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PSESD Announces Regional Teacher of the Year and Classified School Employee of the Year

Local educators honored for excellence in education

Renton, Wash. — Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) is thrilled to announce its Regional Teacher of the Year, Boo Balkan Foster of Seattle Public Schools, and Regional Classified School Employee of the Year, Janis Campbell-Aikens of Auburn School District. Both recipients were nominated, evaluated and selected for the awards based on their professional biographies, outstanding work performance, professional leadership and collaboration, and any other unique qualities or circumstances.

Boo Balkan Foster is a šəqačib teacher in the Native American Education Department at Chief Sealth International High School, who works with students in grades 6-12. She is a veteran educator, with 26 years of experience as a teacher. When asked to describe how she helps students make connections between school, their family and culture, and their local community, she shared “šəqačib is a Southern Lushootseed word meaning, ‘raising hands.’ We raise hands to say hello, good morning, thank-you and to show respect. However, it’s much more. It essentially means, ‘I hold you in the highest esteem.’ Viewing students through this lens is the first step in supporting connection to school, family, culture and community.”

Janis Campbell-Aikens is the Child Nutrition Director in the Auburn School District. She is an innovative leader who focuses on excellence and consistency in the district’s Child Nutrition programs. Campbell-Aikens’s core belief is that “school days should be focused on learning and not impacted by concerns about food.” This shows up in her commitment to students’ growth, health, and academic development. It is notable that after a year in a pandemic, the Child Nutrition Department served 1,635,239 meals, highlighting their determination to ensure that students have food.

Both award recipients are now qualified as candidates for the Washington State Educator Awards, which will be announced by Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in the fall. Teacher of the Year and Classified School Employee of the Year are equal parts recognition and professional development. Regional award recipients participate with their cohort in extensive training in communications, advocacy, and policy.

PSESD is one of nine regional educational agencies serving school districts, tribal compact schools, and state approved charter and private schools in Washington. Educational Service Districts, created by the legislature, are an essential regional delivery system for early learning and K–postsecondary services in the state.

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Boo Balkan Foster photo by Melissa Ponder, courtesy of Native Action Network

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