Schools Foundation honors Educators of the Year

Left to right, Joe Dockery, Dana Stairs and Jerry Johnson were honored as Educators of the Year by the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation. They received awards and monetary prizes at the foundation’s fund-raising breakfast March 28. - Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Left to right, Joe Dockery, Dana Stairs and Jerry Johnson were honored as Educators of the Year by the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation. They received awards and monetary prizes at the foundation’s fund-raising breakfast March 28.
— image credit: Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Annual breakfast event raises money for learning programs

Nearly 300 community members came together to raise money for educational programs at the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation fund-raising breakfast, held Friday, March 28 at the Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club.

Money raised by the non-profit foundation will go to district-wide initiatives, classroom grants, and professional development, said Carolyn Simpson, the foundation’s vice president. This year’s goals include funding a reading enrichment and intervention program in elementary schools, improving middle schools’ physical education programs, and sustaining the high school’s Natural Helpers peer-counseling program.

Dennis Bounds from KING 5 news served as emcee, Mount Si’s jazz band played, and former Seattle Mariner Jeff Cirillo told the audience in his keynote address that when he was young, teachers gave him the tools he needed to succeed.

Mount Si band director Adam Rupert said he appreciated how the foundation encouraged him to apply for the grants that had helped his department buy pricier instruments.

“That’s nice, when anyone says, ‘We have money. Come and get it,’” he said.

The foundation also honored its Educators of the Year, who were nominated by students, parents, other educators and community members. An independent committee of community and business leaders reviewed applications and selected three educators who inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, have earned the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues, and are active in the community as well as in school.

The honorees were:

Joe Dockery, Mount Si High School teacher

Through his multimedia classes, Dockery gets students ready for high-tech careers in a variety of fields.

“This [production] class has certainly prepared me for the industry because Mr. D pretty much provides us with everything,” said senior Michael Wagner, who plans to study to be a screenwriter.

Earlier this year, Dockery led a group from his school to Los Angeles to explore school and career options, and he encourages students to gain professional experience by filming district events.

Dockery also strives to involve his students in the community. Some of his students recently produced a video highlighting the Helping Hand Food Bank’s need for funds to expand its site. Another student team produced videos for the fund-raising breakfast.

Dana Stairs, Fall City Elementary School teacher

Stairs said she loves working with fifth graders because she’s able to inspire their enthusiasm for learning, whatever the subject matter.

“She has a unique way of seeing the individual needs of students and works to develop lessons with that in mind,” said Fall City Elementary Principal Dan Schlotfeldt.

Stairs also said she tries to boost her fifth graders’ confidence as they prepare for middle school.

“One of my most important roles is to show them they’re capable of doing anything,” she said.

Stairs commutes to Fall City from Maple Valley, and said she wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

“I love this district. We have amazing support. We couldn’t do half the things we do in the classroom without the parent volunteers,” she said.

Jerry Johnson, bus driver

During the seven years he’s driven buses for the school district, Johnson has worked to brighten the days of students of all ages, and bring them out of their shells. Johnson’s own seven children are all grown now, and he relishes the opportunity to be around young people.

“You’ve got to love kids to do this job,” he said. He also appreciates the cooperation he receives from parents; he said they’re great about about addressing the disciplinary issues that spring up from time to time.

“I can hopefully make a difference with these kids, and I think the parents know that,” he said.

Johnson said he plans to keep driving until it’s time for him to retire; he already retired once from a 32-year career with a bakery.

• More information about the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation is available online at

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