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Lunches, pins and ‘shout outs’ are popular ways to honor contributions of classified school employees

Classified employees assist teachers, keep schools clean, are the first voice a parent hears when calling the front office and get children home safely on bright yellow buses.

The Washougal School District, like others across the state, is celebrating Classified Employees Week to honor those who serve in these positions and others.

Each school typically has its own celebration for employees, such as a lunch. The Public School Employees’ union is also recognizing its classified members with a celebration, pins for those who have served 10 years or longer, and “shout outs” on its website.

“We started the webpage about three years ago and introduced the ‘shout out,'” said Sandra Goza, PSE secretary. “It was so popular that we expanded it last year, and this year we’re extending it more.”

The tributes give administrators and teachers the opportunity to recognize classified employees in their schools who make a difference.

PSE officer Heather Christofferson added that the approximately 200 classified employees help students to succeed and give teachers support as well.

“Washougal PSE is proud to recognize the classified employees of our school district,” she said. “Food service, custodians, bus drivers, para educators, librarian techs, secretaries, maintenance crews, playground paras, preschool paras and many more jobs are covered by classified employees.”

Lucia Raynor has worked for 15 years on the playground at Hathaway Elementary School, supervising students every day at recess, in all weather conditions.

“I just love the kids,” she said. “It takes a certain kind of person to do this job, but I love it and keep coming back. Hathaway has an amazing staff as well.”

She said the biggest change in her 15 years on the job has been the emphasis on safety.

“The safety issue is always in the back of your head,” she said. “I am always looking to see who is around the perimeter. These days, you need to be on high alert. I just want to make sure I am taking care of everyone.”

Sandy Bell works in food service at Gause Elementary School. She has been in the position for 10 years.

“I love the kids,” she said. “They all crack me up.”

Bell added with a smile, “I really enjoy my co-workers, too, when I am not yelling at them.”

She said the most challenging thing about her job is finding food that the kids will enjoy.

“You just can’t go and make 200 of one item, because then they may not eat it,” she said.

When asked what has changed the most about her job in the past 10 years, she noted that the products were different and the amount of paperwork had increased.

“But the kids have stayed the same,” Bell said. “We are serving them comfort food and they all look forward to it, so that they can keep energized, go back to class and drive the teachers crazy.”

To read the tributes to classified employees, visit www.sites.google.com/site/washougalpse.

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