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Regional Classified Employee & Teacher of the Year

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Regional 2022 NEWESD Classified Employee of the Year and 2023 Teacher of the Year

SPOKANE, WA – The NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101(NEWESD) has selected Horizon Middle School Intervention Specialist Anthony “Tony” Collins as 2022 Regional Classified Employee of the Year and Seth Woodard Elementary Literacy Interventionist Gina Behrens as 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Overseen by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Regional Teacher and Classified Employee of the Year programs recognize excellence in teaching and the exceptional work of public-school employees. Winners are selected by a committee based on nominations from peers, supervisors, students and parents received by a regional coordinator at each of the state’s nine ESDs. While contending for the titles of State Teacher and Classified Employee of the Year, regional winners engage in year-long professional learning, leadership and advocacy training, and meet with state and national education leaders.

2022 NEWESD Classified Employee of the Year

Anthony “Tony” Collins, who attended Horizon Middle School when it first opened as a junior high in 1982, has served on the staff for nearly 25 years. Throughout his time at Horizon, Collins has fostered a safe, supportive environment where students can thrive both academically and behaviorally while working as a behavior interventionist in general and special education classrooms.

Managing the student check-in/check-out and academic support/directed studies programs, organizing daily prize incentives to support ASB fundraising, and serving on the school’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports Tier 2 team are just some of the many responsibilities Collins has embraced to help students with behavior and academic needs.

“During the past two years as we have gone through the pandemic, the strength he brings to our school has become that much more evident,” says Principal Joshua Wolcott. “Even when students were participating with school virtually, Tony still worked to meet with his students and their parents. He would do this over the phone or via Zoom. He kept his commitment to his students and our staff even as he was assigned to manage an essential workers child care center at one of our elementary schools. Never with complaint and always with a student-centered approach, Tony continued to reach out to our most at-risk students who where doubly at-risk in a virtual learning environment and continued to have them connected to Horizon and their teachers.”

2023 NEWESD Teacher of the Year

Gina Behrens, a 29-year veteran teacher and literacy interventionist at Seth Woodard Elementary, is described by her peers as an energetic, creative, hard-working professional and key player in delivering high quality direct instruction to struggling students. She is steadfast in her commitment to cultivating positive, engaging learning environments for improved student achievement, equitable outcomes and stronger parent-teacher and teacher-student relationships. As an educational leader, Behrens coaches staff by modeling best practices in delivery of instruction, classroom management and differentiated interventions to meet the individual needs, interests and strengths of each student.

“The level of knowledge and expertise that Gina Behrens brings to students, families and staff at Seth Woodard helps fuel a community-wide learning culture where quality and distinction are prioritized,” saysPrincipal Mike Lollar. “As a reading interventionist, Gina is able to consistently bring students from measurable low levels in reading and elevate them to grade level or higher relative to their peers.”

“Gina has come to a point in her career as an educator where her talents can be shared and celebrated beyond the Seth Woodard school building and West Valley School District,” says West Valley Superintendent Kyle Rydell. “Her vision, passion, communication skills and work ethic will make her an excellent representative for Washington state.”


About NorthEast Washington Educational Service District (NEWESD) 101

NEWESD 101 promotes educational excellence by delivering essential, cooperative services to 59 public school districts, 45 state-approved private schools and three charter schools across northeast Washington in Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman counties.

Now entering its 53rd year of operation, NEWESD 101 is the state's largest ESD in the number of districts served, counties served and geographic region served.