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Sylvester Middle School
16222 Sylvester Road SW Burien, WA 98166

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Highline Teachers Shine Extra Bright During Teacher Appreciation Week

Highline Teachers Shine Extra Bright During Teacher Appreciation Week

Educators have never had to adapt like they have this year, creating new ways to engage students and families. Highline teachers made an overnight transition to a distance learning model, showing our community their best qualities: innovation, perseverance, tenacity, care and commitment. 

While we are grateful for our teachers 365 days a year, this week we are especially thankful for their extraordinarily hard work. In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, we are shining a spotlight on teachers who won and were nominated for a Gold Star award through the Highline Schools Foundation. 

2020 Outstanding Teacher of the Year

Joseph Boyer, Evergreen High School

"Joe Boyer has been an outstanding teacher since he first started at Evergreen five years ago. Joe is committed to education in every sense of the word. He believes that education is the only way in which we can affect change and he preaches this to his students daily. He has an unwavering dedication to student success. Joe also has a special gift of making each student feel heard, valued, and builds trusting relationships so that he can push them to excellence. He leverages his relationships with students to not only push for excellence but also helps students find their passion and goals for life so that students have choices for higher education. Joe Boyer truly embodies the Highline Promise." - Sarah Grant, Assistant Principal 

Joe Boyer

Joe spoke at the graduation ceremony for Evergreen High School in 2019. He spoke about the message he shares with students at the end of every class period: Be kind. Be wise. Be gone. Go forth. Share your talents with the world. Watch his speech online.

2020 Rookie Teacher of the Year

Alejandra Rodas-Vasco, Hilltop Elementary School

"Alejandra Rodas-Vasco is the outstanding rookie teacher of the year because each day she pulls guidance and strength from the Highline Public School's foundation to embody excellence that supports students and makes our district a better and brighter place. Relationships are truly a strength with Alejandra. She permeates joy. This joy is palpable when you are in conversation with her, and when you enter her classroom. She builds relationships with ease and intentionally cultivates trust. Alejandra is deeply committed to building a classroom community where every student feels seen, valued, and heard. She thinks intentionally about how to incorporate equity in her classroom by having students learn about their own identities and the identities of others and to see our differences as something to celebrate. As a teacher, Alejandra leads with equity in her classroom." - Corbin Busby, Assistant Principal

Alejandra Rodas-Vasco

2020 Nominees

Elle Harris, Southern Heights Elementary School

"Elle Harris is an outstanding teacher. She is an equity warrior in everything she does. She puts kids first and works to ensure their success. She spends hours of her time, planning engaging lessons and helps kids become advocates for themselves and their learning." - Anne Crochet, Dean of Students

Elle Harris

Tucker Rockwell, Sylvester Middle School

"Tucker Rockwell (shown here cooking a pancake breakfast for his students) is a very dedicated teacher. He is not only very clear with the students about his expectations but also goes out of his way to effectively communicate with the parents/guardians. He truly cares about his students and wants them to learn and be successful." - Jill Carroll, Parent

Tucker Rockwell

Alejandra Silva-Avendano, Pacific Middle School

"Alejandra Silva-Avendano epitomizes the heart of teaching. She has taken complete ownership of Highline's promise. All of her energies focus on student growth - academic, social and emotional. Her presence at our school has proven so invaluable, it is truly hard to believe that she has been teaching only a few short months." - Michelle Thomas, Teacher

Alejandra Silva-Avendano

Carolyn Hylander, Hilltop Elementary School

"Carrie is committed to her students learning every single day. Carrie ensures the Highline Promise by the academic growth that she supports students in achieving. She has created differentiated plans for each student so that each student can be successful in her classroom." - Corbin Busby, Assistant Principal

Carolyn Hylander

Kelsey Roehner, White Center Heights Elementary School

"Kelsey Roehner is a brilliant, compassionate, effective teacher. She builds meaningful connections with students and families. She works every day to create and maintain a classroom environment that fosters learning, respect, community, and engagement." - Sarah Fox, Parent

