The Humboldt County School District School Board hold "Celebrations" at their board meetings in order to recognize HCSD employees that have made a difference.

May 8, 2018

School Board Celebrates Kay Eason

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

The Humboldt County School District Board of Trustees celebrated Grass Valley Elementary School speech pathologist Kay Eason during the May 8 meeting. Eason, who has worked in the district’s Pre-Kindergarten program, will retire at the end of this school year.

In a letter of commendation, DeAnna Owens described Eason as “a leader in her field.” Eason has mentored speech pathologists and “currently reviews every service provided by other pathologists in the district.”

“Kay is one who steps up when others need support. She can identify a problem and steps in, sacrificing her own needs to benefit others, including kids and staff,” Owens wrote.

Eason intended to retire at the end of last school year, but delayed retirement in order to support a new employee in the district needing input from a language and speech pathologist for her internship.

“I’ll always think of her as the lady who schools me on speech pathology. She loves her profession and makes sure those around her are aware of the rules of the game” Owens continued. She explained later in the meeting that her own background was in Special Education, and Eason taught her quite a lot about speech pathology.

Superintendent Dave Jensen said, “I’ve always been impressed by Kay’s passion. Any time there’s a student that needs that support, Kay is there. Her thoughtfulness, her dedication to the field shows in everything that she does.”

K. Eason

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Kay Eason

April 24, 2018

School Board Celebrates Chelsea Cabatbat

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

The school board recognized Transition Specialist Chelsea Cabatbat during the April 24 meeting. As Transitional Specialist, Cabatbat acts as case manager for students with special needs as well as helping these students develop life and work skills to transition to life after school.

District Director of Educational Opportunity DeAnna Owens said, "When I think about our mission and our vision here...both of them mention success and college and career ready. Chelsea’s one of our folks that makes that happen.”

"Chelsea Cabatbat is new to her position as Transition Specialist for Lowry High. She has made phenomenal progress in this role," Owens said.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 requires schools to coordinate with Vocational Rehabilitation offices for the county and the state. Vocational Rehabilitation pairs people with special needs with participating employers, as well as other services to support them in their jobs. "Chelsea has been the liaison for HCSD and has worked collaboratively across the state to begin better meeting the work skill needs of students transitioning into the workforce," Owens said.

Cabatbat helps students in Study Skills classes learn self-advocacy, self-determination and career development that will help them succeed in life and in the workforce. She also compiles a binder for each student in special education at the high school to guide and track the student's transition progress.

"Chelsea is there for kids while they are here in our district and she is committed to ensuring they are ready for the workforce or college after graduation," Owens said, adding that Cabatbat "is really a shining star!"

C. Cabatbat

Board of Trustees President Braginton, Chelsea Cabatbat, and her son, Txendoa

April 10, 2018

School Board Celebrates Ronda Havens

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

With the start of the new budget season getting underway, HCSD superintendent Dave Jensen said he wanted to recognize the efforts and support of Ronda Havens from the district finance department during the April 10 board meeting.

And she thought she was only there to help present the new tentative budget.

"Ronda...spends an inordinate amount of time on behalf of Humboldt County School District," Superintendent Dave Jensen said. "The time and efforts that she puts in – I know she's here late nights, she's in here weekends, she's here over holidays – and that's because she cares about our district."

"She has a grasp and an understanding of what's happening in our district that no one else can match," he continued. "And because of that, I've relied very, very heavily on Ronda. When I authorize expenditures that Dawn asks, she kicks me in the shin and says 'knock it off,'" he joked.

"She really has a very strong pulse on what's happening in our school district. And at any time I can go to her and say 'I need to talk about this,' and immediately she can provide the answer and we're able to come up with some decisions that benefit the district. I consider her a personal friend. It's been a privilege to work with her and to watch her grow over the years that she's been with the district, and I told her she can't retire until I do."

Assistant Superintendent Dawn Hagness said, "We are so grateful for everything you do to save all of us. To help all of us. Because we all go to Ronda. If we need something, that's who we go to immediately. She has the answer. She knows how to support out principals, too, and she knows who to go to if they need guidance and support. The sheer amount of work because of grants in the last two years. "There hasn't been anyone extra in that department. Ronda has taken that load on and tried to help train new people in the process."

"She's always positive, always willing to drop anything and just be there for you if you need something, Hagness continued. "None of us could do our jobs if it wasn't for you being the person that you are."

C. Havens

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Ronda Havens

March 27, 2018

School Board Celebrates Julie Woods

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

Members of the Humboldt County School District Board of Trustees celebrated long term substitute Julie Woods at the March 27 school board meeting. Woods has spent four of the last five years leading the Comprehensive Life Skills (CLS) class at Sonoma Height Elementary School (SHES). She has decided this will be her last year as a substitute teacher.

