The Lake Washington PTSA (LWPTSA) Council held its annual Founders’ Day Celebration on February 26, 2021 to celebrate the 124th anniversary of National PTA. The celebration was held virtually this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Each year at the event, the LWPTSA Council recognizes individuals and organizations for their outstanding work on behalf of children and youth. Nine individuals were honored this year.
The Community Service Award recognizes someone who believes in, practices, and encourages community involvement. This year’s recipient is Kim Miller, selected for her volunteer work with Rose Hill Elementary PTSA, Girl Scouts, and Pantry Packs.
The Outstanding Advocate award goes to Nancy Colburn for her service as a longtime PTSA volunteer, a Lake Washington Schools Foundation trustee, and as founder of Eastside Parents of ADD/ADHD Kids, a support group for parents helping their children navigate the education experience.
Certificates of Special Service are given to individuals who have done an outstanding job in their role. Jackie Coons, Toby Doyle, and Renee Hesky – the Timberline Middle School Counselor Team – are this year’s recipients for their efforts to support the community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since schools closed last spring, they have collected and delivered food and other essential items, partnered with the PTSA in multi-lingual outreach to families, created the Wednesday Wolf newsletter, and partnered with neighboring schools to bring the greater community together.
This year’s first Outstanding Educator award goes to Henry David Thoreau Elementary 3rd grade teacher Caroline Amundsen for her efforts to engage, connect with, and celebrate the children in her class despite the challenges of remote learning. Additionally, she collaborated with parent volunteers, community members, and the Thoreau PTSA to guide her students through the process of becoming published writers and artists.
This year’s second Outstanding Educator award goes to Ella Baker Elementary Principal Kim Bilanko who is passionate about service learning, sustainability, changemaker curriculum, diversity and equity and is a true advocate for her students, staff, and families. Prior to remote learning, Principal Bilanko could be found working alongside teachers and students. Since the shift to remote learning, Ms. Bilanko has worked to ensure that the needs of her students and family are being met. She has also been an active participant in supporting the district’s Black community, including collaborating with other schools to start a book club focused on diversity and race inclusion and initiating a speaker and mentor program.
The Golden Acorn is presented to an individual whose outstanding service to all children in the community is above and beyond the volunteer position. This year’s recipients, Irene Neumann and Swarnima Aswinkumar, have consistently gone above and beyond during their many years of PTSA service. As part of LWPTSA Council, they kicked off the Welcome Event to reach new families in the District, received a National PTA grant for the LWPTSA Council, and work with local PTSAs on how to make their programs more inclusive.
LWPTSA Council thanks all this year’s award recipients for their time, talent, and effort in serving the children in our community. A donation to the Washington State PTA Scholarship Program is made on behalf of the recipients of these awards: Outstanding Educator, Outstanding Advocate, and Golden Acorn.
For questions please contact the Awards Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or LWPTSA Council president at email@example.com. See past Council Award recipients.