Kelsey Roehner


Aaron Aker, North Hill Elementary School

"Aaron makes learning fun and keeps it fun by utilizing technology the students love. During conferences, Mr. Aker had stations set up around the classroom. Each station gave a prompt for students to show off their work. At the end, he emphasized the progress students made and what they were doing well." - Jaime DeLong, Parent

Aaron Aker

Lisa McMullen, Des Moines Elementary School

"Lisa McMullen goes above and beyond to help her students. She is an all-around amazing teacher and a good role model. You can tell she enjoys her job and cares about all her students." - Tata Rinaldi, Parent

Lisa McMullen

Abby Hric, Hazely Valley Elementary School

"Abby Hric is amazing at teaching music at our student's varied levels of development. She knows all of her students by name, strength and need and it is evident in her teaching! She always has a positive attitude and seeks to have positive relationships with all her students." - Barbara Bennett, Paraeducator

Abigail Hric

Tina Chang, Highline High School

"Tina Chang knows all her students by name, strength and need! She is dedicated to ensuring all her students succeed--beyond just her class. Students love her because they know that she truly cares about them not only as students but as people." - Keegan Ryan, Success Dean

Tina Chang

Josielma Hodge, Chinook Middle School

"Josi Hodge brings passion, commitment and strong leadership to Chinook. Students and families know Ms. Hodge is committed to every student’s success. Her students share genuine excitement for learning in her classroom. Lessons are designed to promote student voice and choice. Students regularly engage in discussions that are personal to our middle school students." - Karin Jones, Principal

Josielma Hodge

Chris Rothrock, Midway Elementary School

"Chris Rothrock is ALWAYS there for any student that needs someone to talk, to listen, or to learn. His drive to be a positive influence and role model to all students is inspiring! Chris will do whatever he can to make sure students get what they need to be successful." - Jenny Horstman, Teacher

Chris Rothrock

Brooke Selling, Seahurst Elementary School

"Brooke Selling ensures the Highline Promise by putting students' needs first. She understands that she can't meet the social and academic needs without first developing positive, trust-filled relationships with her students. Brooke takes time to get to know what the students are good at and what they enjoy so that she can leverage that in helping to make them successful." - Tory Walker, Teacher

Brooke Selling

Jessica Ingersoll, Madrona Elementary School

"In everything Jessica Ingersoll does, she does it through the lens of equity with a strong emphasis on culturally responsive teaching. She goes out of her way to get to know families and celebrate each of her students’ strengths. She views her relationship with students and families as a partnership." - Cynthia Hamar, Instructional Specialist

Jessica Ingersoll

Cimberlee Hanson, Hilltop Elementary School

"Cim Hanson is very dedicated to making a difference in her Physical Education program. She teaches students the importance of teamwork, cooperation and sportsmanship. Cim insists everyone is a team and that students work together for a common goal." - Heidi Jacobson, Teacher

Cimberlee Hanson

Carlie Granda, Marvista Elementary School

"Carlie Granda has developed deep and meaningful relationships with some of our students who struggle the most. She knows her students and their learning needs very well and always stays focused on what is best for the students. She is also pushing students to have a growth mindset and not feel defeated when they hit roadblocks in their learning." - Melissa Pointer, Principal

Carlie Granda

Stephanie Kuborssy, Glacier Middle School

"Stephanie Kuborssy works tirelessly to teach music in a disciplined yet exciting manner--these kids and we are all the better for it. Stephanie often talks about individual students and what they need, as well as putting together plans to meet those needs. She cares deeply about their well-being, and advocates for them often." - Christina Konze, Teacher

Stephanie Kuborssy

Jordan Reni, White Center Heights Elementary School

"Thank you, Ms. Reni, for being one of the best teachers in the world. Because I had you as a teacher this year, I was able to have one of the best teachers in the world TWICE in a row! I will always remember you because you are one of the best teachers in the world, and I want you to know that the whole class loves you a lot!" - Maia Scott, Student

Jordan Reni

Chloe Swain, Seahurst Elementary School

"Whether she is considering students' language needs or social-emotional needs, Chloe Swain always centers the students as the beginning and end of her work and priorities. She is realistic about students' needs and celebrates their strengths. Her students are fortunate to have her supporting them this year!" - Troy Walker, Teacher

