Education Support Professionals Week (formally Classified Staff Appreciation) is March 13-17, 2023. This week acknowledges the important work Education Support Professionals do across the district and statewide. Partnering with teachers, administrators, students, and families, support professionals touch every aspect of the public education system and help keep it running smoothly. Take time this week to celebrate the impact of the paraeducators, drivers, kitchen, office staff, and many more who make a difference in the Enumclaw School District. Meet some of the amazing ESD Education Support Professionals below.
Born in Mexico, Leslie and her family moved to Enumclaw when she was elementary school age. As a lifelong Hornet, she came back to ESD after receiving her degree from Green River College.
"The purpose of the cultural program is inclusivity. Students come together with their uniqueness to find unity. It can be challenging at times, but we get to adapt to their individual needs" Leslie explains. In addition to being the district Cultural Specialist, Leslie is an English/Spanish interpreter for ESD events, conferences, meetings, and providing translations for the approximately 10% of ESD enrolled families who are Spanish speaking at home. "I see the impact the program has made and love connecting with families."
"Leslie is the foundation of student support in our program" says Sui-Lan Ho'okano, District Cultural Support Program Manager.
Mother of three and grandmother of two (with one more on the way), Kathy and her husband own and run Wallin Dairy in Enumclaw. Driving both morning and afternoon routes, she also works with high school students during the midday.
Just before the age of 21, Kathy was hired as a member of the ESD transportation department to help with concerns on specific buses until she was old enough to have a route of her own. Over two decades later, she is still here and now the most senior driver on staff! Kathy has been far and wide across the nearly 450 square mile school district!
”This is an awesome place to work... you get to meet people from all across the district. What I love most is getting to know the kids and their families day in and day out. You treat the kids on your bus like your own!" Nowadays, Kathy is primarily serving students from Selleck, Ravensdale and Black Diamond, driving 171 miles daily.
Annette is originally from Enumclaw, and although she spent time growing up on both sides of the bridge - a true Hornet at heart - is an EHS graduate. After taking time to live and work elsewhere, she moved back to Enumclaw to raise her son and daughter in the town she loves, with family and friends close by, and getting back to being in the beautiful outdoors. When Annette’s children were young, she enjoyed volunteering in their Kindergarten classes, which led to her 15-year career in ESD.
Now, as the Student Information Systems Specialist (Skyward), Annette has done a little bit of everything: Paraeducator, Office Manager, Substitute Coordinator, Executive Secretary for Technology and Assessment. Transitioning to her current role in October, she is continuing to grow and learn new things everyday. What she does is a mystery to many, but changes and updates appear automatically in Skyward accounts, she is an important piece of that “automatic” process. Some areas she works in daily are new employee accounts, school calendars, course and grading configurations for each school year, food services accounts, student IDs, Family Access and new student enrollment configuration to name a few.
“Part of my responsibilities also include purchase order requests for Technology, where it is fun to watch innovation in the world of education. I really enjoy working with the people on our team in our district,” Annette says.
Although only in her second school year in the Byron Kibler Elementary Independent Learning Center, Covington native Amber Benson was made for it. In the years leading up to coming to ESD Amber worked with children: initially toddlers, then Pre-K, so an elementary ILC was a natural transition. While working with her students, Amber's love for what she does and who she works with shines through. “There is always something new [in the ILC] - the challenges and progress of the students. They each have so much more to offer than most people get to see!”
Being in the classroom has inspired her to return to complete her Masters Degree in Special Education, which coursework will begin in May.
“I am hoping to learn as much as I can, while I can before starting my Masters. My goal is to someday have my own ILC or Resource classroom,” Amber explains. Already having a Bachelors Degree under her belt, Amber seamlessly steps into the role of substitute teacher in her current, and other classrooms as needed.
A Masters Degree isn’t the only thing on the horizon for her, though. Amber will be getting married in July where she, her fiance and his two children spend as much time as possible - camping outdoors. They have planned an intimate forest campsite wedding to celebrate with their closest loved ones.