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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien,WA 98166

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Gold Stars Celebrated

The Highline Schools Foundation announced the winners of the 2019 Gold Star Awards at the annual Gold Star Awards BASH on March 14. The Highline community gathered to root on the award nominees. Congratulations to all the Gold Star winners and nominees. You make us all Highline Proud! 

2019 Gold Star Award Winners

From LtoR: Kelly Morris, David Estes, Maria Santiago, Nicole Jones and Trish McGuire

Rookie Teacher of the Year - Kelly Morris

Hilltop Elementary School, First Grade

The Rookie Teacher of the Year award recognizes a teacher in Highline with three years or less of total teaching experience and who demonstrates outstanding abilities in their field early in their career.

As a third-year teacher, Kelly has turned her classroom into a student-centered community. Students are cared for deeply, and in turn, care deeply about each other and are invested in each other's social-emotional and academic development.  

"Kelly's classroom is an oasis of joy and rigorous learning. When you visit the classroom, students may be dancing because of their academic growth and accomplishment, or they may be enthusiastically reading their texts with a fervor for growing their brains evermore," said her nominator, Corbin Busby. 

Outstanding Administrator - David Estes

Puget Sound Skills Center (PSSC), Assistant Principal

The Outstanding Administrator award recognizes an individual who demonstrates exemplary work performance, outstanding leadership abilities, cooperative spirit, has a positive impact on students, and who has an extraordinary record of contributions supporting Highline.

Known as Mr. Puget Sound Skills Center, Dave brings leadership, stability and support to every program and each student at PSSC. Dave was instrumental in the building of the new Health Sciences Building.

"Without him, that building would not have been built. Everything from the planning and design phase, to the final punch-out list for the contractor, he has a hand in," said his nominator, Russell Littleton.

"Not only does Dave Estes know every student by name, strength and need, all of the students on the PSSC campus know they can approach Dave anything they need," said another nominator, Judy Gill. 

Outstanding Volunteer - Maria Santiago

Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, Family Action Committee, Strategic Planning Committee 

The Outstanding Volunteer award recognizes the amazing work that is being done in the district by parents, grandparents, friends and community members.

Maria has volunteered tirelessly in various positions as her children have grown up through Highline over the past 21 years. She has served on several PTAs, the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, Family Action Committee and Strategic Planning Committee. If there is a committee, advisory team, or activity in need of a community and family voice, Maria is always raising her hand to participate. 

Outstanding Teacher - Nicole Jones

McMicken Heights Elementary School, Second Grade

The Outstanding Teacher award recognizes an individual who demonstrates exemplary work performance, outstanding teaching abilities and a positive impact on students.

Nicole is a leader at her school. She is constantly working to ensure all student have what they need and are pushed to their highest potential.

"She is always the one who steps in and steps up," said her nominator, Wesley Smith. "She is constantly tracking data, giving students immediate feedback and using that to tailor her instruction. Nicole holds students to a very high standard, and with that, students who may have struggled in the past start to thrive in her care. She has also been a strong advocate and voice in the creation of our African-American families committee, which brings parents in and gives them an avenue to say what they believe is important to be taught in schools, how we can celebrate Black History Month authentically and how we can incorporate families of color in a way that makes them feel valued."

Outstanding Staff (Professional or Classified Support) - Trish McGuire

Raisbeck Aviation High School, Office Manager

The Outstanding Professional/Classified Staff Member award recognizes an individual who has established an extraordinary record of work performance, outstanding service, and special achievements or contribution to the district.

Trish is known as the backbone of Raisbeck Aviation High School. Not only does she know exactly what to do or where to go for any resource, supply, paperwork or need, Trish consistently dedicates her work effort to ensure students needs are met and the entire school runs smoothly.

"What impresses me the most about Trish, and why I think she is so deserving of this recognition, is that she does it all with a positive attitude, collaborative spirit, and with the utmost integrity. Any staff member knows they can text her, call her or see her in person, and she will make you feel as if you are the only one who matters," said her nominator, Therese Tipton. 

Outstanding Alumnus - Adam Smith

Tyee High School, Class of 1983, Congressman

The Outstanding Alumnus award recognizes an individual who maintains a strong tie with the local community and is a strong supporter of Highline Public Schools.

Rep. Smith authored legislation to secure noise mitigation funds for Highline schools that were recently deemed ineligible for funding. The legislation makes Highline eligible for over $18 million in FAA and Port funds for Des Moines Elementary School and Highline High School. A 2002 agreement between the Port of Seattle, the Federal Aviation Administration and Highline Public Schools committed federal funding for noise mitigation for fifteen schools. Noise mitigation is installed as schools are rebuilt. Since the agreement was signed, the noise contours around the airport changed, leaving remaining schools in areas where the FAA could not legally provide mitigation despite the prior agreement. Rep. Smith—ranking Member of the House Armed Service Committee and a Highline alumnus—crafted the legislation as an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law at the end of August 2018.

“We are grateful for Rep. Smith’s advocacy on behalf of our schools. Our community is counting on this funding so we can provide our students with classrooms that are free from interruptions from aircraft noise," said Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield.