The Renton Chamber of Commerce held its ninth annual Ahead of the Class Excellence in Education Awards recently. The program pays homage to the crème de la crème of educators in the Renton community — and this year’s eight winners (one was a team of four) were no exception. I am an admitted sap when it comes to teachers and the subject of education in general, but last Thursday’s program really got to me on several levels.
A special round of recognition to start went to all of the businesses that rallied to support the teachers. They all deserve a shout out — the Seattle Seahawks and Blitz were there. Blitz was a hoot entertaining us! Then there were the corporate sponsors: First Savings Bank Northwest, McLendon Hardware, Marcie Maxwell and Lisa Lam, Windermere Realtors, Oil Can Henry’s and Wizards of the Coast. The Renton PTSA Council and Education Association, Puget Sound Access and Morning Star Creative also contributed to the event.
But, back to the reason for the event — the teachers. Wow. The teachers were nominated by peers, principals, parents and students.
Betsy Kavanaugh (Cascade Elementary) was a winner. She teachers English Language Learners. Students learn vocabulary with her creative approach using pictures, power point, practice with one another and repetition.
Kim Magnuson (Hazelwood Elementary) was a winner. She’s a physical education teacher who has helped our community raise $140,000 for the American Heart Association, and whose nominee said, “Her enthusiasm, energy and commitment to kids” is inspiring and contagious.
David Rolandson (Renton High School/Dimmitt Middle School) was a winner — and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after his acceptance speech. Or, at least certainly, my eyes weren’t dry. He’s a band teacher (near and dear to my heart having spent eight years in band); he recognized two people special to him — his mom and his sister — who came to see him win his award all the way from Minnesota. His “whatever-it-takes” attitude earned him the award.
Diane Wilson (Bryn Mawr) was a winner. She has a hands-on, integrated and active approach to learning.
And, finally the winning team of special-education teachers was Jane Hasson, Ellen Terry, Valerie Muirhead and Adrienne Deblasio from Benson Hill. Jane Hasson gave a moving speech. It appears she became committed to special-education students back in high school, where she was given a special assignment to help a tiny little special-ed student off of the school bus and into a little red wagon to get her around the school. The little girl worked all year long to meet a goal to walk into the school. That little girl met her goal, but decided in the end, the little red wagon was a better deal.
Thank you to all the teachers — not just these eight winners and not just the nominees — who work each day to make the lives of all little boys and girls better. In my next column, you’ll read about another kindergarten teacher, who is working with two local businesses to bring a special field trip to life! I’ll give you a hint—it’s at Costco! And, I’ll be there!
Susan Bressler is an active member of a number of Renton organizations, including Piazza Renton. E-mail her at email@example.com.