In the midst of an unprecedented year, Educational Service District 112 presented regional awards on behalf of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) to honor and recognize outstanding educational administrators and community members who have made extraordinary contributions to K–12 education. The Award of Merit, Student Achievement Leadership Award and Community Leadership Awards were presented virtually at a ceremony on Friday, May 21, held over Zoom.

AWARD OF MERIT – for effective leadership at the regional level

Presented to Tim Merlino, Superintendent, ESD 112

ESD 112 Superintendent Tim Merlino was nominated for and presented with the regional Award of Merit on behalf of all superintendents from the ESD 112 region. Anticipating the need for school districts across Washington to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE), Merlino and ESD 112 stepped up to help. His leadership resulted in statewide PPE procurement and distribution, benefitting over 400 public and private school districts in the state. Under Merlino’s leadership, ESD 112 acquired and helped to deliver 19 million face coverings; 840,000 pounds of sanitizing wipes; 120,000 boxes of gloves; 250,000 gowns; 80,000 gallons of sanitizer; while driving 250,000+ miles for deliveries.

Superintendent Merlino’s actions have helped to protect the safety of thousands of students and school staff. In addition to PPE acquisition, he facilitated twice weekly regional meetings among superintendents. He also supported his staff in providing help to school districts in the form of communications, human resources, and insurance programs. Tim Merlino was also a State WASA Leadership Award Nominee.

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – for innovative programs improving student achievement

Presented to Mary Beth Tack, Superintendent, Kelso School District

As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools and districts grappled with transitioning to remote learning, the Teaching and Learning team under Superintendent Tack’s leadership quickly began the process of expanding online offerings. Previously, KSD’s Kelso Virtual Academy offered online education for 8-12. By fall of 2020, KVA’s virtual learning options expanded to K-12. Students could take online classes exclusively, or blend with (then) remote classes (art, music, AVID, etc.). The anticipated value to families was confirmed when KVA enrollment jumped from 29 to 1,000 students. The district also incorporated 1:1 technology, internet cafes, and wi-fi hotspots to bolster engagement and achievement.

The 2021 WASA Award Recipients are:

Student Leadership Awards

In recognition of outstanding student leadership, this award was presented to:

  • Jaida Barrows, Kelso High School, Kelso School District
  • Amara Farah, Washougal High School, Washougal School District

Community Leadership Awards

In recognition of outstanding contributions to education, this award was presented to:

  • Camas Citizens for Quality Schools, Camas School District
  • Juan Sanchez, Citizens Advisory Committee Chair, Camas School District
  • Jay Schmidt, Vancouver Public Schools
  • Curtis Miller, Battle Ground School District
  • Olga Jane Hecomovich, White Salmon Valley School District
  • Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue, Kelso School District
  • Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management, Kelso School District

Community Leadership Awards – Health Officials

In recognition for outstanding dedication to schools throughout the pandemic, this award was presented to the following public health officials:

  • Katie Lindstrom
  • Dr. Alan Melnick
  • Dr. Steve Krager
  • Carole Harrison
  • Dr. Blaine Tolby
  • Mary Alice McCubbins
  • Melissa Kirk
  • Chris Bischoff
  • Erinn Quinn
  • Dr. Amy Person
  • Kirby Richards

Regional Retiree Recognition

  • Debra Hale, Vancouver School District
  • Loy Dale, Educational Service District 112
  • Dr. Jerry Lewis, White Salmon Valley School District
  • Mark Ross, Battle Ground School District

Twenty Years of Service Recognition

  • Dr. Jerry Lewis, White Salmon Valley School District
  • Dr. Jill Smith, Battle Ground School District
  • Dr. Mike Stromme, Vancouver School District