CLS classrooms are part of special education and focus on teaching skills necessary for day-to-day life.

Assistant Superintendent Dawn Hagness said the district "couldn't be more blessed" with Woods, a "strong and talented educator" who excels in "a very challenging position."

"Anyone would think she's a certified teacher," Hagness said, adding that she has often encouraged Woods to certify as a classroom teacher. Hagness said Woods always refuses, though, saying "that's not why I do this."

"We want her to know before she goes how much she is appreciated," Hagness said.

A letter of commendation from SHES written by Lisa Weber and Dan LaRose praises Woods as "truly a strong and talented educator, as evidenced by her proficiency and her ability to meet the individual needs of students in the CLS classroom."

Woods has a "natural ability to succeed in a classroom setting," the letter continued, and "clearly understands the needs of her students."

"Helping children reach their highest potential and achieve their personal best is a high expectation that she has set for herself."

"Mrs. Woods genuinely cares for each and every student. It is an honor and privilege to have worked alongside such a dedicated educator," the letter added.

Julie Woods

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Julie Woods

March 13, 2018

School Board Celebrates Andy Herrera

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

The Humboldt County School District Board of Trustees continued its recently initiated tradition by recognizing maintenance department employee Andy Herrera during the March 13 regular meeting.

"Continually, anywhere I go throughout the district, when people mention Andy Herrera, they mention his smile, they mention his laugh, and they mention the fact that he's a hard worker, willing to do anything for anybody at any time. And that's something we really appreciate," said Superintendent Dave Jensen.

"We just wanted to recognize Andy, and make sure he knows how much we appreciate him, specifically all that he does for the district."

Assistant Superintendent Dawn Hagness agreed. "There's not a time where you can't walk by him, whether he's in the middle of a crisis with a pipe, or he's running off to take care of something else, he will always smile, he will wave if you're driving down the road. He always checks in with everybody and wants to know how they are."

Other district employees expressed their appreciation of Herrera's willingness to do whatever is needed, Hagness added. "They always know that there is someone taking care of them, and that he's not just going to do the one work order on the job. He's going to make sure if there's anything little, he can get the job done and not come back for another trip when someone happens to put in the work order."

"Andy exemplifies everything that Humboldt County School District Maintenance Department says are their team values, and tonight he deserves to be recognized for that, and more," Hagness said.

A. Herrera

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Andy Herrera

February 13, 2018

School Board Celebrates Lisa Evatz

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

The school board recognized the efforts and talents of Lisa Evatz during the Feb. 13 meeting. Evatz is a counselor at Winnemucca Grammar School.

Evatz and other Humboldt County School District counselors developed a crisis response protocol used throughout the district. Recently, Evatz helped organize district-wide support after the sudden loss of Grass Valley Elementary School learning strategist Robbie Campbell.

“In times of crisis, including staff or student death, Lisa is immediately called to provide critical counseling supports for both students and staff,” Superintendent Dave Jensen said.

“Any time in the district that we find ourselves in the position to need outreach to support staff, students or parents, Lisa is the first person I turn to. She has a phenomenal feel for...this type of a process.”

Jensen added that Evatz brings “a level of ease to the most difficult circumstances.”

“Lisa always makes herself immediately available and seeks opportunities to support staff and students throughout the district. It is a pleasure to work with Lisa and I value the insight and expertise that she brings to the position of counselor,” Jensen said.

“She is an outstanding counselor and an individual who makes a difference in Humboldt County School District.”

Ms. Evatz

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Lisa Evatz

January 23, 2018

School Board Celebrates Noel Morton

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

Ms. Morton

Superintendent Dr. David Jensen, Noel Morton, and Board Member Nicole Bengochea

The Humboldt County School District (HCSD) Board of Trustees recognized School Performance Director Noel Morton for her hard work and dedication to helping students succeed.

Morton received the Central Office Professional-Technical Administrator of the Year award from the Nevada Association of School Administrators. She also received the award for District Level Administrator Impacting Student Achievement from the Nevada Association of School Boards in November.

Morton played an integral part in the district’s efforts to improve achievement at some of its lower-performing schools. Her contributions included developing computer programs to track student progress and leading focus group discussions with administrators, teachers and students.

“[Noel’s] passion, her understanding of curriculum and instruction her ability to lead, guide and motivate is exactly what we needed,” Superintendent Dave Jensen said. “Over this past three-and-a-half years she has had a profound impact on McDermitt Combined Schools. She’s also worked with the junior high and French Ford (Middle School).”

“I know from both Dawn’s and my perspective we couldn’t imagine our central office without having her leadership, her insight and what she brings as value to our group,” Jensen continued. “We’re fortunate to have somebody like Noel in our district.”

