“If it’s good for kids, then it’s good for us,” is a motto long-time ESD 112 Board Member Marilyn Koenninger has lived by. After 31 years of service, she is retiring from the ESD 112 Board of Directors as the longest serving board member in ESD 112 history.
“Marilyn has been a foundational leader for ESD 112,” said Tim Merlino, ESD 112 superintendent. “Her common-sense approach and tireless advocacy have served us well and she will always be a special part of the legacy of this organization.”
Throughout her tenure, Koenninger’s deep devotion to the education and overall wellbeing of Southwest Washington’s youngest learners has remained a constant. In her first year of board service, Koenninger was a part of the ESD 112 effort to establish an innovative network for providing child care called the Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium. The consortium, which was the first of its kind in the United States, began with just five programs. Today, under the new name ESD 112 Early Care & Education, the endeavor has grown to more than 40 early learning centers throughout the region.
“Marilyn has always been incredibly supportive of child care,” said Jodi Wall, executive director of ECE at ESD 112. “She has always been the one to say that if it’s good for the kids, then we need to do it. She believes in the importance of quality child care for all students, and she has been a strong leader and advocate for our programs.”
Another part of what has made serving on the ESD 112 board so meaningful for Koenninger is the trust and high regard that the board members have always held for ESD 112’s employees. She says she and other board members have always felt confident that whenever a new idea was presented, the ESD’s staff could carry it out, whether the idea was to improve or change an existing program, or implement an entirely new one.
“Serving on the board was an easy job for me in a way,” said Koenninger, “because the people who work at ESD 112 really know what they’re doing, and they do it with such passion and expertise. I admire them all.”
Koenninger leaves her board service behind with fond memories and the knowledge that she has done her part to provide comprehensive, equitable care for the youth and families of Southwest Washington.
“I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve my community in this way,” said Koenninger. “It’s been a true pleasure and honor for me.”
At the December board meeting, Koenninger was presented with ESD 112’s Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award is presented to a select few ESD 112 staff or board members who have made a significant contribution to the agency and education in the ESD 112 region. As part of the recognition accompanying the award, Koenninger’s name and tenure will be permanently engraved on the ESD 112 flag pole, which sits just outside its Vancouver office, in honor of her more than three decades of service to children within the ESD 112 region.