North Central ESD recently honored the 2018 Friends of Children and 2018 Regional School Board of the Year. They were recognized at the North Central Educational Service District’s 13th annual Friend of Children/Regional Board of the Year banquet, May 10, at North Central ESD. These awards are the highest honor given annually by the ESD to educators and community members who have exemplified a lasting commitment to children in north central Washington.

The Okanogan School District Board of Directors was selected as 2018 Regional Board of the Year. Superintendent Richard Johnson nominated the Okanogan Board and said,

“Without the school board and the district administration working together as a team . . . the successes … would not have occurred. Success requires trust and respect. Okanogan School District is fortunate to have a board and an administration team that work together, no matter how much or how fast ‘stuff’ is coming down the line. Our patrons expect and deserve nothing less.”

Criteria for the Regional School Board of the Year award includes improvement of student learning, vision and leadership, teamwork, experiences of benefit to other school boards, and a thoughtful implementation plan.

Superintendent Paul Turner from Grand Coulee Dam nominated Lake Roosevelt Elementary volunteer Fern Blaylock for the Friend of Children award. In his nomination he wrote,

“Fern is often quoted saying we must be ‘Showing the way.’ Fern has always been the one showing students the way. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition than Fern.”

John Prescott from Cashmere was nominated by Superintendent Glenn Johnson, Cashmere School District because, of his volunteer work for Cashmere Cares, the Mission Creek Community Club and the Vale Elementary Community Volunteer group. In his nomination Superintendent Johnson wrote,

“It is people, not programs that make the difference. John Prescott is one such person who has made a difference in the lives of students … he has the biggest heart for these kids, especially those who are the neediest.”

Principal Jon Abbott from Kenroy Elementary, Eastmont School District, nominated Maria Barnes, PTO Treasurer, for the Friend of Children award for her work in the Kenroy PTO the past 14 years. Jon said,

“In my 23 years of service in public education, I have never seen another volunteer so consistently make such a difference in supporting a school in their mission of educating our youth.”

Friend of Children Award Winner Howard Lane, Waterville, was nominated by Superintendent Cathi Nelson, Waterville School District. Superintendent Nelson commented, “Howard Lane is a true ‘friend of children’ … His unselfish commitment to our community of learners truly inspires each of us to find little ways to make a difference in the life of a child that we may not have thought of before Howard began his work here … watching our students thrive under his mentorship and tutoring continues to inspire us to find our ‘greatness’ too.”

Travis Farrar, director of the Chelan Teen Center, was nominated by Lake Chelan Superintendent Barry DePaoli. Superintendent DePaoli stated,” Travis’ passion for reaching out to and building relationships with youth and at-risk teens, in particular, has had a positive ‘ripple effect’ in our community for almost 20 years … imagine willingly giving up every Friday and Saturday evening for the better part of two decades to provide a safe place for teens to socialize … Travis continues to support and positively influence the youth of our valley.”

Winners of the School Board of the Year and Friends of Children Awards receive an engraved plaque and join a list of prestigious winners accumulated over the past 27 years. The ESD serves 29 school districts and over 38,000 students in the four counties of Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan.

The Friend of Children award, later renamed the “Gene Sharratt Friend of Children Award,” was created in 1992 to recognize outstanding volunteers in the communities represented by the districts within North Central ESD’s four-county region. Award winners have made extraordinary contributions to local schools, not for the fame or the notoriety, but because that is just simply who they are – “Givers” in the truest sense of the word. Nominations came from local superintendents and administrators who wished to honor the best among the best in their districts and communities. They nominated those who serve unselfishly, without wish for fame, giving willingly to make a better school and a better community.