2022-2023 Employees of the Year
Amazing Staff Who Go Above & Beyond for Students
We have chosen 12 Employees of the Year that exemplify our Kent School District mission of successfully preparing all students for their futures. Learn more about each staff member, and why they were chosen by their peers as the Employee of the Year! They will be honored at the upcoming school board meeting on June 14, 2023.
Bus Driver, Transportation
Bus Drivers (Teamsters)
"Any route, any time. Whatever is needed," is Mendi's motto, and she lives it. With the shortage of bus drivers over the past several years, Mendi has volunteered to take multiple routes while still completing her own. Her willingness to do this has impacted the KSD community as a whole. She has allowed hundreds of students and staff to start and end on time simply by agreeing to go the extra mile. By doing this, Mendi also demonstrates the vast knowledge that she holds. While driving different routes at once, she shows that she knows the roads and can combine the various routes to ensure students' safe and on-time arrival. Transportation appreciates Mendi's willingness and cheerful demeanor that she brings daily to staff and students. She is an essential part of the Transportation Department, and KSD is proud to call her the Bus Driver Employee of the Year.
Central Office Administrator
Central Office Administrators (Non-Rep)
Charity makes carefully thought-out decisions based on her extensive experience, data, and care for supporting students. This shows up in all her conversations across teams. Though assessment is usually considered the end of the instructional cycle, Charity encourages using assessment data to inform other instructional decisions. Her support shines through conversations with district staff and building leaders while being an open and responsive listener. She only makes a decision with the careful engagement of stakeholders. Knowing that assessments take up instructional time, Charity is very thoughtful and listens to building leaders and staff about the impact of the assessment system on them and their students. When able, Charity adapts to help the system work for them and maximize its impact on instruction. She consistently models the best way to make decisions, engage stakeholders and team members, and asks insightful questions before making a determination. Through this lens, she is the Central Office Administrator Employee of the Year.
Basketball Coach, Mattson Middle School
Kent Association of Coaches & Extracurricular Employees (WEA)
Brian Lockhart is a highly successful boys' basketball coach, measured by various standards. He has an incredible background of basketball knowledge from both player and coaching perspectives. Although his team went undefeated this year and won the league title, that is something other than what Brian would use as a measure of success. His focus is on who his players will become as young men. He consistently discusses his athletes' futures, not just from a playing perspective. He emphasizes the intellectual development and futures that may or may not include basketball because he wants their success to transfer from the court into real-life situations. The personal philosophy he instills daily during the season can be summed up in one acronym, S.C.H.A.P.E. (Skill, Communication, Hustle, Attitude, Precision, Enhance). This philosophy encompasses developing the individual into an upstanding young man with high character. He has a demeanor and approachability that all his players respect. They go to him regularly in and out of season to seek his advice or interact with him outside of a classroom environment. He is an excellent role model for the boys and a well-respected educator and our Coaches and Extracurricular (WEA) Employee of the Year.
IT Tech Support Specialist IIIAFSCME (Information Technology)
Brian has created valuable tools for everyone in the district, including but not limited to Computer Help, TSS Toolbox used by the TSS team, and the Ajay chatbot in Teams. These apps help increase the efficiency of technical support services.” is knowledgeable and skilled in technology, patient and empathetic when working with students and teachers, resourceful and innovative in finding solutions to problems, collaborative and supportive of the needs of students and teachers and dedicated to promoting digital equity. By embodying these qualities, Brian plays a crucial role in ensuring all students have access to the technology they need to succeed in the digital age. Congratulations, Brian Smith, on being Information Technology’s Employee of the Year!
Transportation Service Person
Bus Garage Mechanics, Custodians, Nutrition Services Drivers, Maintenance, Print Shop, Warehouse Drivers (AFT)
Tino is always willing to help fellow employees whenever and wherever needed. He keeps the school bus fleet clean and free of seat damage, keeps the bus lot organized, and even picks up trash around the bus garage lot. Tino is always trying to find ways to make the bus drivers' jobs easier so they can concentrate on the students and driving. Tino shows his support to others by stepping in to drive a bus route when asked, which he did before taking on his new position. He always responds, "Yes, whatever I can do to help." He also makes it a point to know the students and will contact parents if needed. Tino brings a positive attitude and willingness to step in when and wherever needed. He is a self-starter, an asset to the Bus Garage team, and a fantastic person to work with. We are proud to call him our AFT Employee of the Year.
Executive Assistant, Teaching and Learning
Central Office & School-Based Non-Administrative/Non-Supervisory Staff (Non-Rep)
Sam has an over ten-year history of working at KSD. She has been the go-to person for the Teaching and Learning team, and her experience and knowledge have filtered down to ensure the entire team exemplifies equity and excellence in the way their department function. Sam is exceptionally bright, thoughtful, fun, and incredibly supportive of her team. She has been in charge of the Kindergarten Early Entry program for a long time and ensures that all parents are treated respectfully during the process. Sam also creates community and engages staff in the district office by sharing her incredible baking skills with everyone. She also jumped into substitute at a building when the call came for help due to substituting shortages. KSD proudly names Sam Maffei as the Non-Administrative/Non-Supervisory Staff Employee of the Year.
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support-Behavior (MTSS-B) Coach
Non-Classroom Certificated Staff (KEA)
Todd has expanded the interventions offered by student and family support services while completing his job's primary function. He currently supports students and staff in multiple school buildings and models the importance of relationships in each of them. Multiple principals have raved about how much time Todd has devoted to their school and how he supports systems for all students to thrive. Todd has also led a lot of restorative work this year by delivering training in multiple schools, along with training both paraeducators and bus drivers. In addition, he does an excellent job of building community with staff. An example is a follow-up reinforcement with paraeducators after training and an hour spent with them at their schools to help support and reinforce their learning. Todd is also the first to volunteer to support any school and is an active member of the Crisis Team for the district. Todd truly believes that our function as a district office is to support schools when needed, and he shows this through his daily work. We are proud to call Todd Wehmeyer our Non-Classroom Certificated (KEA) Employee of the Year.
Elementary Cook Manager, Glenridge Elementary
Nutrition Services (KSFSA)
Barb does more than prepare food for KSD students each day. She ensures students have access to meals of nutritional value, quickly learns about special needs among students, and works to serve them in the best way possible. She keeps the lunch line moving quickly while tracking important information and details so students have more time to enjoy their meals. Barb also supports student programs and staff needs so that students have opportunities that will teach them life skills and create lasting memories. In addition, she is an integral team member involved in running her school's Green Team program. She also helps to support students to participate in recycling and waste reduction efforts which have improved her school's environmental impact. Her vital support also allows her school to meet King County Green Schools Sustaining Level requirements. Her commitment to her students and work is why she is the Nutrition Services (KSFSA) Employee of the Year.
Office Manager, Pine Tree Elementary
Office Professionals (KAEOP)
Karin greets every child and family with the biggest smile and open heart. She participates in check-in and check-out with a student who struggles significantly with behavior, allows students to eat lunch in her office if they need extra love and attention, and even sews their clothes when they rip. She knows all students by name, reminds them of the building-wide expectations, and always cheers them on when they do something great. Karin always seems to have a good day. She is always smiling and connecting with everyone who enters the office. Karin is always the first person at work and typically the last to leave. She is flexible, a team player, and exceptionally knowledgeable concerning all office positions and responsibilities. She goes above and beyond in every situation; for these reasons, she is the Office Professionals (KAEOP) Employee of the Year.
Paraeducator, Fairwood Elementary
Kent Association of Paraeducators (KAP)
Annie puts people first. She always has a smile and a minute for everyone who enters the library and helps make it a safe place for all types of students and the staff and families we serve. She uses her time meaningfully, works seamlessly as a team with her librarian, and brings her heart into her work. Annie creates routines and plans that help efficiently tackle the day-to-day tasks while always putting our patrons first. Additionally, she works with the librarian on significant tasks that make the library a more welcoming and valuable place. With parents and staff, Annie is patient, explains procedures, and figures out ways to help them with their book and technology needs while the librarian is teaching. She also tackled and completed five major projects this year during her regular duties because she is passionate about her work, uses her time well, and prioritizes what helps students and our school. She exemplifies terrific customer service, relationship building, and assisting the library as a valuable asset to her school. Congratulations, Annie Ott, the KSD paraeducator of the year!
Principal, Crestwood Elementary
Principals or Assistant Principals (KPA)
Danielle is one of the most calm, caring, and collaborative administrators within KSD. She builds trusting relationships with her staff and students, which makes everyone better able to succeed at school. Danielle takes the time to speak to her employees instead of waiting for them to reach out to her. She is the kind of person anyone would want as their leader. Danielle is open-minded, collaborative, and cares about everyone she works with. She always asks staff for input when making big decisions and treats everyone with kindness and respect. These are a few reasons she is the Principal or Assistant Principal (KPA) Employee of the Year.
Teacher, Kentlake High School
Kent Education Association (KEA)
Our Teacher of the Year, Heather Contreras, coaching philosophy is, “make the minutes count, don’t count the minutes.” Over the years she has extended that same philosophy to her classroom throughout her 26 years of teaching. Read more about Heather Contreras earning Teacher of the Year.