridges when students think they’re at a dead end. 
    • Ms. Brooks can anticipate when a student is getting off track and reaches out to parents in a welcoming manner to arrive at a path forward. 
    • She advocated for my son and was patient despite his challenges. She made the middle school years less scary. 
    • Words used to describe Ms. Brooks: Cheery, welcoming, dedicated, attentive. 

    Isra Moussaoui, 11th Grader at BHS

    • Exemplary Helpline House Volunteer
    • Isra has used her STRONG HEART to get involved at Helpline House.  Helpline House runs on volunteers.  We would not be able to provide the services we do without the help of volunteers like Isra.
    • Isra shows up at Helpline House ready to work.  She is a very self assured person and a great addition to our volunteer staff.
    • Words used to describe Isra: Self motivated, hard working, responsible, self confident
  • What a joy-filled day! BISD STRONG Awards were handed out and recipients were surprised in their classrooms and departments. This is always a special day, as it's great fun to celebrate those in our district who are BISD STRONG.


    Claire Jackson

    NAME: Claire Jackson (pictured on the right)

    GRADE: 10th at BHS


    • Claire is really great to be around
    • I have fun being her friend
    • I  like to cheer with her

    Grayson Casteel

    NAME: Grayson Casteel

    GRADE: 4th at Odyssey


    • Grayson’s depth of character is exceptional.  
    • He regularly goes out of his way to make sure everyone feels included and sees and celebrates everyone's uniqueness in a positive light.
    • Grayson is truly a special person who most certainly represents BISD's strong heart and strong mind philosophy while helping to nurture a community where everyone feels safe and cared for.
    • Grayson gets along with everyone, is always positive, has a great sense of humor, and works hard and performs well academically.
    • Words used to describe you: kind, insightful, generous, selfless

    Rob Combs

    NAME: Rob Combs

    DEPARTMENT: Transportation


    • Rob is such an asset to BISD. He enjoys his job and treats the students lovely. He spends extra time to get to know each student on the bus and gives them special super hero qualities as they leave the bus. 
    • In addition to driving for his specific route, he also drives for sport functions and for Bainbridge Island Senior Center. He is known for his shortbread cookies at the Senior Center. He also reads for the kindergarten classes. Everyone I know in the community who knows him appreciates him and values him. 
    • My daughter was in kindergarten last year. Rob was one of the adults who made an impact in her first year and continues as she rides the bus. He has been so warm to my other daughter — who will be starting kindergarten next year—  it will be an easy transition for her. Rob has made an impact for these kindergartens. I have also talked to some high school students who love him to drive them to their events because he takes the time to make sure their needs are met. 
    • Words used to describe you: kind, creative, warm


    NAME: Russell Milbrot

    DEPARTMENT: Grounds


    • Russell is a hard worker, who cares deeply about the impact of his work. He manages many acres across multiple campuses, largely alone. He is professional in his approach, an Iron Man who hardly takes sick leave or vacation. For all that he does, Russell deserves the utmost respect and recognition for his daily efforts. The campuses wouldn't look as good without his tremendous effort.
    • Through the worst of weather and within the tightest time restraints, Russell always strives to keep the BISD grounds looking great. In the depths of winter, Russ rides a Polaris Ranger, without doors, without heating, minimal comfort across the central campuses. 
    • During this past summer, Russell was able to complete his own work as well as cover the basis for his fellow teammates who were working with the custodial team to move clear out two buildings. The BISD grounds were maintained at acceptable levels despite missing half of the Grounds department to construction projects.  
    • On a day to day basis, Russell continues to be as reliable as an employee can be.  Always early, and ready to approach his duties with a high level of energy and attention to detail.  
    • Russell continually provides a great deal of honesty and sincerity to both his co-workers and supervisors alike. His quiet and respectful nature is always appreciated by the staff he works with directly.  
    • He is incredibly kind-hearted. 
    • Words used to describe you: independent, real, hard-working, reliable, respectful, calm, diligent, trusting

    Vanessa Johson

    NAME: Vanessa Johnson

    SCHOOL: El Velero 2nd & 3rd Grades


    • Vanessa continuously goes above and beyond 
    • Her energy, compassion and charisma are truly unprecedented 
    • Her heart is so big -I’m not sure how she has enough love like she does for each child. 
    • She is always happy, positive and an absolute joy. Her ability to make her classroom her family is overwhelming, and we are blessed to have her.
    • Everything she does represents strength. Vanessa is able to make children feel confident without feeling entitled. She educates the students in a way that makes them excited about what they are learning and does so while garnering tremendous respect. 
    • Vanessa was born an educator and a leader. We are so lucky to have her at Ordway.
    • Vanessa wrote each one of her students a handwritten letter over the summer
    • Words used to describe you: caring, compassionate, empathetic, energetic, enthusiastic, fun, genuine, inspiring, kind, organized, positive, sharp, strong, warm

    Katie Zonoff

    NAME: Katie Zonoff

    SCHOOL: Bainbridge High School


    • Katie is always positive, encouraging and motivating for my daughter. Katie has been incredibly generous with her time, offering many, many hours after school to support not only my daughter, but also many other students.  
    • I can see from the rapport she has with all the students that she knows how to build positive, trusting relationships that give students the confidence they need to succeed.  What more could a parent ask for?!!
    • Katie cares about her students and it shows.  She possesses a strong heart and mind and passes that along to build the same in her students.
    • She is a phenomenal Social Studies Teacher, and her students rave about how Katie is interesting and how enlightening her courses are.  
    • Katie can break through to even the most unreachable student, and becomes a trusted adviser to many.  Katie gives kids confidence, and in turn they find the motivation to try harder and do better. 
    • Words used to describe you: accepting, caring, calm, dedicated, empathetic, encouraging, generous, good sense of humor, motivating, inspirational, intuitive, kind, patient, positive, and smart

    Michael Fricke

    NAME: Michael Fricke

    SCHOOL: Sakai


    • Michael consistently strives to identify areas in which the district can improve. 
    • Michael continually makes an effort to connect with students by making a point to memorize their names and small details about their lives they choose to share with him. 
    • Michael takes a great deal of pride in his work, from insuring that his routine is always complete, to making sure that he maintains a high level of communication with his supervisor and colleagues.  
    • Michael is one of the best and brightest.  Over the last five years Michael has taken his professionalism and communication skills to the absolute highest end of the spectrum. He is willing to make sacrifices on behalf of the district as well as going the extra mile. 
    • His pleasant attitude coupled with his work ethic, make him the definition of BISD Strong!  
    • Words used to describe you: dedicated, diligent, determined, reliable, forward-thinking, trustworthy, honest, focused


    NAME: Bailey Kleiven

    GRADE: 5th at Sakai


    • Bailey is a part of the Sakai Library's student assistant program. In her short time helping out in the library, she has displayed many BISD strong qualities. She helps out in the library at a very busy time of day and yet maintains great poise with a calm and cheerful disposition. 
    • Bailey is great at helping other students find books, shelving books in our Humor Fiction section and speaking up and volunteering to do other tasks as needed- all with an upbeat attitude of service.  
    • Bailey works hard every day and puts her best effort in to help her teachers and the librarian.
    • She brightens up other people's days.  
    • Words used to describe you: kind, thoughtful, encouraging, reader, considerate, determined, dependable, cheerful, honest and helpful


    NAME: Stella Targett

    GRADE: 4th at Wilkes


    • Stella is an exemplary model of a responsible student as well as a caring friend to others 
    • Stella gives of her time and energy as a member of our Wilkes Leadership Council , as a classmate she is an empathetic friend to her peers, reaching out to offer whatever they might need - comfort,  assistance or just listening  
    • I have been very impressed with Stella's ability to put her best foot forward each day
    • Words used to describe you: Caring, conscientious, flexible, thoughtful, persistent, gentle


    NAME: Micah Welsh

    GRADE: 4th at Wilkes


    • Micah is kind and always willing to lend a hand to others, offer support or an encouraging word. Micah participates in the 4th grade leadership team, but he has always been a leader as demonstrated by his welcoming attitude toward anyone entering the room or joining a new group, taking it upon himself to lead others to learn a routine, make a transition or follow a rule. 
    • Micah is a good and faithful friend to his buddies, but never excludes anyone who might want to join the play. 
    • Micah is respectful and polite with adults and children alike.
    • Micah is an amazing person and student. He is deeply committed to learning and is always fully present in his work, trying his hardest, and working to learn and improve. He is a humble guy, consistently happy and very supportive of other learners in the community. 
    • He is tons of fun. His happy demeanor and even-handed character contribute a great deal to the school lives of both students and teachers.  
    • Words used to describe you: persistent, focused, happy, kind, supportive, fair, hardworking

    Lee Muir

    NAME: Lee Muir

    POSITION: Volunteer

    SCHOOL: Woodward (and across BISD)


    • Lee has volunteered at BISD for many years, serving across multiple schools and on district committees.  She is unfailing in her thoughtful advocacy for our district, and is deeply generous with her time and experience. 
    • Lee is an unbelievably dedicated volunteer who has held multiple, large roles with PTOs. She is phenomenally organized, dedicated, and consistent in her volunteering, and is an absolutely lovely person to work with.
    • Lee always looks for opportunities to build connections.  She quietly and consistently steps up to help others. She finds ways to recognize and thank others for their work, and creates a climate of kindness and calm.
    • Lee shows an enormous level of dedication of supporting the PTO, the school and our students through all her volunteer work. I am guessing that Fallapalooza alone was dozens of hours of work, and she helped make it our most successful fundraiser ever.
    • Words used to describe you: kind, patient, thoughtful, dedicated, compassionate, caring, professional, committed, organized
  • The final round of BISD STRONG Awards for the 2019-20 school year were handed out. Congratulations to all the winners! Your strong minds, strong hearts and strong sense of community make a tremendous impact on BISD.

    ntroducing the BISD STRONG Spring 2019 Winners

    Addie Carleton

    Name: Addie Carleton

    Grade: 6th grade at Sakai


    • Addie goes out of her way to help with various things in the classroom.  Every day she asks me how she can help me with something. She is also kind and helpful to other students.  If a fellow student is struggling to understand or move forward with something, Addie kindly explains and helps that student.  She is never condescending and is very patient.
    • Addie is one-of-a-kind, and a model student.
    • Addie helps build community by making everyone feel included.  She is patient and kind to everyone she meets.
    • Addie has a strong and empathetic heart, seeing the needs of others and being willing to take time to help.
    • Addie also has a strong mind, she is able to help others without making them feel bad or like they are beneath her - she is encouraging and supportive.
    • Words used to describe you: Intuitive, sensitive, patient, empathetic, loyal, reliable, friendly, respectful, generous, welcoming and supportive

    Jan Colby

    Name: Jan Colby

    Location: Blakely Elementary, kindergarten teacher


    • She is a nice teacher. She taught me how to spell. She is super kind. I want to give her a big pawsitive paw.  She is always reasonable, responsible and respectful.
    • She always helps us with our hard things to open at lunch.  She helped us plant tulips for the school and do a can food drive for people that don’t have enough to eat.
    • Mrs. Colby is an incredible teacher, leader and shaper of our kindergartners. Every day she brings energy, love and fun to learning - with a perfect balance of holding firm boundaries that prevents chaos in the classroom. She is so talented in keeping this balance.
    • Mrs. Colby is teaching our children to be kind, considerate community members and thoughtful, creative students.
    • Words used to describe you: beautiful, kind, generous, creative and wise

    Kathy Ellison

    Name: Kathy Ellison

    Location: Bainbridge High School, librarian


    • Ms. Ellison goes out of her way to make a connection with every student who enters her library.
    • I went to Sakai in 5th grade (for part of the year only and then left the school district until 9th grade.) Ms. Ellison was the librarian at Sakai when I was in 5th grade. When I went to the library at BHS . . . roughly 4 years after the last time I saw her . . . I was shocked when she greeted me by name!  By remembering my name after so long and after so many students since the last time she saw me, it showed that she cared and paid attention to every individual student, including me, and that felt good.
    • Words used to describe you: caring, attentive, passionate

    Aidan Wagner

    Name: Aidan Wagner

    Grade: 12th grade at Bainbridge High School


    • Aidan is an exemplary volunteer committed to Helpline House and volunteers during his free period because he wants to do something to help fight homelessness.
    • Aidan felt compelled to do something about the homeless that he sees in Seattle.  This prompted him to volunteer at Helpline House. Aidan where he shows up to Helpline working to make a difference.
    • Words used to describe you: compassionate, responsible, extremely positive, willing to lend a hand, efficient, polite, agreeable and timely

    Michelle Hope

    Name: Michelle Hope

    Location: Commodore Options School, office manager


    • Michelle is the glue that holds our school together. If I ever have a question about the school, I always go to Michelle. Michelle is always ready for conversation and has great social skills.
    • Michelle has a strong heart in which she always is ready to talk to me and sympathize. Michelle has a strong mind in which she knows where everything is and has the answer to every question.
    • Michelle is someone I trust greatly; She can handle any challenge thrown at her
    • Words used to describe you: awesome, kind, smart, quick-acting, calm, great social skills, trustworthy, mellow, rad, super, delightful, generous, hopeful

    Pamela Sloan

    Name: Pamela Sloan

    Location: District Office, Payroll Officer


    • Pamela constantly juggles a million questions, interruptions and challenges. Despite all of that, her cheerful personality and grade-A sense of humor shines through.
    • Pamela's job affects everyone where it matters most --- their pocketbooks! Because of the sensitivity of her work, she is asked a zillion (yes, I counted!) questions a day. She responds to the questions with a deep knowledge and a true desire to provide help and find solutions.
    • Pamela is a joy to be around and her laughter is contagious.
    • Words used to describe you: fabulous, fun, wickedly smart, delightful, compassionate and authentic

    Ash Hamlin

    Name: Ash Hamlin

    Grade: 4th grade at Wilkes Elementary


    • Ash deserves recognition for his positive attitude. Ash seems to be a natural helper and sensitive to including all students.
    • Ash always reaches out to include others. Recently in PE class he said the most important thing was that his partner in the activity was having fun. He was not concerned with winning.
    • As a member of 4th grade leadership, Ash was a participant in promoting a school-wide initiative to raise money for  water deprived communities.
    • At recess, Ash volunteers to help put away equipment and always touches base with recess staff in a friendly manner.
    • Words used to describe you: kind, respectful, creative, responsible

    Marcia Millican

    Name: Marcia Millican

    Location: Wilkes Elementary, paraeducator


    • Marcia is involved in making the whole district great!  She is an exceptional paraeducator in the classroom, as well as being an excellent recess monitor.
    • She is also an officer and committee member for BIESPA and does so much work on behalf of classified staff.  She knows the classified contract inside and out and participates in state and regional meetings.
    • At Wilkes, she is always on the look-out for anything potentially dangerous or procedures that could be better.  
    • She is quick to volunteer to fill any gap such as riding the buses when an adult is needed.  
    • She serves on the building Leadership team.
    • Strong Heart- Volunteers for numerous things throughout the year from organizing care baskets, to riding buses.  
    • Strong Minds- Marcia set up learning tasks so students develop independence and have success.  
    • Strong Community-Marcia advocates for strong schools and the local and state level through her union.  
    • Words used to describe you: meticulous, fun, professional, team-player

    Kim Mejia

    Name: Kim Mejia

    Location: Ordway Elementary, custodian


    • We are nominating Ms. Kim because she is thoughtful, kind, and puts effort into all of her work. Everyday, thanks to Ms. Kim, we can come into a clean and amazing classroom. She also plays with our potato heads and makes them creative in every way. We don’t know how she comes up with all of her ideas! She often leaves a nice note on the class board for us, too. We are nominating Ms. Kim because we want her to know how much we appreciate her!
    • Strong Heart: Ms. Kim has a strong heart because she cares about the students that she works with. She connects with us by making scenes with our class potato heads or leaving us a compliment on the board. She does this silently and sweetly.
    • Strong Mind: Ms. Kim has a strong mind because she never complains about a tough task. She is determined to help Ordway in anyway she can. She is also creative by making new poses with our potato heads.
    • Strong Community: Ms. Kim builds a strong community by staying late to clean all of the classrooms and rooms at Ordway. We appreciate her work because a messy classroom would be distracting for students. She is also helping to build a strong community by making leaving us special notes of encouragement and her creative designs with the potato heads. It is a kind way for her to communicate with us even though we don’t always see her. She’s letting us know that she is there and that she cares about us.
    • Ms. Kim always works hard at night, and she has to take care of a lot of people. She is nice to everybody, has a unique personality, and has a lot of creativity. She never complains about her job. She gets creative in ways to interact with our class and she is always willing to help. We know that she works in the evening, so she doesn’t always get to spend time with her family or interact with her friends. We appreciate her so much!
    • Words used to describe you: Ms. Kim Mejia is joyful, enthusiastic, energetic, fantastic, kind, creative, well-loved, unique, strong, honest, hard-working, caring, hopeful, responsible, respectful, focused, friendly, fabulous, nice, helpful, and loving.

    Karen Olson

    Name: Karen Olson

    Location: Transportation


    • Karen is a hard worker who wakes up early to drive the bus and do the other important parts of her job. She even gets up extra early when roads might be icy, and she drives the roads before students, students' parents, and school district employees leave for school, checking the roads to make sure they're safe.
    • Karen really cares about the students, and it shows. She greets each one warmly every day, and she's kind and supportive while safely transporting the children.
    • Words used to describe you: hard-working, dedicated, kind, cheery, safety-conscious, caring


  • It's always a happy day when it's BISD STRONG Award Day! Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen surprised the Winter 2019 recipients and as always, the day was filled with lots of smiles and some tears of joy. Congratulations to all the winners!



    Peter Bang-Knudsen and Dave Mueller

    Dave Mueller (Transportation): 

    • Every day Bus Driver Dave thinks about the individual riders. He encourages good behavior while skillfully redirecting poor bus rider behavior. He speaks slowly, clearly and directly to the kids.
    • Dave is thoughtful about how the bus ride can be a positive part of the day and takes special effort to do so. His strong heart is felt with his genuine care of the students’ well being.  He asks questions to encourage a positive interaction and repeats positive school messages to the parent so the child can hear praise.
    • He is always looking out for safety and gives a hand when needed.  
    • His positivity helps my child feel encouraged and happy when she walks off the bus and into the rest of her day. He’s realized that she enjoys fist bumps and high fives and he remembers to do that as she gets off the bus, leaving her completely delighted.   
    • Words used to describe Dave: Thoughtful, considerate, attentive, kind

    BISD STRONG Award Winner Amy Friedman

    Amy Friedman (Ordway Preschool):

