Bethel Spirit Award Winners

The Bethel Spirit Award recognizes district employees and volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

2021-22 School Year

Barbara Minkler, Prairie Mountain

Comments from co-worker Colleen Wright and parent Brenda Martinez:

“Thank you, Barbara, for collaborating with the Prairie Mountain team on how to best support students with visual impairments. Your knowledge and expertise has led and inspired us to deliver excellent instruction. Your advocacy for students with visual impairments pushes us to do things we didn’t even know were possible. Your consultation and instruction on best practices has led to growth in both our students and staff. We thank you for your dedication to making sure that every child has an opportunity to learn, excel and shine. Colleen and Brenda.”

2020-21 School Year

Miranda Page, Willamette

Comments from student, Yasmin Zuniga-Santiago:

“Miranda Page is contentiously supporting students whether or not they are in her class. I really appreciate the genuine connections she has with many of her students. They are what make my high school experience and many others, memorable.”

Racie Escalera, Shasta

Comments from co-worker, Bonnie Colton:

“Racie is a caring, hard working person. She is the best person to work with. She deserves to be recognized!”


Rachel Gillis and Tonja Hillegass, Prairie Mountain

Comments from co-worker, Colleen Wright and parent, Brenda Martinez:

“An enormous Prairie Mountain shout out to Mrs. Gillis and Mrs. H for your collaboration this year providing optimal instruction under the most difficult circumstances. Your commitment and dedication ensures that all students are successful. Thank you for the time you spent creating and modifying curriculum as well as finding successful ways to include all students in both CDL and in person learning. You are an inspiration to our school and loved by our Prairie Mountain students and families. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Colleen and Brenda.”

Joe Freuen, Willamette

Comments from student, Broderic Gilbert:

“Mr. Freuen has stuck with the band members throughout all of COVID, checking in regularly and making sure we practice and participate as much as possible. Without him, lots of students may have dropped music. Freuen also gets the group together on Thursdays and Fridays to play for a bit. Altogether, Freuen has made going through these tough times much easier.”

Mckenzie Bryant, Prairie Mountain

Comments from co-worker, Jeanie Thibault:

“Mckenzie Bryant is a phenomenal inspirational teacher who never fails to bring out the best in her students. She praises them with her every statement and then values and inspires them with her love. Her students adore her and respond with excitement and fun. Hats off to Mckenzie!!!!”

Amy Pelki, Irving

Comments from co-worker, Ronda Hatefi:

“Amy has been at Irving for a couple years now in different roles. She has taken the time and attention to learn each new position, even coming in on off days to learn more. Whether she is doing her job or filling in at the last minute as a sub, she is ready, willing and always smiling. I appreciate her so much. I am so glad she landed at Irving, we are better because of her.”

Jaime Noack, Prairie Mountain

Comments from co-worker, Colleen Wright:

“Jaime joined RW this year to lead the Prairie Mountain family. The transition was seamless and she is a true blue eagle. Thank you, Jaime, for leading us with confidence, grace, kindness and ability. We are so lucky that the Mountain has you to inspire and lead us through this crazy, zany year.”

Alexandria Phillipe, Irving

Comments from co-worker, Nicole Butler-Hooton:

“Alex is a shining example of an educational assistant who seeks to make connections with students every day. She goes above and beyond to show an invested interest in all her students’ lives. Alex welcomes each student every day with a smile and heart of care. She has even helped walk a student home 2 days a week. I love having Alex work in our 2nd grade room and more importantly I love the authentic relationship she builds with Room 22 students.”

Krisia Zepeda, Danebo

Comments from co-worker, Sima Baldwin:

“Krisia has shown more support than I could hope for this year! She has had patience and understanding when I have done something incorrect or forgotten to put in attendance. Krisia has always been kind and caring and offered help and advice to me. Her reminders are upbeat and I never felt like she was frustrated, even when she may have been. We at Danebo are very lucky to have such an amazing office coordinator on our team!”

Jen Harris, Irving

Comments from co-worker, Ronda Hatefi:

“I have worked with Jen for 10 years, she is so incredibly dedicated, works above and beyond in every task she takes on, she cares for the students and does what is best for them every time. She has built amazing relationships with both students and staff. I have told her for years, she is the reason I enjoy coming to work every day. I appreciate her expertise, her friendship, her humor, and her constant desire to be better. Irving is blessed to have her.”

Caleb McKenzie, Malabon

Comments from co-worker, Charlotte Russell:

“Caleb shows respect to his students and in turn they respect him and each other. He models the behavior rather than lecturing it. This respect leads to an open communication classroom where learning thrives, even beyond the planned curriculum. We have learned the difference between a rabbit and a hare; what a salp is; why salt water cures minor injuries; and many other random facts just from the free flow of conversation. And, when it’s time to put away the side conversations, the students do so and are ready to learn without complaint because they know they will get an opportunity later, it isn’t the end. Caleb McKenzie truly shows that a teacher who loves teaching makes students who love learning.”

Annie Kloos, Irving

Comments from co-worker, Ronda Hatefi:

“I have been blessed to work closely with Annie this year in her 1st grade classroom. She inspires me with her work ethic, her relationship building during this crazy year and her love of teaching. She was born to be a teacher. I love the honest, straightforward way she talks to the kids. She has a great sense of humor, she is kind, gentle and firm with high expectations for each of her students. What a blessing to be here with her each day.”


Cami Railey, Danebo

Comments from co-worker, Kayla Summers:

“Cami is the best teaching partner anyone could ask for! Over the last two years she has guided, supported, and encouraged me. Though the pandemic kept us physically apart, navigating the ins and outs of CDL brought us closer. Thank you for always being a phone call away!”

Christy Perrigo, Irving

Comments from parent, Charlotte Russell:

”While being in CDL, Christy has taken the time to get to know every student. She takes the time to send birthday cards, go to soccer games, or watch competitions online so she can connect with students on their level. She has created and nurtured connections, even though she hasn’t seen them in person all year.”

Kelly Josh, Danebo

Comments from co-worker, Sima Baldwin:

“Kelly goes above and beyond for her students and coworkers. She shows up for them with a smile and a warm heart every day. All of her students know that she loves them. She has so much experience teaching reading and is always open to helping and sharing her ideas and thoughts with the team!”

Martha Humphreys, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Justin McCullough:

“I appreciate Martha’s help setting up for the National Honor Society’s Tapping Ceremony. The night wouldn’t have been as successful as it was without her. Thank you for always being there and being a friend, Martha!”

Amy Riepma-Ponciano, Danebo

Comments from co-worker, Sima Baldwin:

“Amy is like a mentor to me! She is always there to help me with a student or a group of students. If I have a question or a dilemma about reading, I know Amy will be there to help guide me in the right direction.”

Barbra Bergman, Irving

Comments from co-worker, Larisa Morris:

“Barb regularly goes above and beyond to ensure that Irving students and families receive their meals each week. She does an excellent job anticipating the needs of others and is always so thoughtful with everyone she comes into contact with. Her positive attitude and tireless work ethic are inspiring and she is always a joy to work with.”

Laura Canaday, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Justin McCullough:

“Laura is AMAZING! Laura handles all of WHS’s P-Cards, P.O.’s, and receipts; she also helps to order equipment and supplies. Laura always has a smile when she tells us good morning or afternoon. She is very much appreciated at WHS, and by the CTE staff who have to arrange large purchases with her on a regular basis. Thank you so much for all you do Laura, you are incredible!”

Yadira Flores, Liz De La Paz, Chris Martinez, and Diana Ramirez, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Justin McCullough:

“I am so grateful for these folks’ hard work. Without our amazing translation services team; we wouldn’t be able to reach as many families as we do. Thank you so much for all of your support as we reach out to students and their families. We are so lucky to have such amazing people as our coworkers! Thank you for everything you do; we see you and appreciate you!”

Patti Marshall, Transportation

Comments from Dan Hedberg, Willamette:

“For three months, WHS supported rotating cohorts of over 250 kids weekly to access limited in-person instruction. Patti and the transportation team were instrumental in making this happen! Having cohorts that changed weekly, and sometimes daily, created constant challenges for the transportation team. They rose to every challenge! Patti and the transportation team exemplify what it means to truly support young people with grace and compassion! YOU ARE AMAZING! Thank you!”

Jessica Zapata, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Joy Hatch:

“Jessica is an exemplary teacher who brings authentic kindness and a sense of humor to her students. Jessica invested 12 hours of her time (above and beyond teaching and correcting) to reach out to families and get students reconnected with online learning. Because of her efforts, she was able to get dozens of students to pass the class and re-engage with their lessons for the next semester. It is her first year at Willamette, and she is demonstrating tremendous instincts and tenacity already!”

Briana Young, Irving

Comments from co-worker, Daynette Goggin:

“This has been a challenging year for everyone. Briana has done such an amazing job of being a positive light at Irving. She is kind, understanding and so encouraging. On multiple occasions she has gone out of her way to lift her co-workers up and remind them how appreciated they are. This is who Briana is to her core and this hard time has only made her light shine brighter! Thank you Briana and please know how appreciated you are!”

Arieanna Patch, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Justin McCullough:

“Arieanna is AMAZING! Arieanna constantly goes above and beyond to help students and staff; anytime that we have a question or need help Arieanna jumps right in to see how she can help. Arieanna is kind, compassionate, a great friend, and an amazing role model for our students. Her generosity knows no limits and I am so grateful that she is on our team here at Willamette.”

Judy Tacchini, Cascade

Comments from parent, Tabatha Clocksin:

“Going above and beyond to make sure students don’t “Fall through the cracks” especially students who recently discovered they have a disability and been through tremendous hardship of three deaths in three months. She inspires them to be better.”

Ere Higbee, Fairfield

Comments from co-worker, Karen Justesen:

“Whether Ere is excelling at teaching her class online, assisting teachers in the classroom, supervising kids during recess or doing “bathroom break rotations”, she always has a positive attitude, kind words, and willingness to help out wherever she is needed. She’s an amazing teacher and were truly lucky to have her continue to be a part of the Fairfield family.”

Jennifer Greenlaw, Malabon

Comments from Rachel Davidson, Shasta:

“Jennifer has been a wonderful addition to the Bethel SLP Team! She is enthusiastic about serving her students and providing creative, engaging, and diverse activities to motivate students to progress in their speech and language goals. Jennifer is thorough and diligent in her communication with students, families, and colleagues. She graciously offers to help and volunteers to research new and exciting areas to further not only her own learning, but also the learning of her colleagues. I am so excited to see all the wonderful things she does this year, and I know that she will be well loved at Malabon!

Hannah Larson, Meadow View

Comments from co-worker, Jennifer Jones:

“Hannah has welcomed me to the speech team at Meadow View with open arms and it has been a great pleasure to work with her. She develops a warm rapport with her students and it is clear that they trust her and grow in their potential. Hannah is kind and insightful and always has her students’ interests at heart.”

Robin Henson, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Justin McCullough:

“Robin goes above and beyond to help the CTE department. She takes initiative to clean and organize the shops. Robin preps and puts together our packets to send home. She’ll help Martha by grocery shopping. Robin is awesome and we appreciate her very much in CTE!”

Sue White, Preschool Transition Coordinator

Comments from Rachel Davidson,

“Sue White is quite the extraordinaire! She wears many hats, and she wears them well! As an SLP, ASD Consultant, and Preschool Transition Coordinator (and probably more!), Sue is thorough in her work with students and families. Sue is extremely competent and humbly shares her knowledge with her colleagues. She works above and beyond to complete work of high quality and graciously will offer to help others complete highly sound work. In addition to being such a remarkable co-worker, Sue is a fantastic human being with a warm heart. Her service to Bethel students and families is admirable, as are her kindness and thoughtfulness for those around her. Sue is highly deserving of a Bethel Spirit Award – she is a phenomenal person and friend!”

MaryAnne Gates, Clear Lake

Comments from co-worker, Sue White:

“MaryAnne is the most exemplary professional imaginable. As a speech and language pathologist in Bethel for many years, she has provided the highest quality of service for students. Her support for families and staff members is remarkable. She also has been an incredible mentor for new staff, and is a compassionate leader among the speech-language pathologists districtwide. Her skills are amazing and wide ranging; her work with students in the Bethel Lifeskills program is wonderful to witness. Besides all of her fantastic work with students and staff, she is an unfailingly kind and generous friend, and I am privileged to know her. Thank you, MaryAnne, for everything you do!”

Joceline Howard, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Nick Shanks:

“Joceline has been working very hard to help make our department fun and engaging for students and staff. She has been going above and beyond in her work to help make things easier and stay super positive. Thank you!”

Jeanie Hedberg, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Nick Shanks:

“Jeanie has gone out of her way to be welcoming, helpful and supportive at school. She is continuing to create and share work that is extremely helpful for the whole department and being flexible to new ideas and strategies. Thank you!”

Jennifer Jones, Clear Lake

Comments from co-worker, Anne Bousquet:

“Jennifer is an AMAZING Speech-Language Pathology Assistant!! She has been so valuable to our team and students in our school district. Jennifer has an incredible wealth of knowledge and she is able to connect with students so well. Over the past year, Jennifer has taken on the role of helping out at several different schools across the district. Her ability to manage all of that continues to amaze me. I appreciate working with Jennifer because she has so many skills. When working with students her presence is calming and the students are so engaged when working with her. I am so thankful to have her in our school district and I only wish that I got to work with her more!”

Rachel Davidson, Irving

Comments from co-worker, Becky Goodwin:

“Rachel has worked tirelessly this fall to give students and families the best possible experience in distance learning. She is navigating a position at a new school, with all new families and is making connections and showing families, students, and staff that she cares every day. She is an enthusiastic member of the SLP team and shares creative and innovative ideas for engaging students in speech therapy. Our team and our district wouldn’t be the same without her.”

Becky Goodwin, Danebo

Comments from co-worker, Jennifer Greenlaw:

“I am incredibly appreciative of Becky and all of the behind-the-scenes work she has been doing to help the whole Bethel SLP team get ready for distance learning this year. She has gone above and beyond making spreadsheets and documents with amazing resources and activities to do over Zoom with our students. I am new to Bethel, and she has been an incredible team member so far. I look forward to working with her more!”

Aimee Lundin, Clear Lake

Comments from co-worker, MaryAnne Gates:

“Aimee goes above and beyond for her job every day. She works hard to keep a team organized preparing materials for some of our students who need them the most. She has welcomed new staff this year with warmth and support. She prepares for and works with students with enthusiasm. She is often the face of Clear Lake speech and represents our team with respect and positivity. Aimee does all of these things (and more) while maintaining a sunny disposition, a high level of flexibility and an aura of calm. Bethel is lucky to have her as a true representative of what it means to be a dedicated employee. I know I could not do my job without her and am so thankful for her.”

Sue White, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Alex Ledbetter:

“Sue has been so helpful and available to support me as a new employee to the district this fall. Sue was always there for me as I navigated new systems and got to know the proverbial ins and outs of a new position. Everyone is Bethel has been working so hard, and Sue certainly also has her own full plate of tasks to complete, but she still was always there when I had yet another question. I don’t know what I’d have done without Sue! She truly exemplifies the Bethel Spirit!”

Cameron Octon, Fairfield

Comments from co-worker, Anne Johnstone-Diaz:

“Cameron is incredibly attentive to his work. He is super friendly, a thoughtful problem solver and is always willing to go above and beyond.”

Anne Bousquet, Prairie Mountain

Comments from co-worker, LeeAnn Williamson:

“Anne is an anchor of calm, positive leadership on our speech-language pathology team. She is kind and encouraging. She is creative and thoughtful in her work. Over the years, she has been an integral part of many projects that benefit our team and the students and families whom we serve. I am blessed to call Anne a co-worker and friend.”

Alex Ledbetter, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Hannah Larson:

“Alex jumped into his position and our team right away. He is a wealth of knowledge and has been more than willing to share information, insights and ideas when I have reached out to the team. He shows an obvious enthusiasm and care for students, even ones he doesn’t yet know. It’s very exciting to have him as a part of our team and for the opportunity to learn from him.”

Clair Smith, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Justin McCullough:

“Clair is a compassionate, dedicated, hardworking, and is just an overall amazing person! She always takes time out of her busy schedule to help anyone who needs it. Clair, I’d like to thank you for your caring personality, bright smile, and endless passion for students.”

Sandi Lesh, Willamette

Comments from co-worker, Tara Roddy:

“I appreciate Sandi’s dedication in supporting the Counseling department. She has such a good attitude and will support the counseling office in any way that she is able. From managing the scheduling triage at the beginning of the semesters, to supporting the master schedule, to being the 2nd pair of eyes on seniors’ graduation requirements. Not only has she picked up additional duties in the counseling department, she has coordinated and organized the Food for Lane County Food Pantry. Sandi is there for us at every step of the way and is sooooooooooooooo responsive to the Counseling department’s needs. We appreciate you and love having you on our team!”

Jason Brooks, Prairie Mountain

Comments from co-worker, Ellie Owens:

“Jason is a wonderful EA but it’s his work with one particular student that deserves much, much praise. He has taken this young man and opened a world of opportunities to him. Thank you, Jason. You make our 4th hour a zillion times better!”

Jason Betterley & Royal Yoakum, Maintenance

Comments from Abby Wojo-Sykes, Willamette:

“A giant thank you to the Maintenance department and Jason and Royal for installing our sensory swing! Not only did they quickly install it for us, they helped us find the cheapest way to install it. Pop into our room at any point and there is almost always someone in the swing. Thank you all so much for installing it and allowing us to use the remainder of our grant money for some much needed other sensory equipment. Our classroom is very grateful!”

Sheri Coddington, Prairie Mountain

Comments from volunteer, Kathryn Young:

“Sheri’s continued dedication to student has helped countless students feel supported and successful. She works endlessly to help our students academically as well as emotionally. Beyond that she is a great co-worker and is always willing to lend a hand in our workload. Thank you Sheri!”