The Rotary Club of Kirkland is proud to present three recipients the club’s Outstanding Educator Award for 2021. Danielle MacDonald is a counselor at Rose Hill Middle School, Sara Ward is an English Language teacher at Kirkland Middle School, and Virginia Reinert is a Language Arts, Social Studies, and Quest teacher at Kamiakin Middle School. Each outstanding educator was nominated by her principal for this year's Rotary honors. The outstanding educators, accompanied by their principals, Joe Gorder, Niki Cassaro, and Tim Patterson, and club president James Nevers were honored at the club's June 14, 2021 meeting at The Woodmark Hotel.
Kamiakin Middle School’s Associate Principal Elise LaMont describes Virginia Reinert as a passionate, hardworking educator who puts students first. LaMont says, “She has led our school through substantial changes to our Positive Behavioral and Support system. She provided a focus on our KaMS way: Kind, Accepting, Makes Progress and Safe. She developed a variety of ways to center student voice and get their opinion on the culture they want to have at KaMS.
LaMont tells of Reinert consistently seeking feedback and looking for opportunities to serve students better and meet them where they are. She is known for taking intentional steps to get to know her students, their culture, and their communication style. Virginia is also an advisor and organizer of Kamiakin’s Pride Leaders who put on an amazing event to welcome and serve the needs of 6th grade students this year as they transitioned into in-person learning.
Kirkland Middle School’s Outstanding Educator Award for 2021 goes to Sara Ward, an English Language teacher at the school.
Sara’s principal, Niki Cassaro, says “Sara’s dedication to her students is apparent in all that she does. She values every student and supports them in reaching their full potential. Sara truly believes all students can learn and is relentless in ensuring their success, focusing on building and maintaining relationships with students and developing highly engaging lessons. She does NOT give up on students.”
Sara brings students’ interests into the classroom, creates engaging modified learning opportunities for our EL students who are still learning English, and infects all students with her enthusiasm for reading and learning. This year, Sara expanded her practice to include small group learning sessions. Sara led a number of these sessions in addition to the classes she taught to ensure students had their learning and social-emotional needs met. She knew students would not experience successful without these groups and connections to her and their peers. Even though we’ve returned to school in person with 80% of our students attending in person, Sara continues to run these small group sessions because students valued the support. To say Sara goes beyond expectation to support her students’ learning is an understatement; she often sacrifices her own time to ensure students have positive, meaningful, and accessible learning experiences.
Rose Hill Middle School’s Outstanding Educator is awarded to counselor Danielle MacDonald for 2021. Principal Joe Gorder says that Danielle “personifies “Outstanding Service Above Self” … She arranged for food deliveries last spring that continued weekly through summer for more than forty Rose Hill families suffering from food insecurity during the pandemic. She has built connections through community partners such as Farmer Frog to continue providing food resources to families in need. She founded a food pantry at RHMS that has served approximately 100 families over the course of the school year and coordinated donations from staff, the PTSA, and the community.”
Danielle also organized remote “lunch bunch” meetings with 6th graders, helping them build friendships and stay connected. Through frequent home visits, the Natural Leaders program, and countless phone calls she builds relationships with families, helping to identify systemic barriers, and listening to and honoring the ideas and leadership of families. She employs a strengths-focused mindset for every student and family she interacts with, communicating the strengths and contributions of each student. She leads the staff in equity-focused professional learning, is a group leader for restorative circles, sets up individual interviews with all AVID nominees, and designs Advisory lessons for students on race, bias, allyship, and diversity. Danielle MacDonald is a remarkable educator who represents the characteristics from the “Object of Rotary” to the nth degree.
The Rotary Club of Kirkland annually asks nearby schools to nominate one educator who best represents characteristics gleaned from the “Object of Rotary” published by Rotary International.  The award grew out of efforts begun in 1989-90 to support local youth and to appreciate the work of those who contribute to their growth into responsible young people.  An outstanding educator should demonstrate evidence of:
  • Capitalizing on his or her relationships as an opportunity for service;
  • Exhibiting high ethical standards in the conduct of his or her professional activities, the recognition of the worthiness of all occupations contributing to quality education, and the dignifying of each educator’s contribution as an opportunity to serve society;
  • Demonstrating the ideal of service in his or her personal, professional, and community life;
  • Contributing to the advancement of understanding and goodwill through an attitude of fellowship among professional allied in the ideal of service.
The Rotary Club of Kirkland recognizes and congratulates Danielle MacDonald, Sara Ward, and Virginia Reinert as Outstanding Educators in 2021.