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ASD honors exemplary employees
ARLINGTON — Five employees of Arlington Public Schools were honored by the district’s Board of Directors Feb. 23 for their exemplary service. The honorees were selected from anonymous nominations, said the district’s spokesperson, Misti Gilman.
Those honored were Weston High School custodian Stephen Bassford, Kent Prairie Elementary music teacher Laurie Breon, Arlington High School DECA/marketing teacher Tyler Payne, Pioneer Elementary School special education resource room teacher Kimala Stewart and Haller Middle School music teacher Jeff Swanson. The employees were honored with seperate celebrations at their respective schoos prior to the board meeting, Gilman said.
Stephen Bassford would tell you he is only a custodian, but in reality he is a mentor to the students at Weston High School as well as the go-to man for all staff members. He appoints himself “greeter” for enrollment meetings and has been “employer” for numerous students in the Step-Up Program. He guides students during and after school, reminding them what is appropriate and what is not. Most recently he was instrumental in helping a student realize that his substance abuse issues were out of hand and guided the student to get help. Bassford is not just a custodian, he is part of the WHS family, according to the anonymous nomination.
Laurie Breon provides a solid music program for the students at Kent Prairie Elementary School, ensuring that her students have an opportunity to learn to perform by performing at assemblies and in-class performances. She is quick to volunteer for duties that come up when someone is absent, according to the nomination. In addition, Breon commits many extra hours to the performance group Choir on Fire, which practices three mornings a week and performs at many events outside of school, including Folklife Festival in Seattle. Her students learn music through history, keyboards, recorders and movement and dance.
The marketing teacher at AHS, Tyler Payne and his wife helped Santa’s Helpers to assist 13 families in Arlington make the holidays merrier. With the last three days of school being canceled and much of the work still to do, it looked like Santa’s Helpers would not be able to follow through with deliveries. But Payne stepped up as Santa himself to forage through the snow and purchase $1,000 worth of presents at local stores, gift wrap each present, sort thousands of pounds of food in a very chilly snowed-in school, and then drove all over the community delivering food and gifts.
What was left, Santa Payne loaded his sleigh and made one last trip to the Arlington Food Bank.
According to the nomination, the special education resource room teacher at Pioneer Elementary School, Kimala Stewart’s students like and respect Stewart because of her patience and fairness. Stewart’s students always get what they need to feel successful in the classroom and beyond. She has a great sense of humor which helps her students enjoy learning. Her collaborative nature touches not only the students and staff but also extends to families. She works with parents to address the needs of the whole child.
A music educator at Haller Middle School, Jeff Swanson is a musical genius, said the anonymous nomination. He gives students the confidence they need to show the world what they can do. His calm demeanor and abundance of patience is like a river, slowly moving forward, breaking down the walls which stand in his way and patiently working his way toward his goal of developing an excellent jazz band. Swanson encourages each student to persevere with faith they will all succeed.