Employee of the Month
Custodians are the unsung heroes of a school district. They are found working hard behind the scenes to ensure that buildings are ready for everything from a regular school day to sporting events. Our September employee of the month is one of our custodial staff and we are excited to be able to recognize the dedication of Ms. Heidi Kinch! Heidi began working for the district in January of 2017 and has proven herself to be a valuable part of our district and Elmira Elementary School.
Heidi and her older brother grew up in the Elmira area. She enjoys reading (a lot), learning new things, writing, building and working in her garden. Some of her favorite creative adventures include wire sculpting, color-pencil painting, lapidary, jewelry-making, calligraphy & lettering and sewing.
Heidi brings her strong work ethic and a quiet smile to work everyday. She tells us that she enjoys learning about and using the maintenance equipment, being able to help people and having the satisfaction of a job well done. She also appreciates the independence and ownership she can take in her work. “It takes a lot of hard work every day (and year round) by all the district custodians to keep the district schools clean and safe/operational. I like to tell people that I get paid to work out!”
At the elementary school, Heidi is sometimes approached by curious students. One of her favorite conversations with one such student happened while she was mopping the floor. The student asked, “are you going to ‘swamp the deck’?”
She also mentioned that she greatly appreciates the many kind and considerate people she works with and when others recognize the effort that goes into taking care of the school facilities, express appreciation and do their part, even the smallest gesture to help out, it makes even a hard day much easier.
Thank you to Heidi for your hard work, positive attitude and attention to detail! You make Elmira Elementary a great place to work!
Congratulations to Laurie Ruell, our August employee of the month! Laurie has worked for the school district since October of 2004. During her first year she worked as a secretary and then moved into a bookkeeping position. In October of 2005, Laurie was selected to assist in the business office and be our go-to accounts payable employee.
Laurie works hard year round to assist our business manager and the payroll department. She processes orders for the district and takes care of all things accounts payable. She enjoys coming to work because of the co-workers she gets to interact with every day. Laurie always has a smile on her face and enjoys both working with the public and completing all the accounts payable paperwork that truly keeps our district operating smoothly.
When she is not working at the district office, Laurie enjoys going for walks with her husband, Mike as well as working in her yard and reading. However, those of us who get to work with her know how much she loves sharing time with her kids and grandkids. She has four beautiful grandchildren, Maelee (5), Nash (2), Jace (3) and Dane (1) who all brighten the walls of her office space!
Thank you Laurie for always being willing to help no matter the request and for doing such an amazing job taking care of so many details (big and small) that are crucial to our school district. We couldn’t do our jobs without you!
Our final employee of the month for the 2018-2019 school year is Pete Mazzei. Pete is a custodian at Fern Ridge Middle School and has worked for the district since June of 2010. He was nominated for this award because he is constantly proving himself to be a valuable part of the staff at FRMS. He is always willing to stop what he is doing to help a student, staff member or parent volunteer. In addition to his custodial duties, he also serves on the middle school safety committee.
Pete works hard each day to ensure that the building is clean and ready for students to arrive the next school day. While students and staff are looking forward to a summer break in the next few days, Pete and the entire custodial crew are busy preparing for their summer cleaning schedule. During the summer break for staff and students, custodians are working harder then ever to strip and re-finish gym floors, deep clean classrooms, staff areas and locker rooms. They work tirelessly to get the buildings ready for students to return in September.
Pete enjoys weightlifting and atv riding in his spare time. He says that his favorite part about his job is the hours that he works because he gets to interact with staff and students during the course of his work day. Thank you Pete for all that you do for our middle school staff and district!
Debra St. Hilaire or “Ms. Saint” as she is known at the high school is our May employee of the month. Ms. Saint has worked for the Fern Ridge School District since 2008. In her own words here is some insight into this deserving educator:
Of all the adventures experienced in life, the most life changing and cherished is my son. Henrik transformed me the moment he was born, I knew him as though he’d been in my life for eons. He has allowed me to love deeper and more completely than I could ever have imagined while bringing me endless joy! At 22, Henrik’s a reflective and conscientious young man being true to himself in finding his path. Initially enrolled in Astro-Physics at UCLA, he’s completed two years of medical work at a hospital and clinic, and contributed to three medical research studies. He competed in cycling, Judo, picked up bouldering, and bought himself a violin to “stretch” himself, eventually performing with UCLA’s Game Orchestra. Henrik graduates in June with majors in Economics and French. He loves the challenge of programming and data crunching and we have our fingers crossed that he lands his dream ‘gap year’ job at Rand Corporation in Los Angeles.
