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BISD STRONG Awards handed out for Fall 2021

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

BISD is now accepting nominations for the Spring 2022 BISD STRONG Award. It only takes a few moments to fill out the nomination form and all nominees receive a certificate and a letter outlining highlights from the nominations. Those selected for the BISD STRONG Award will be surprised in the classroom or BISD department and receive a commemorative glass award. Information: