Photos by Eric Mathison
Claire Waistell, Sylvester Middle School band and leadership teacher, was named Highline Public Schools Teacher of the Year at the annual Highline Schools Foundation Gold Star Breakfast, held Friday, April 18 at SeaTac’s Cedarbrook Lodge.

Award Winners Honored at Highline Schools Gold Star Breakfast

The 2014 Highline Schools Foundation Gold Star winners were honored at the annual Gold Star Awards Breakfast on April 18. The breakfast is the largest fundraiser supporting the Foundation. Money raised supports our 19,000 students through grants, scholarships, and special programs in Highline schools.

The 2014 Highline Schools Foundation Gold Star Award Winners are:

Outstanding Teacher
Claire Waistell, Teacher – Band/Leadership, Sylvester Middle School

Claire has been a teacher at Sylvester Middle School for 16 years, where she has taught science, leadership, and band. She was one of our district’s first teachers to earn her National Board Certification, and has gone on to teach classes and support many National Board candidates since then.

Claire is passionate about empowering students to reach their full potential; teaching acceptance and compassion for others through acts of kindness, understanding, and philanthropy; and sharing her knowledge, skills, and conviction through leadership.

"Claire is a wonderful, caring human being. Quick to laugh and smile, she finds humor and delight in the quirkiness of her middle school students," said Sylvester Principal Vicki Fisher. "She cheers when they succeed and cries when they are hurt. She advocates for the underdog. She is joyous about the smallest of victories of her students or colleagues.”

Claire will represent Highline Public Schools as its nominee for Washinton State Teacher of the Year.

Outstanding Classified or Professional Staff
Linda Simpier, Special Programs Manager, Transportation

Linda Simpier was hired as a substitute bus driver for Highline in 1991. It was not long before people noticed the magic that Linda would bring to work every day. Students felt comfortable and safe while they rode her bus, knowing that Linda truly cares not only about their daily safety but also assuring each student has the same opportunity for a successful future. Knowing each student by name, strength, and need was happening on Linda's bus in 1991, some 20+ years before that mantra was made into Highline’s promise to our community.

Now 24 years after Linda came to Highline she still puts in the extra effort (and many extra hours) to make sure all of the students she reaches, and staff members she works with, know that she believes all of us can be successful and enjoy happy and productive lives.

Outstanding Administrator
Karin Jones, Principal, McMicken Heights Elementary School

Karin Jones stands apart as a leader in Highline. She has a high level of commitment, passion, and professionalism and is known as a highly-effective principal. It is not these qualities alone that make her exceptional. It is the human element-- the true caring that she shows to her students, her staff, and her community. Karin is respected as a person who will lead by example and who inspires others to push their level of professionalism to new heights.

Outstanding Alumnus
Ray Connor, President and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Ray Conner is vice chairman of The Boeing Company and President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He serves as Boeing’s Senior Executive in the Pacific Northwest.

Mr. Connerattended Highline High School from 1970-1973. He played football at Highline and was named to the All-Conference Team as an offensive lineman. Before Highline, he attended Sylvester Junior High and Lakeview Elementary School. He continued his academic and football career at Whitworth and Central Washington University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He earned his MBA from the University of Puget Sound.

Outstanding Volunteers
Cheryl Forbes, Linda Elmore, Fuki Masuzawa, Cherie Trondson, Bow Lake Elementary School

These four visionary women have banded together to become the power and the heart of Bow Lake Elementary! At a school where parent involvement is a challenge, these four ladies make up the work of forty with everything they accomplish.

They plan, organize, and oversee just about everything at Bow Lake outside of the curriculum, including schoolwide events like movie nights, open houses, and dances, plus fundraisers, art projects, tutoring, teacher errands, chaperoning on field trips, and so much more.

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