Chloe Swain

Jennifer Ferry, Southern Heights Elementary

"Jennifer Ferry goes above and beyond for the students and staff at Southern Heights. Jennifer is our librarian, HEA representative, school leadership team member and PTA membership chair. She also has students in the library before school, at lunch and recesses. She cares deeply about her students." - Melanie Terhune, Office Assistant

Jennifer Ferry

Jules Boisen, Pacific Middle School

"Jules knows each of her students' strengths and needs both academic and personal. Students know she provides a safe place for them to be themselves and to get the help they need. Even students who do not have her for a teacher know they can go to her for support and help." - Darla Stremel Hays, Teacher

Jules Boisen

Jennifer Walsh, McMicken Heights Elementary School

"Jennifer Walsh ensures that the Highline Promise is kept by seeking input and voice from every single student. She invites students into her classroom for lunch groups and for relationship-building at recesses. She also volunteers in after-school programs so there are activities available for students to pursue their interests." - Christina Fritsch, SEL Dean

Jennifer Walsh

Paula Escher, Des Moines Elementary

"Paula Escher is the kindest, most giving, understanding teacher. She goes above and beyond for every student she comes across. She volunteers often and involves students.  A couple of years ago she took her whole class to volunteer at the community food bank." - Michelle Seifert, Parent

Paula Escher

Kristin Wesp, Mount Rainier High School

"Kristin Wesp is completely dedicated to her students. She is keenly aware of her students' strengths and passions and skillfully organizes their learning experiences around them." - Sharon Schmitt, Assistant Principal 

Kristin Wesp

Lori Bento, Marvista Elementary School

"Lori Bento shows compassion and genuine interest in getting to know each student and celebrating their differences. She is successful at offering lessons and differentiation to meet their specific learning needs. She values the relationships with students and families and collaborates to help them achieve their potential."- Adrienne Lentz, Reading Interventionist

Lori Bento

Markas Groves, Mount Rainier High School

"Markas Groves sees a need and dives into action! It is one thing to know of a need, it takes more to do something about that need!  He goes out of his way to help without drawing any attention to himself, and not expecting anything in return." - Jolly Meloottu, Teacher

Markas Grove

Emily Zimmerman, Evergreen High School

"Emily Zimmerman devotes every moment of her life to Evergreen High School. As the leadership teacher, she focuses on getting students involved in the community by hosting a fall festival during Halloween, donating clothes to give to students for free, and collecting food for needy Evergreen families during the holidays. As the athletic director, she oversees the whole athletic community at Evergreen, ensuring all students are ready to participate and ready to gain skills needed to be productive citizens." - Tiffany Spencer, Success Dean

Emily Zimmerman

Rebecca Androes, Valley View Early Learning Center

"Rebecca Androes is a standard of caring and highly skilled teaching. She consistently demonstrates her understanding of Highline's promise by displaying a deep level of care for each child while also demonstrating love for the collective group. She is never satisfied with mediocre, always challenging herself and her students to the highest levels of achievement." - Whitney Sanders, Teacher

Rebecca Andtoes

Sandy Gady, Pacific Middle School

"Sandy Gady is simply an outstanding teacher. She believes a student's success is paramount and gives her students every opportunity to excel. Due to her unwavering high expectations, when students complete all steps of a project well, they learn that tenacity and a positive work ethic will lead to great accomplishments." - Schell Ross, Teacher

Sandy Gady

Sarah Furstenberg, Bow Lake Elementary School

"Sarah Furstenberg is a true warrior for her students. She knows exactly how to assist each student and draws on many strategies when working to refocus a student. She also knows right where each student is in their academic progress, the growth they are making, if their goals need adjusting, and next steps." - Karissa McDowell, Instructional Specialist

Sarah Furstenberg

Angie Erdman, Big Picture School

"Angie Erdman listens to each of her students' needs through class meetings. She takes every one of our needs and wants and keeps them in mind when she designs our spaces and tools. She encourages and uplifts our community through joy and comfort." - Michael Townsend, Student

Angie Erdman