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District honors its outstanding staffers with $250 prizes for Making A Difference, Thank-a-Teacher awards

Six outstanding employees in the Gladstone School District were honored with Making A Difference Awards and Thank-a-Teacher Awards for outstanding service to their students, the school and the district. Each won a $250 cash prize.

COURTESY PHOTOS - Gladstone teachers Emily Morse, Kerry Jeffrey and Kevin Zerzan pose with Peggy Baker, whose husband Dick Baker, a retired principal, funded the Thank A Teacher award program.1. Kevin Zerzan, a veteran science teacher at Gladstone High School, is part of a team designing a new freshman course to help students connect classwork with their plans, goals and future career. A winner of the national Milken Educator Award, he now serves as co-president of the Gladstone Teaching Association. He also contributes as a mentor, an advisor and on the GHS leadership team.

Lynn Aleksich, Ashley Morris, and Debbie Poyser won the Making A Difference Award and a $250 cash gift provided by an anonymous donor.2. Kerry Jeffrey, a learning and evaluation specialist in the Special Services department, was recognized for her efforts to see the potential in each student, helping each one reach high expectations. Besides being an equity advocate, she tracks and analyzes data and leads the evaluation team. She is known for bringing fun, positivity and humor to the students she serves.

3. Emily Morse, a fourth-grade teacher at John Wetten Elementary, leads the math team, the wellness team and her professional learning community. She was recognized for knowing the importance of meeting her students' social and emotional needs, so she creates a kind and caring learning environment.

4. Lynn Aleksich, the district's Nutrition Services coordinator, runs Gladstone's largest restaurants in four school cafeterias. She strives to plan nutritious, balanced meals, using fresh, local produce through Farm-to-School program and Oregon Harvest for Schools. She also runs the free summer lunch program, which this year provided nearly 3,000 free meals to Gladstone children.

5. Ashley Morris, the evening custodian at John Wetten Elementary, was seen as exemplifying the school motto, "We can do hard things," while being warm and personable. In her three years with the Gladstone District, she has gone the extra mile by offering her skills as an electrician and painter to keep her school clean and safe for students.

6. Debbie Poyser, as bookkeeper at Gladstone High School, is responsible for tracking accounts, payments and expenses. From invoices and purchase orders to student coin drives and game day money boxes, she was recognized for always being helpful, kind, and positive despite a constant barrage of requests from teachers, coaches, parents, students, and district staff.

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