    • Ms. Friedman cares about and follows through with each and every student and makes a point to get to know the families.
    • Ms. Friedman goes out of her way (even on days off!) to check on how my child is doing.
    • Ms. Friedman is simply amazing!
    • Words used to describe Ms. Friedman: Kind, fun, loving, caring, positive, hopeful

    BISD STRONG Award Winner Cade Miller

    Cade Miller (6th-grader at Sakai):

    • Cade has an extraordinary level of compassion that he shows in his daily interactions with students and staff.  
    • He has made a tremendous difference in the lives of students through his acts of kindness and inclusion.  
    • He is a role model for others and is admired and respected for his genuine acts of compassion and warmth.
    • Cade is incredibly polite and respectful to everyone.  The genuineness with which he speaks to others is noticed by so many staff members at Sakai.  It is refreshing to see someone go out of their way for others on a daily basis, and that is exactly what Cade does.
    • Words used to describe Cade: Kind, humble, compassionate, caring, funny, helpful, respectful, responsible

    Karen Keller

    Karen Keller (Blakely Kindergarten):

    • Ms. Keller truly embodies the beauty of character, wit, humour, and grace that we all hope for in a teacher. She is zany and funny, supportive and loving, and has that uncanny ability to walk the line of relaxed good humour while maintaining high standards and rigor.
    • She took the little pack of kindergarten bear cubs from their gleeful wrestling and cavorting as they entered kindergarten, to happily transitioning in a plethora of learning tasks.
    • Ms. Keller is a wonderful gift to our community.
    • Words used to describe Ms. Keller: Joyful, sassy, clear headed, authentic, witty, loving

    BISD STRONG Winner Marci Collins

    Marci Collins (Nurse at Blakely Elementary):

    • Nurse Marci goes above and beyond to take care of all the children at Blakely.
    • Nurse Marci is very compassionate and thorough with her care of the children at Blakely.  Nurse Marci goes above and beyond to provide a safe place for everyone at Blakely. She has excellent communication skills and has far exceeded what we could have only imagined.  
    • We couldn’t wish for better care for our daughter and are so grateful for all that Marci does.  
    • Words used to describe Nurse Marci: Kind, compassionate, friendly, empathetic, understanding, an amazing communicator, an advocate for children with special needs

    BISD STRONG Winner Amy Jernigan

    Amy Jernigan (Reading Specialist at Wilkes Elementary):

    • Ms. Jernigan’s  work with the Reading Club positively impacts students' self confidence and love of learning.
    • Learning to read opens your mind, and the world up to you. Ms. Jernigan’s efforts working with students in the Reading Club builds strong hearts, strong minds and strong community.  
    • Words used to describe Ms. Jernigan: Helpful, professional, knowledgeable, supportive, caring

    BISD STRONG Winner Melissa Dupree

    Melissa Dupree (English Teacher Bainbridge High School):

    • Ms. Dupre has many students to teach in her classes, yet is able to give specialized attention to students.  
    • Ms. Dupre recognizes students’ potential for success
    • Ms. Dupre approaches students with heart and compassion, trying to find what makes them tick so that she can help motivate them to succeed.
    • Her strong mind makes students think.Words used to describe Ms. Dupre: Compassionate, curious, thoughtful, inventive, dedicated

    BISD STRONG Award Winner Ella Arvish

    Ella Arvish (8th Grader at Woodward Middle School):

    • Ella is a wonderful person. If everyone was like Ella everyone one would fit in and no one would be judged.
    • Ella is always happy and positive. I've never once seen her without a smile on her face. Her smile and happiness are contagious and it's something I hope she never loses.
    • Whenever I walk by Ella in the hallway or see her at school she always says "Hi", and compliments me before I even see her.  If you ever look upset Ella is always there to put a smile on your face.
    • Words used to describe Ella: Encouraging, uplifting, positive, complimentary, kind, happy, bright, accepting

    BISD STRONG Award Winner Dave Walker

    Dave Walker (Woodward Middle School PE Teacher):

    • Dave Walker, a beloved PE teacher, has coached the same middle school boys' basketball team two years in a row. 
    • He uses a great amount of patience, love and direction. He is a great coach, working on life skills of perseverance and grit.
    • Mr. Walker is a strong coach and mentor. He has known how to push just hard enough, but used great empathy and understanding with the team.
    • Words used to describe Mr. Walker: Hard working, dedicated to youth, competitive and fun

    Madie Medina

    Madie Medina (11th grader at Bainbridge High School)

    • Madie volunteers her time with GoRun after school at Sakai and always asks and checks to see if we're okay when we're running.
    • Madie comes prepared with a "question of the day" to ask us so we're not thinking about being tired.  She also gives us tips for not getting tired like when I get side cramps, she says I should take a deep breath and put pressure on my side where it hurts.  It helps!
    • Madie is always including other girls, by saying things like "let's slow down so ______ can catch up."
    • Madie is a good leader, if the adults are busy, she starts stretches and games with us.  
    • Words used to describe Madie: leader, inclusive, athletic, fun
  • During the week of Dec. 17, 2018, Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen surprised the winners of the BISD STRONG Award for the fall quarter. Congratulations! 

    Do you know someone who exemplifies BISD's motto of having a strong mind, strong heart and strong (sense of) community? Nominate them today by clicking on this form. 


    Rebekah Balmer


    Rebekah Ballmer (Special Education at Wilkes Elementary):

    • Rebekah is an unfailing advocate for children with learning challenges.
    • Rebekah brings her years of experience as an early childhood and special needs expert to assist our students, and her efforts make a difference on a daily basis.
    • She works long hours teaching during the school day and helping kids with learning and social struggles, as well as supervising her staff. She then remains long after school to facilitate or attend meetings, respond to parent communications, and craft IEPs and create lessons for her students.
    • Rebekah follows through steadfastly on her strong belief in the calling of her profession.
    • Words used to describe Rebekah: compassionate, dedicated, hard-working, experienced, skilled, wise

    Ben Muehlenkamp


    Ben Muehlenkamp (11th-grader at Bainbridge High School):

    • After walking to Bainbridge High School, I needed to rest before going into the school. Ben saw me and stopped to chat and to see if I was OK. He was polite, concerned and offered to help. When I said I was all right, he wished me a great day.
    • He is always polite and is a very diligent student.
    • Ben’s warmth and offer to assist me touched my heart.
    • Words used to describe Ben: thoughtful, kind and caring


