Washington School District officials thanked teachers and staff for their hard work and dedication to students at the annual end-of-the-year assembly, held last Wednesday at the high school.

More than 660 employees were in attendance. It was the last day for teachers and support staff who returned to their buildings after the ceremony to finish closing out their classrooms for the summer. The last day for students was Tuesday, May 22.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer, who was unable to attend due to her son’s college registration, thanked staff members in a special video.

Dr. Brendan Mahon, assistant superintendent, told staff members he and other administrators were able to visit many of the schools on the last day and it was great to see the emotional send-offs for those students leaving elementary school, middle and high school.

“The kids are so comfortable at their schools and have such a sense of security, which is so great to see,” he said, “and that’s because of all of you.”


School officials also said goodbye to 20 retirees at the breakfast, who represent 352 years of service to the district. Prior to the ceremony, the school board and administration honored the retirees over breakfast.

Retiring staff members include teachers John McCarthy, Janet Hagedorn, Julie McBride, Karin Parks Wolking, Dan Heck, Sara Barnett and Jana Monzyk; paraprofessionals Pattie Kreamalmeyer, Lisa Huxel, Bob Pecka and Kurt Althage; support staff members Marcel Sulschi, Ileana Sulschi, Tamara Milligan, Deborah Brueggen, Peggy Brinker, Jose Gamez, Donna Frankenberg and Jeanette Marquart; and nurse Georgana Hagan.

A video presentation for the retirees was shown.

School Board Vice President John Freitag also spoke at the ceremony. He thanked staff members for another successful year.

“Summer is a time to reflect what you did in the classroom,” he said. “And to think about how many students you can support next year.”

Freitag also reminded staff that the school cycle starts up again in just 84 days.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Judy Straatmann shared “points of pride” from each school over the year.

Service Awards

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rachael Franssen presented service awards.

10 Years — Meghan Brueggemann, Jana Buchanan, Kaye Chisholm, Amanda Clark, Chris Dunard, Cristy Esparza, Jennifer Gamez, Dane Gough, Erin Gough, Julie Grafrath, Elizabeth Hobbs, Katie Hogenmiller, Tricia Holm, Kim Hunt, Maria Kakadiaris, Lindsay Kober, Rob Landers, Jenny Meers, Scott Morgan, Tracy Niccum, Kara Pate, Anita Rehmeier, Lorna Schulz, Debbie Shafferkoetter, Brian Stuesse, Cassandra Suggs, Danette Wood, Rebecca Young and Terry Zanin.

15 Years — Barbara Gansmann, Stephanie Juengling, Tom Mathews, Jaime Opfer, Melanie Trentmann, Lori VanLeer, Dana Vogel and Robert York.

20 Years — Laura Bruckerhoff, Lisa Coffman, Donna Frankenberg, Ann Gaebe, Dawn Hellebusch, Cathy Hemmer, Sandy Knickmeyer, Gary Maune, Kelle McCallum, Erin Monzyk, Laurie Reed, Ed Stahl, Judy Straatmann, Tracy Straatmann, Greg Traffas, Julie Trentmann, Michelle Turner and Becky Zanin.

25 Years — Karen Kassebaum, Barb Laramore, Julie McBride, Kate Montgomery, Stacey Siefken and Kelly Worstell.

30 Years — Margie Longseth and Kevin Hunewill.

Teachers who completed the Teaching With Technology Leadership Academy also were recognized at the program.

Michelle Prewitt has completed the second year, or specialist level of the program, and Ryan Brennan, Melissa Golder, Jill Griffin, Valerie Jankowski, Nicole Kottmann, Keshan Vogt and Kelly Worstell have all completed the master level, the third year of the program.

Professional Honors

Honors and awards earned by staff members and the school board over the past year also were announced. They include:

Missouri School Board Association Outstanding Board of Education and Governance Awards — school board and district.

Missouri State Teachers Association State President — Brett Hoch.

Adam Morgan Foundation Most Inclusive Teacher — Melissa Feldman.

WHS Renaissance Teacher of the Year — Cassandra Suggs.

East Central College NEA Inspirer of Excellence Award — Christina Manolis-Strauser, Jessica Fitzgerald, Ed Stahl, Jaime Opfer, Kelly Wood, Carolyn Kluesner and Leslie Wallace.

Amercian Chemical Society of St. Louis Teacher of the Year — Elizabeth Hobbs.

Olga Lengyl Institute Victims of Communism Fellowship — Kerri Flynn.

Missouri Soccer Coaches Association All Regional Coach of the Year — Derek Schriewer.

Missouri Association of School Administrators Robert Pearce Award Nominee — Dr. Lori VanLeer.

National Association of Biology Teachers New Biology Teacher Achievement Award Nominee — Suzanne Pelley.

Missouri Association of Student Councils/South Central Advisor of the Year — Amanda Nilges.

Missouri State Teachers Association Educator of the Year/South Central Region — Connie Groff.

Missouri Interscholastic Press Association Emerging Journalism Educator Award — Christina Manolis-Strauser.

Washington Area Chamber of Commerce/Missourian Outstanding Young Professionals — Elizabeth Mades and Kelsey Scheer.

Project Lead the Way Outstanding Launch Teacher — Jana Monzyk.

Emerson Electric Excellence in Teaching Award — Stefanie Virgen.


Dr. Jane Reed, former assistant superintendent, announced the recipients of the Dr. Jane Reed and Doug Reed scholarships. Each year the Reeds present two scholarships to a certified teacher and a support staff employee who are continuing their education.

This year, they doubled the scholarship amounts to $2,000 each.

The recipients are Bridget Phelps, Clearview Elementary second-grade teacher, and Kim Voss, Washington High School paraprofessional.

For the fourth year in a row, the top selling school of the WINGS discount cards again was Campbellton Elementary. The fundraiser brought in over $40,000, which will support teacher grants and build the WINGS endowment fund.