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Keith Jacobus viewpoint: Recognizing key people in our system

As part of our strategic plan to enhance our climate and culture, new this year is the acknowledgement of a select group of our workforce of more than 3,500 full- and part-time employees. Recognized monthly by their peers for their positive contributions to a strong, positive climate and culture in our district, three ambassadors are recognized each month at a school board meeting. Their efforts, together with so many others, helps improve the learning environment for students.

Briefly highlighted are the 18 ambassadors so far this school year. Their positions in the district vary greatly, but demonstrate the diverse workforce that supports learning in many ways.

Gail Ivesdale, administrative assistant in Community Education, carves out time to make her co-workers feel special each day.

Linda Homan, paraprofessional at Next Step, is described as the epitome of a team player and always willing to take on some of the more challenging tasks in the district.

Bill Rahn, math teacher at Woodbury High School, brings a diverse way of thinking into the classroom. He is described as being open-minded, enthusiastic and passionate about what he does.

Jeff Boese, bus driver/trainer, is said to care about the physical and emotional well-being of all students. Jeff's upbeat attitude instills positivity in students and staff alike.

Ann Ross, Academic Success coach at Pine Hill Elementary School, aims to provide a top-notch learning environment for all.

Kwame Ayim, assistant director of facilities for District 833, is always willing to go out of his way for other employees, and is able to connect with others with kindness and empathy.

Luke Riesgraf, counselor at Woodbury Middle School, is described as a true leader, a great communicator, and someone who continuously brings new and innovative ideas to the school.

Anne Johnson, Kids Club supervisor at Grey Cloud Elementary School, works hard to ensure Grey Cloud Elementary continues to be a creative, fun and safe environment for all.

Tammy Yourczek, Red Rock Elementary School third-grade teacher, is described as a positive, professional, and someone who shows kindness and grace to all.

Erin Donarski, language arts teacher at East Ridge High School, is said to ignite a passion in her students by connecting with each one of them individually.

Stephan Pozel, senior trainer for Transportation, specializes in training new and existing drivers on working with special education students and equipment. He is an innovative leader in developing outstanding training programs.

Wendy Tracy, director for Nutrition Services, is said to always remember the "little things," to be quick with a smile or a kind word, and to make others want to consistently improve.

Denise Coquyt, Grey Cloud Elementary School second-grade teacher, is said to do a fantastic job appreciating the diversity of her students and personalizing learning for all.

Jamie Kirchner, science teacher at Oltman Middle School, is described as the epitome of a lifelong learner.

Juanita Dean, serves as a custodian at East Ridge High School, and is said to continuously bring a smile to everyone she interacts with. Fellow East Ridge staff members say she makes them better just by having the chance to work with her each day.

Brian Eberhardt, teacher at Lake Middle School, is described as articulate, hard-working and a leader among the staff at Lake. His colleagues say it is evident he cares about helping all young people achieve their goals every day.

Marie Skeates, office professional at Red Rock Elementary School, is a highly committed and caring person who takes great pride in her work. Her fellow staff members say she cares about making Red Rock the best school it can possibly be.

Patrice Siefert, English Learner teacher at Pine Hill Elementary School, cares deeply for all students at Pine Hill. She has a large caseload of English Learners at the school but takes the time to engage, challenge and help every one of her students.

As the largest employer in the county, we continually seek paraprofessionals, nutrition service and transportation employees, as well as teachers, to support a diverse employee base. Employment information is available on the district website at sowashco.org, then services, then human resources.

Keith Jacobus is superintendent of South Washington County Schools.

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