    Sawyer Blair


    Sawyer Blair (12th-grader at Bainbridge High School):

    • Sawyer is one of the brightest lights at Bainbridge High School. He is ALWAYS smiling, saying hello, making friendly conversation, and offering help to not only his peers, but to anyone who needs it.
    • He is a captain on the cross country team and is a natural leader. He leads by example. Sawyer is concerned and caring about all of his teammates and he will go out of his way to make each one feel included and relevant. At a recent BIXC home meet, after he finished running the 5k race, he didn't just go hang out with his buddies. Instead, Sawyer stood at the chute as all the remaining runners came in from all seven teams and he cheered each person on, if not by name then by school, as they came in one by one.
    • He is kind and empathetic; he is intelligent and funny. He surely has positively impacted more people than he is even aware of.
    • Words used to describe Sawyer: honest, kind, trustworthy, compassionate, empathetic, funny, smart, intelligent, aware, optimistic, hopeful, enthusiastic, generous, patient

    Bobby Coulter

    Bobby Coulter (7th-grader at Woodward Middle School):

    • Bobby shows incredible kindness to fellow students, and shows leadership and the ability to accept and work with differences in peers.
    • He has consistently gone out of his way to make our Family and Consumer Science classroom environment accessible to his team mate and seeks out opportunities for her to be fully involved in their work as lab partners.
    • It is an honor and a pleasure to see Bobby be so kind to others in class, especially to students who need a bit of extra help to be included. Bobby is a great example for other students to follow in this area. He is a student that makes BISD strong.
    • Words used to describe Bobby: patient, inclusive, honest, brave, passionate, caring, curious, hardworking and kind.

    Karaline Eckert

    Karaline Eckert (8th-grader at Woodward Middle School):

    • Karaline is honest and stands up to inequities. She is not afraid to call out inappropriate hateful behavior. She takes action. She's compassionate and cares. She has great integrity.
    • Karaline is a champion for the marginalized. She is an ally that is willing to act. She is not afraid.
    • Words used to describe Karaline: courageous, honest, action oriented, integrity, caring, peaceful

    Mr. Harris

    Tim Harris (Woodward Middle School Technology Education):

    • Tim is an outstanding educator who builds relationships like no teacher I have ever seen.
    • Tim cares about the kids in this community -- all of them. Not just WMS students. Tim also knows the names of almost all parents, and all kids in the school. By heart. It's amazing. He has an absolute incredible memory. It makes a difference when he says a student's name who may otherwise feel invisible. In just an instant, Tim lets that student know they matter!
    • I have never met a teacher like Tim. I've heard of them. I know they exist. But to actually meet one, it's like seeing a unicorn. He is TOP NOTCH in every way; building relationships, differentiating for kids that need a different way, helpful, and willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole.
    • Words used to describe Tim: loyal, caring, reflective, hardworking, motivated, people-oriented, loves students, loves learning


    Michele McCallum-Moore (3rd-grader at Blakely Elementary):

    • Michele likes to make friends and doesn't like people feeling left out so she goes out of her way to make sure people are included in activities.
    • She is very caring.
    • Words used to describe Michele : understanding and compassionate


    Denise Corso (Eagle Harbor High School Study Skills & Integrated Math):

    • Denise knows and works with all EHHS students regardless of whether they are on her student load. She is generous with her time and lavish with her attention. When a need is identified, she finds a way to fill it.
    • Denise truly cares about our students and finds creative solutions to issues.  Denise has kept food in her classroom for when a student had forgotten to eat breakfast. This led to a suggestion of a snack table which led to a PTO sponsored snack table.
    • Over the summer, Denise became CTE certified so that she would be able to offer an IT essentials class to her tech team. These 7 students are now getting a professional certification and while obtaining high school credit.
    • Denise is always willing to support teachers and students. She frequently helps teachers learn new tech programs. Denise organizes events for the community big and small.
    • Words used to describe Denise: generous, flexible, helpful, high standards for students

    Sean Walker

    Sean Walker (Transportation Department):

    • Sean is a caring bus driver who does a phenomenal job keeping his charges safe and balancing the needs of the community. Particularly, as he drives down Sunrise each day, he will look for opportunities to let cars that queue up behind him safely pass, as he offers a friendly wave.
    • He also always has a greeting or kind word for both students and parents. And he does this while maintaining a safe and positive environment on the bus for his students. He is an asset to the community and a great example of someone who goes above and beyond meeting the needs of the kids, parents, and the greater community.
    • Words used to describe Sean: friendly, looks out for other people, conscientious, goes above and beyond what's expected

    Mr. Hannon

    Jim Hannon (Custodian at Blakely Elementary School):

    • Jim goes way above and beyond to make sure that the staff are supported and have everything they need so that they can focus all of their attention on the students. I have never worked with a custodian who took the time to ask the staff what they need, and then he works extremely hard to do whatever needs to be done.
    • Jim always has a positive attitude and helps cheer people up. He takes the time to do the small things like empty the pencil sharpeners, and hunts for random recycle bins tucked under teacher desks so that they can be emptied. He takes the student chairs down in the morning. He makes sure that all of our classrooms are open, lights on, and heated so that we come into a welcoming space each morning. He does ALL of this with a smile and a "can do" attitude that makes our building a friendlier and more supportive place all around.
    • Words used to describe Jim: extremely hard-working, cheerful, supportive, warm, generous, a team player
  • The final round of awards for BISD STRONG were distributed to these fabulous recipipents. The BISD STRONG Award will be back again next fall. In the meantime, be on the lookout for BISD students and staff that you would like to nominate next year. 

    An embarrassed Bernie listens to highlights from his nomination.

    Bernie Mejia (Maintenance):

    • Bernie is very responsive to the needs of each school. He is always friendly in his approach to solving maintenance issues. With our aging facilities, he and his crew do an amazing job of keeping us up and running and making constant improvements.
    • Bernie has a strong heart. He always listens carefully to the needs of our custodians and staff. He sees the big picture and does his best to help everyone.
    • Bernie is a thinker. He is always looking several years down the road regarding facility needs. He always wants to please, yet works hard to make his work as efficient as possible.
    • Bernie supports our whole school community. Without his guidance, we would be struggling to maintain safe and clean working environments for our students and staff.
    • Bernie is one of my go to people! He is always very responsive when I need to reach out to him for help. He is also very kind, has a great sense of humor and is a very dedicated and loyal BISD employee.
    • Bernie is easy to approach and is patient.
    • Bernie works tirelessly to ensure that requests are answered and the buildings are properly maintained. When emergencies require his undivided attention, he is the first to step up.
    • Words used to describe you include: thoughtful, kind, patient, hardworking, dedicated, dependable, has a good sense of humor, intelligent, empathetic, generous with his time, willing to assist anyone, generous soul, problem-solver

    Peter Bang-Knudsen and Ainsley

    Ainsley Candelaria (6th grader at Sakai):

    • Ainsley is always kind, fun to be around, smart, and an awesome friend!
    • Everyone in the class likes her.
    • She’s always trying to help others and has a strong heart.
    • She is just an all-around nice and amazing person.
    • Words used to describe you include sweet, kind, considerate and smart

    Peter Bang-Knudsen and Steve Brown

    Steve Brown (Transportation):

    • Steve has kept all three of my children (now ages 20, 18 and 14) safe on their rides to and from school, watched them grow up and support them outside of his obligatory bus driver duties.
    • He attended kid assemblies and awards ceremonies. Steve has an amazing sense of humor.
    • He is respected by his riders and appreciated by the parents of those said riders. He even had a song written about him by the Blakely 3rd-grade class.
    • He is legendary and deserves epic recognition.
    • Steve is a BHS graduate and salt of the earth member of our community.
    • He is huge teddy bear.
    • Words used to describe you include: loyal, caring, attuned, committed and genuine

    Peter Bang-Knudsen and Susan Knell

    Susan Knell (French teacher at WMS):

    • Madam Knell always has the brightest smile in the mornings no matter what is happening. She is constantly inspiring the people around her to do well and make a change.
    • She volunteers her lunchtime every day to help other staff and students sort their food correctly. Instead of getting mad when students don't understand or aren't paying attention, she tries to help them in a way they will understand.
    • Madam Knell has the utmost respect for her community at school and in the world. She constantly encourages the people in her life to go green and save the world one step at a time.
    • Madam Knell encourages students to help others and help themselves by taking care of themselves. She cares about everyone, no matter who they are or if she has even met them.
    • Madam Knell is supportive of her students and goes to see their performances and the next day she sings their praises.
    • Words used to describe you include: kind, funny, bright, encouraging, generous, thinks of others, understanding

    Cathy Oden and Peter Bang-Knudsen

    Cathy Oden (COS Paraeducator):

    • Cathy never gives up on us.
    • Cathy is really funny, helps everyone, gives good advice and makes our classroom better.
    • Cathy is a wonderful teacher, creating a spectacular learning environment for the whole class. She makes learning fun and easy, she is SUPER helpful.
    • She is always is happy to see us and has a great attitude. Cathy was my first thought when I found out I could nominate someone for this award.
    • She makes the classroom so much better whether it’s helping me with my writing, or making a little joke to lighten the mood. Cathy, out of all people, definitely deserves this award.
    • She always understands us and wears the biggest smile.
    • Words used to describe you include kind, strong, smart, helpful, funny, awesome, humorous, curious, reliable, thoughtful


    Brian Parker

    Brian Parker (Food Services): Nominated fall, winter and summer!

    • Brian continually goes above and beyond his role as a Food Service Manager at BHS. He engages with all students and prides himself on knowing their names and a little something about each student like a hobby or special event.
    • He remained calm during the week that Skyward was down and still had to serve BHS snacks and lunches to 1300+ students and staff.
    • During BHS's evacuation on May 10,  Brian was concerned about students and staff eating and drinking so as soon as he could, he coordinated food to be brought out to the fields to keep everyone well fed.
    • He is just one of those people that keeps BHS going strong with significant impacts everyday with his positive attitude and his commitment to providing the best tasting food served with a smile.
    • Words used to describe you include: energetic, friendly, committed, passionate about his job and the students

    Peter Bang-Knudsen and Rochelle

    Rochelle Olney (7th grader at WMS):

    • I am nominating Rochelle because every time I see her she is always there to be a friend.
    • She loves school and loves her friends. She has been through a lot and always looks on the bright side.
    • She loves helping other people and brightens people’s day by just her lovely smile. She’s always trying to help others and has a strong heart
    • At Saki she was at the top student to bring in food for Helpline house.
    • When a friend and I were not getting along, she was there for both of us and gave some great advice, and some big hugs.
    • She does a lot for her friends and her community.
    • Words used to describe you include funny, sympathetic, creative, smart and supportive

    Peter Bang-Knudsen and Carol

    Carol Laiche (Technology):

    • I am nominating Carol for her overall enthusiasm in supporting all staff that use Skyward and especially for her hard work in rolling out the new Skyward module for online registration that will impact all schools district-wide.
    • I just pushed (literally) the button on our FIRST online registration packet and electronically "enrolled" a new freshman! This would not have been possible without months of Carol working hard to set up this module in Skyward. This roll out will affect all schools and it is amazing how it will also impact the nursing staff, highly capable and SPED departments as well.
    • I know for the high school she went above and beyond just setting it up as there are many special forms that she created just for secondary grade-level inquiries that will make gathering transcripts and previous school enrollment so much easier.
    • Words used to describe you include: dedicated, enthusiastic, committed to quality and caring

    Krista PAl

    Krista Pal (BHS Counseling Office):

    • Krista helped guide us and our daughter through an extremely challenging time she faced this year in high school.
    • Due to some challenges our daughter was facing, Krista met with us many times, spoke with our daughter to determine what she needed, and communicated with her teachers to make all of the necessary arrangements and accommodations.
    • All the while, Krista confidently assured us that our daughter would be fine academically in the future.... and was truly a light at the end our dark tunnel.
    • I can't adequately say how much her help, information, calm manner, and positive outlook have meant to our family and to the emotional well-being of our daughter.
    • Krista is everything a parent or student could ever ask for in an academic counselor, and should be the model of what BISD/BHS aspires to provide every day.
    • Words used to describe you include: professional, responsive, compassionate, confident, encouraging
  • The BISD STRONG Awards were handed out for the spring quarter and oh were the recipients surprised! Read below to learn who won and what the nominators had to say about them.



    BISD STRONG Award: Sofia Fleischmann

    Sofia Fleischmann (Sakai):

    • Each week, Sofia enthusiastically volunteers to help her fellow classmates.
    • Sofia represents BISD Strong and embodies strong heart and strong community. She has a strong heart because she freely shares her time with her fellow classmates. She also helps build a strong community by including students of all abilities in typical social interactions and helps everyone feel a part of the school  community
    • Words used to describe Sofia include caring, reliable, engaging, cheerful, unselfish, and kind


    BISD STRONG: Nelson Wynne

    Nelson  Wynne (Sakai):

    • Nelson is very joyful to be around
    • He is a hard worker and determined
    • He lifts up the spirits of his classmates, is smart and is well-liked by the entire class
    • Words used to describe Nelson include amazing, strong, resourceful, helpful


    BISD STRONG: Devon Biddle

    Devon Biddle (Odyssey)

    • Devon is very strong, has an open heart and is the most caring and loving person I know
    • She is very helpful and always willing to help others
    • Devon is a great person and is always making new friends
    • She is the best and funniest person on Earth!
    • Words used to describe you include brave, determined, kind, loving, forgiving, helpful, funny, smart, easy to be around, caring, amazing, outstanding, awesome


    BISD STRONG: Mallory McMullen

    Mallory McMullen (Woodward):

    • Mallory is a very special student. She is kind and accepting of everyone, with a particularly courageous ability to stand up for anyone being mistreated
    • She wears clothes that bring her joy and her changing hair colors also represent her love of diversity
    • Mallory does very well in school. She is a creative and quick learner, and she always says hello to her teachers in the hall
    • Wrote your teacher, “I look to Mallory as a role model for our students, as well as myself, and feel honored to be her teacher.”
    • Words used to describe you include kind, smart, strong

    BISD STRONG: Ava Targett

    Ava Targett (Woodward):

    • Ava demonstrates leadership, kindness, academic excellence, compassion, and motivation
    • Ava is an amazing student and as an 8th grader is taking AP Chinese
    • She is one of our ASB Executive Board members and models leadership with her involvement in school functions, planning, running ASB meetings, interacting with staff and students, and in trying to connect with students that are new and don't have many friends and those that may eat alone at lunch
    • She is outgoing, personable and an excellent communicator
    • She's going to lead the country one day. Wait and see!
    • Words used to describe you include kind, smart, motivated, empathetic, knowledgeable, hardworking, happy, generous

    BISD STRONG: Marie Kingome

    Marie Djemondo Kingombe (Bainbridge High School)

    • When I think about a student who consistently works hard and who is genuinely grateful for their education, Marie stands out above the rest
    • Marie and her family moved to the United States from the Republic of Congo when she was 12 years old. Her father left her mom and six siblings when Marie was only five years old. He moved to the U.S. to find work to help support the family and to build a better, safer life. Marie and her family did not see their dad until they moved almost six years later to south Seattle. Marie did not know English whatsoever and quickly had to navigate middle school as best as she could without being able to communicate effectively (English is her fourth language). The family eventually moved to Bainbridge Island, which was a culture shock on multiple levels. In a primarily white school district where there are very few ELL students, Marie has had to work much harder academically and socially than most. Despite this, she has chosen to take classes that challenge her.
    • Marie has dealt with language and cultural challenges on a daily basis. Rather than let this defeat her, she has instead used this to fuel her. Her self-advocacy skills and desire to learn are remarkable. She is truly grateful for her education, the unconditional support of staff members, and the community for helping her and her family. Her overall zest for life is remarkable and contagious.
    • Marie is someone who is nice to everyone. She works hard to make sure new students feel included and welcome. She has a strong heart and strong mind because despite the challenges that have been thrown at her, she ALWAYS has a positive attitude, a smile on her face, and continues to work hard to achieve her goals
    • Words used to describe Marie include compassionate, loving, kind, welcoming, leader, positive



    BISD STRONG: Lani Chaffee

    Lani Chaffee (District Office)

    • Lani is very committed in making the district a professional, yet accessible environment for everyone
    • Lani is exceptionally organized and always seems to go the extra mile in making sure the job is done right. She manages to be both friendly and professional at the same time
    • She seems to keep an eye out for the community the board and has a gift for making each person feel seen and heard
    • She is always accessible and focused
    • Words used to describe Lani include committed, conscientious, caring and intelligent

    BISD STRONG: Dane Fenwick

    Dane Fenwick (Facilities Management and Custodial Supervisor)

    • Dane has a strong work ethic and a strong commitment to improving our district
    • Dane looks for ways to go the extra mile. He takes great pride in his work and teaches those he supervises to do the same
    • He is very solution-oriented
    • He frequently expresses that he enjoys his work and serving the district
    • Words used to describe Dane include willing and dedicated

    BISD STRONG: Kaleb Anderson

    Kaleb Anderson (Bainbridge High School Teacher)

    • Kaleb’s commitment to our students is outstanding
    • He has built a community within the classroom where students have fun, love their school, love their teacher and love their peers. This is done while also building independence and dignity
    • In the classroom and on his own time, Kaleb sets up athletic teams and coaches them so they can be part of an athletic experience. Students are experiencing the joy of competitiveness. Now my child comes home and says “PE was so fun today!”
    • Words used to describe Kaleb include thoughtful, enthusiastic for student success, problem-solver, vested
  • Aren’t surprises the best? Recently Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen surprised the nine BISD STRONG Award recipients. Along with big smiles there were quite a few happy tears as recipients listened to the reasons why they are being honored with an award. The BISD STRONG Award aims to recognize and celebrate the many individuals who make our district strong and have strong minds, strong hearts and a strong sense of community.


    Kindergarten through 6th-grade Category:

    • Eli Cook (5th grade): Eli faces physical challenges every day, and comes to school with a positive disposition. He is kind, thoughtful, funny, and determined to excel in his work every day. Eli exemplifies resiliency, determination, and kindness; these are the strengths that matter most. Words used to describe Eli: thoughtful, patient, understanding, funny, creative thinker and music lover.
    • Zoe Inslee (kindergarten): Zoe is a natural helper with a huge heart. Zoe has a strong mind and a strong sense of community. Zoe is so kind, wise, enthusiastic and caring. It is such a joy to have her infectious enthusiasm and energy in class every day! She really does melt your heart with her natural, intrinsic social awareness, empathy, and maturity. Words used to describe Zoe: kind, outgoing, nurturing, caring, enthusiastic, thoughtful, happy
    • Aysen Lampa (1st grade): Aysen deserves some recognition for all of the kindness he shares and all of the personal growth and progress he has made. He helps neighbors take out trash and walk their pets. He goes out of his way to check on people and see if they are okay. I hear from classmates’ parents that he spends his recesses helping others and wandering around checking on everyone. Words used to describe Aysen: compassionate, passionate, dedicated, driven, accepting.


