School and community leaders throughout Southwest Washington came together last week to celebrate honorary community leadership awards, outstanding educator awards, years of service and retirements.

The annual event drew attendees from the 30 school districts across ESD 112’s six-county region.

“Schools cannot do it alone and those in the room today reflect the huge commitment of our business and community leaders who volunteer hundreds of collective hours to help our schools thrive,” said ESD 112 superintendent Tim Merlino.

The Community Leadership awards, sponsored by the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), are presented to community members or groups to recognize their outstanding contributions to education. The recipients are nominated for providing services to students, leadership, motivation, success, partnerships with local districts, and history of service in the community.

The Golden Gavel award is presented to an individual, association or firm that has made an outstanding contribution to public education in the state of Washington. The Student Achievement Leadership Award recognizes innovative programs for the improvement of student achievement. The Award of Merit represents outstanding longtime educational leadership.

The 2019 WASA Award Recipients are:

Battle Ground School District

Mavis Nickels for her longtime service on the Battle Ground School Board, where she served on numerous committees at both the local and state level and always made decisions on “what’s best for kids.”

Ken Root for his service on the Battle Ground School Board after spending many years volunteering in the schools and community. Ken has a passion for the district’s homeless student population and is a tireless advocate for students in need.

Camas School District

Veronica Copeland for her commitment to serving students through participation on the Math Pathways Committee and District Equity Team. She currently chairs the Community Equity Board and has been instrumental in developing a district equity policy for positive change in Camas schools.

Heather and Rocky Fresh, who started the non-profit Camp Upward when they moved to Camas in 2014. The program provides students with positive summer activities and thoughtful skill building about choices and building community. The program has served nearly 300 students since its inception in Camas.

Centerville School District

Travis Gray for his dedication to volunteering for both student and staff activities at the school. Nicknamed the “assistant principal,” Travis volunteers in Centerville every Friday and serves in numerous capacities.

Lyle School District

Dye Childers, a Lyle parent and grandparent for taking on a leadership role in helping to pass the district’s recent levy, resulting in over 70% passage rate.

Educational Service District 112

Washington Green Schools for their leadership in supporting professional development in climate science as a part of the ClimeTime statewide initiative.

Bill Marcum, President, Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce, for his advocacy of Career Connected Learning for students. With Career Connected Learning as his catalyst, Bill has already created over 35 new jobs locally.

Longview School District

Longview Rotary Literacy Committee, which distributes thousands of books each year to the children of the Longview community. Their commitment to literacy matches that of the Longview Public Schools where “Literacy is the most important thing we do.”

Ridgefield School District

Georgianna Jones for her service on the district’s foundation and as campaign manager for the Citizens for Ridgefield Schools.

Scott Rose, the district’s construction manager (through R&C Management Group) for his leadership in shepherding the largest capital facilities plan in district history.

Stevenson-Carson School District

3 Squares Program for helping coordinate a program to provide meals and snacks to children in need. The program, through Shepherds of the Hills Lutheran Church, helps address hunger in the Gorge communities. Church and community volunteers pay for all expenses and manage administration of the program.

Vancouver Public Schools

Dr. Alan Melnick and the team from Clark County Public Health who led efforts to contain a fast­-spreading measles outbreak that primarily affected youth. The outbreak resulted in 850 Southwest Washington students being excluded from school.  The public health team also worked to stem the outbreak by providing education to the public about the dangers of the measles and sharing information about vaccinations.

Golden Gavel Award

Dr. Gene Sharratt for his contributions to public education over his distinguished 47-year career.  Gene has served as teacher, principal, superintendent, Associate Professor and led the Partnership for School Improvement, Washington Student Achievement Council and AESD/OSPI Network.  Beyond his professional leadership, Gene has been a positive, inspirational role model for many who serve public education today. Gene’s legacy and impact on public education will carry on through the educational organizations he served, more importantly, through all the lives that have been touched by his mentorship.

Student Achievement Leadership Award

Bill Oman, director of secondary schools for Evergreen Public Schools, for his leadership in the district’s growth of the graduation rate. Through creative programming, persistent support, and a focus on equity, EPS has improved their overall graduation rates from 80.1% (2014) to 87.5% (2018). In its hardest to serve populations, Mr. Oman and his team, have reformatted the district’s alternative high school program, increased rigor and attendance standards, and have seen student success jump from a graduation rate of 17.1% in 2014 to 57.1% for the class of 2018. Evergreen has also accelerated the rate of growth for black students 70.1% to 80.7% and Hispanic students 70.3% to 84.8%.

Award of Merit

Doug Dearden, Superintendent of Trout Lake Schools, for his dedicated leadership for equal educational opportunities and adequate funding for small schools. As a member of the WASA Legislative and Finance Committee and Chair of the WASA Small Schools Committee, Doug’s advocacy for students in our state’s smallest schools has been passionate and effective. Doug is highly respected by his peers for his insight, collaboration, transparency and commitment to providing a quality public education, especially in rural school districts.