Things that make me ‘tick’… crisp air on my face while the rest of me remains warm. I love snow, sun, hiking, cycling, extended meandering walk-a-bouts and animal trails that get me lost within familiar territory, cross-country skiing, and road tripping with the flexibility to change routes or destination or pace. I’m addicted to designing and remodeling my home, and having my own tools so I can complete projects without hiring them out. I forgive myself when I make mistakes and take the freedom to laugh at them as I learn. I love sleeping under the stars on my roof every night of summer!
What Elmira students give to me is complete and unexpected. These kids bring me so much joy that I literally tear up when talking about them to others. They are ‘present’ and real, and supportive of each other in spite of differences. They have made my life incredibly full and I love soaking up their energy and innocence. When I describe what I do to friends, it feels as though I’m talking about ‘playtime’ because I get to have so much fun while guiding and tricking students into learning. Teaching these kids is by far the most rewarding, challenging and satisfying of all my professions, and I am profoundly fortunate! Thank you for sharing your kids with me.
In September of 2012 Fern Ridge was fortunate to hire Billie Perrier as a classroom teacher at Elmira Elementary School. She and Kevin Perrier have been married for 12 years and together they have two daughters. Kenna is almost 3 and Tessa just celebrated her first birthday!
Mrs. Perrier has taught both Kindergarten and First grade at EES. Her passion for teaching and willingness to collaborate with peers is evident each and every day.
She is active in the Rural Schools Network Professional Development and is a Teacher-Leader with the Professional Learning Communities Initiative. She strives to create a safe and welcoming learning environment in her classroom for all of her students and has excellent classroom management skills. Her principal let us know that Mrs. Perrier is always looking to improve and often volunteers for extra activities such as serving on the reading committee, being a teacher representative on the EES Parent-Teacher Association and has worked on multiple grants for the school.
When asked what her favorite part of her job is, Mrs. Perrier replied, “Every day I walk into a room full of love and smiles plus I get to work with incredible people. It is truly an honor to be a first grade teacher, I get the privilege of teaching children how to read, which is magical.”
Mrs. Perrier’s love of teaching and dedication to her students help make Elmira Elementary an even better place for all students and staff. Congratulations Mrs. Perrier!
Mr. Siegal has been the music teacher at Fern Ridge Middle School since August 2017. Each day he instructs Beginning Band, Intermediate Band, Advanced Band, Choir, Guitar and Intro to Music. He teachers and plays the flute, clarinet, saxophone (alto, tenor, baritone), trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, guitar, ukulele and piano. Of those instruments, Mr. Siegal is most skilled on percussion (drum set), clarinet, piano and ukulele. (As you can see FRSD students are fortunate to have such a talented teacher!)
He tells us that his favorite thing about his job is working with students in different areas of music and seeing/hearing their musical development and hearing from them how music is a part of their lives. Observing the musical improvement of individual students and the ensembles throughout the year is exciting and rewarding. He also really enjoys being able to play different instruments throughout the day.
Mr. Siegal is very interested in percussion traditions from around the world. His interest in world music has led him to travel to Ghana, West Africa to study traditional drumming and also to Salvador de Bahai, Brazil to study samba-reggae. When he is not practicing drums, piano or ukulele, he enjoys hiking and fishing. During the summer months he enjoys backpacking in the Cascades.
This summer, Mr. Siegal is getting married to his finance, Jaclyn Teixeira. They have been together for 10 years after originally meeting in their 8th grade Spanish class. They are planning to be married in their home town of Dartmouth, Massachusetts and will then travel to Portugal.
Our students and district are lucky to have Mr. Siegal as a teacher. Congratulations!
Debbie Harrison has been an Instructional Assistant in our Special Education Department for 12 years. She has worked with students at Elmira Elementary, Elmira High School and Veneta Elementary. She has been married to her husband, Carl Harrison for 24 years. Both of their children, Ryan and Miranda, are Elmira High School graduates. Miranda is a sophomore in college and Ryan is a senior at Oregon State University.
In her free time Debbie enjoys collecting antiques, spending time with her husband (they are empty nesters now!) and kayaking. She says one of her favorite things about her job is knowing that she is making a difference in student’s lives. She also loves seeing the smiles on kids faces when they are with her or when she sees them out in the community.
In addition to her full time job as an Instructional Assistant, Debbie also works admissions for the home games at Elmira High School and she travels with high school students on their East Coast and West Coast trips.
The 2018/2019 school year will be Debbie’s final year with Fern Ridge students as she plans to retire in June. After her retirement the Harrison’s are looking at purchasing a home at the coast so she can be on the water as much as possible. Thank you Debbie for all of your work and dedication to our students. We wish you all the best in your retirement!
Quanah Bennett, the business manager for the Fern Ridge School District has been selected as the first employee of the month for 2019.
She has worked in the district since August of 2005 and has been the District Business Manager since July of 2015. As the business manager of a small district, Quanah’s job entails a variety of duties; she serves as a leader of the financial operations, conducts fiscal planning to include forecasting anticipated revenue and expenditures, attends board meetings and committee meetings as requested, supervises payroll and accounts payable while continuing to develop and maintain positive relations both district and community wide. She also administers the District’s business operations in conformity with the adopted policies of the Board, state and federal laws and regulations and all other laws and regulations.
“One of the favorite things about my job is the continuous change and need for collaboration. There are always new policies, standards, laws, practices, etc…needing put into place. Because of this, I frequently get to collaborate with fellow co-workers and even other districts on how to implement them. The job is never boring, thats for sure!”
When she is not hard at work in the business office she is spending time with her husband, Duane (a 1995 graduate of Elmira High School) and her two sons, Ethan, a 7th grader at Fern Ridge Middle School and Conner, a 4th grader at Elmira Elementary School. She also enjoys hiking, water sports, fishing, gardening and attending her sons sporting events.
Our district relies on Quanah and her expertise to help guide the district in the financial areas that are critical to our success. Thank you Quanah for you countless hours of work and dedication to all of the employees and families of the Fern Ridge School District!
To say that our December Employee of the Month is invaluable is almost an understatement! Truthfully, Elmira High School could not function without Angela Baker, and her amazing abilities as the high school registrar! Angela not only enrolls and registers students, she also creates the master schedule for the entire school each semester, ensures that every student is taking the correct courses and has the correct number of credits in order to graduate. Sometimes finding the right class for students within the master schedule is like working with a puzzle and she is always able to fit things together.
In addition to student support, Angela is also an incredible resource for the staff at EHS. She works with and helps to manage the student information system that our district uses. She quickly and efficiently assists staff who may be having difficulties with the student system. She always makes herself available to students or staff and has been described as the beating heart of EHS.
Angela has worked for the district since August of 2003. She enjoys gardening, reading, trying new recipes, playing with their dog as well as traveling with her husband and dog in their RV and finding remote places to camp. She loves interacting with the terrific students and staff at EHS, helping students with scheduling issues and seeing the relief and excitement on the students faces when they graduate.
Thank you Angela for the amazing work you do at Elmira High School!
Mr. Jesse Light has been selected as our November Employee of the Month! Mr. Light and his wife (also named Jessie) have two sons, both of whom were born abroad. Maximus Indigo Vintor Light is 5 and was born in Doha, Qatar, and Tristan Phoenix Moon Light George is 7 and was born in La Ceiba, Honduras.
As you can imagine a favorite pastime of the Light family is traveling! Mr. Light has been to over 30 countries and has visited 40 states. In addition to being born out of the country, both of Mr. Light’s sons are on their second passports! This summer their family plans to travel to France, Germany, Hungry, Austria and Slovenia.
Mr. Light has been a teacher at the Fern Ridge Middle School since September of 2016 and has been a teacher for over 7 years. He has taught students grades 5th to 12th and coached soccer, volleyball, basketball and knowledge bowl. When asked what his favorite thing is about his job he told us, “middle schoolers are hilarious, a constant surprise, an endless wonder and still love to have fun.” Mr. Light enjoys teaching and says he will teach anybody, anywhere, anything. We want to thank Mr. Light for bringing his energy, enthusiasm and love for teaching to Fern Ridge Middle School!