    7th-grade to 12th-grade Category:

    • Will Browning (7th grade): Will is kind — I have witnessed him put others before himself in the classroom, and he always does this with a good heart. He never fails to pause to say “please” and “thank you”, reminding us all how easy common courtesy can be, and yet how rare it truly is. Will is funny — not only can he make others laugh with his, often dry, sense of humor, he is also able to laugh at himself. He has an uncanny ability to diffuse a situation by breaking into song or referencing a line from a movie at any given moment.Will has a huge heart that he gives willingly to others and to himself. He is accepting of himself when things might be difficult, but always looks at how to make it better. He truly cares about others and demonstrates that quality through his actions. Words used to describe Will include: hardworking, tenacious, funny, determined, resilient and reflective.
    • Emma Chee (12th grade): Three years ago, I asked Emma to teach my daughter the Special Olympics Gymnastics Routines. All on her own, Emma figured out the routines and figured out how to help my daughter master them. After that first session, Emma continued coaching my daughter most Saturdays for the next three years. I have been so impressed with Emma’s self direction, her work ethic, and her devotion to helping my daughter improve her skills. Emma has continuously gone over and above the job she signed on for. Words used to describe Emma: disciplined, dedicated, determined, strong, capable, compassionate
    • Kylie Turner (8th grade): Kylie a positive influence on those around her and she has a terrific attitude. Not only is Kylie an amazing and successful student, but she also thrives in her achievements outside of school. Particularly, she is learning Spanish by having daily early morning phone conversations with a Guatemalan teacher. She is passionate about learning this language and about the culture. On her own, Kylie discovered we have a Guatemalan ELL student at our school. She introduced herself to this student and has been helping her. Kylie often works with this student during lunch and, on several occasions has gone to class with her to help her to translate the lesson. Kylie is compassionate and action-oriented. She works hard and is making a difference in her community. Words used to describe Kylie: kind, positive, compassionate, involved, caring, problem-solver, hard-worker


    BISD Staff Category:

    • Kyanne Hawkins (Blakely Front Office): Kyanne is a wonderful presence when you walk into Blakely! She has a Strong Heart: She is kind, compassionate and welcoming to everyone - new families and old families. Her smile and willingness to accept and help people who come into the office just makes it a truly welcoming place. Strong Mind: She knows and remembers everything! Strong Community: This springs from the welcoming place. Blakely is a better place because Kyanne is in the office! Words used to describe Kyanne: friendly, organized, kind, compassionate, understanding, helpful
    • Karen Knezevich (Sakai Teacher): Karen is the very best example of what a teacher should be and she is an amazing co-worker and supervisor. She is relatively new to the school district, but from the very first moment she arrived it seemed like she had been here forever. She is honest, trustworthy, kind, patient, firm, reasonable, understanding, and wise in her every day work. She is this way with EVERYONE — students, staff, and parents alike. She gives and gives and gives of herself day after day. She continues to support and unite our team in so many thoughtful and kind ways. She is ALWAYS there for each individual student in every way possible, even though they may test her over and over again. She is always kind. She always asks about others before talking about herself. Words used to describe Karen: kind, smart, funny, caring, encouraging, warm, giving
    • Tracy Shulman (BHS Teacher): Ms. Shulman is one of the most compassionate people I know. She takes it as her responsibility to connect and help each and every student in her class. She encourages all students to be their best and succeed in her class and in life. She provides a safe classroom full of care, kindness, and tolerance. Ms. Shulman connects with all of her students, and helps them with each of their unique weaknesses. From helping a disorganized student organize their binder, to providing a safe place for a shy public speaker, Ms. Shulman knows just how to fix any problem a student has. She has a strong heart, and genuinely wants to help her students learn about history, but most importantly, life lessons. To her, a strong mind isn’t one that can recite certain dates. She molds her students into critical and persuasive speakers that can communicate their ideas, yet accept the ideas of others. Words used to describe Tracy: empathetic, kind, caring, mentor, supportive, sincere.


  • Kindergarten through 6th-grade Category:

    • Farrah Colby (2nd grade): Farrah is a kind and compassionate classmate. She is a problem-solver that is willing to stand up to any form of injustice at school. Farrah will be a friend to anyone that needs one.
    • Carly Hart (6th grade): Carly is compassionate, hard-working and empathetic. Her determination is inspirational. 
    • Joseph Hughes (4th grade): Joseph is a deep thinking, kind, and family oriented individual, with a world awareness based on history.

    7th-grade to 12th-grade Category:

    • Alex Miller (8th grade): Alex is fun to watch in Cross Country and often leads the pack from start to finish. But what is truly inspiring about Alex is after he finishes the race he stays at the finish line to give his Woodward teammates high fives and compliments. While many exhausted finishers stagger to the team area to get re-hydrated and get some well-deserved food, Alex waits at the finish line and ensures that every single teammate is recognized.
    • Ethan Soltanzadeh (11th grade): Ethan is a leader in the BHS community, both publicly and behind the scenes. He is a quiet supporter to struggling students and exhibits true character in interactions with all staff and students. Ethan is unique in his individuality and thoughtfulness.
    • Erin Weiss (8th grade): Erin is an incredible leader, hard worker, always steps up to help others and has a great attitude. She is friendly, talks to new students, is polite to everyone and is an example to others.

    BISD Staff Category:

    • Tiffany Kelly (Transportation): Tiffany greets each student by name and takes care of individual students' needs (such as nervous bus riders). She has become part of our "team" and our family and we know the kids are in a safe place [on her bus] every morning and afternoon. 
    • Shirley Rice (Food Services): Shirley consistently demonstrates an exceptional commitment to going the extra mile to ensure the very best for students. She works hard to ensure students throughout the district have access to fresh, nutritious foods and greets and interacts with students in a positive, friendly, supporting manner.
    • Lois Walter (Ordway teacher): Lois has a warm and caring heart, a bright and engaging style of teaching and is kind and respectful to those around her. She is patient, joyful, diligent and caring.