Assistant Superintendent Dawn Hagness said, “I don’t know if there’s anyone on our cabinet or administrative level who can engage in the type of conversations that Noel has.” She explained that Morton can talk to parents about helping students at home, she can advise administrators and engage in collaborative meetings with teachers.

“I feel like we’re very fortunate to have someone who is very well-rounded and brings an HR perspective, but can tie it all together and sit in our cabinet meetings and challenge us and push us every day and ask the questions to make sure we’re making the best decision in the interest of the kids,” Hagness said.

January 9, 2018

School Board Celebrates Grammar School Superstars

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

Ms. Seidlitz
Ms. Stevenson

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Lori Seidlitz

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Rhonda Stevenson

The Humboldt County School District Board of Trustees continued its new tradition of celebrating outstanding teachers and employees during the Jan. 9 meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Dawn Hagness identified two Winnemucca Grammar School (WGS) teachers who have had a significant impact on student learning: Kindergarten teacher Rhonda Stevenson and Fourth Grade teacher Lori Seidlitz. WGS Principal Jonathan Reynolds attended to show his support.

Hagness said Stevenson embraced her role of helping Kindergarten students learn to write. She would invite administrators and teachers into her classroom, saying “My kids are writing! Look what my Kindergarten kids are doing!”

When Stevenson learned that the district wanted to purchase the Fountas and Pinnell reading materials, she told Principal Reynolds, “This is what I’ve been waiting for my entire career. I would have given anything, and this is what I wanted.” She said she could finally teach the way she always wanted to teach.

Hagness said Stevenson wasn’t afraid to tell anyone how excited she was about the materials. “You can see it in her classroom,” Hagness said, adding that the classroom’s energy on the first day Stevenson used the new materials gave her goosebumps.

“Rhonda, I can’t thank you enough for your commitment to Winnemucca Grammar School, to your Kindergarten kids every year, your teaching staff – because that energy is very important – and what you bring to the entire district because of that.”

Lori Seidlitz helped implement a new math program. Once Hagness convinced Seidlitz that she was the right person for the job, “Lori was so thoroughly involved in every bit of that, and wasn’t afraid to say ‘Come into my classroom and see it working.’”

“Once she commits, she's all in,” Hagness said. “And her kids are all in.” She explained that Seidlitz develops the classroom environment that fosters success and cooperation very early in the school year. “Lori has the talent to develop that in her students, and very early on.”

She has a very open classroom, inviting teachers and administrators from across the district. And she always asks for feedback so she can continue to grow and improve.

“Not only has she helped Humboldt County in this way, she’s been asked across the region to have other teachers from other districts come into her classroom to see what’s going on,” Hagness continued.

“I always love the opportunity to go in. I’m challenged in that room, and I appreciate the enthusiasm and the ability that she is able to pull out of kids. And her test scores reflect what she does every day with her kids.

“Lori Seidlitz, congratulations and thank you for what you do for Winnemucca Grammar School, Humboldt County and teachers across the region.”

November 28, 2017

School Board Celebrates Janhunen and Johnson

By Shanna Cummings

The Humboldt Sun

Ms. Janhunen
Ms. Johnson

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Gail Janhunen

Board of Trustees President Braginton and Marcel Johnson

For the first celebration, the board recognized Gail Janhunen and Marcel Johnson.

Janhunen has worn many hats in the school district over the past 25 years, including classroom teacher, Literacy Specialist, Learning Strategist, Dyslexia Specialist, Family Engagement Coordinator, CLIMBS (Content and Language Integration as a Means of Bridging Success) Trainer and Educator Effectiveness Coordinator.

Leslie Molina described Janhunen as “visionary in implementing evidence-based instructional strategies” throughout the school district.

About Janhunen, Winnemucca Grammar School Fourth Grade teacher Tava Dennis wrote, “her mentorship has been more beneficial than any college course because she built a relationship with me and my students.” Dennis also said that Janhunen taught her “to give the students something to be proud of. In turn, she gave me something to be proud of.”

The board celebrated Marcel Johnson as School District Employee Making a Difference. Johnson currently leads the credit remediation and recovery program at Lowry High School. The program offers computer-assisted instructional programs to students at risk of not graduating due to credit deficiencies. During the 2015-2016 school year, Johnson helped 89 credit-deficient seniors catch up to graduate with their class. She did the same for 56 students in the 2016-2017 school year.

The board wrote that Johnson “developed a program that saw individual students for their positive attributes and abilities, as opposed to deficits or past behaviors.”

“No longer do students maintain a sense of failure, rather, [they] have come to understand that with hard work, supports are in place to assist each in meeting their goals of graduation.”