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Nylund earns Excellence in Education Award
The timing was perfect Friday – the final day of Teacher Appreciation Week – for John and Ginny Meisenbach to come out to White River High School and award their annual Mary Meisenbach Excellence in Education Award.
This year’s recipient, Lynette Nylund, epitomizes what the award was created to honor – a teacher who not only excels in the classroom, but provides leadership and mentorship to students, John Meisenbach told students gathered in the school gymnasium.
“She is firm in her teaching,” Meisenbach said. “She is fair. She is compassionate. She stays after school and works with you. She’s very involved in the community. She is a person that everyone loves to be in her class.
“I assume there are teachers all over the country like these, but I doubt it. You are blessed,” Meisenbach said while honoring Nylund and the nine other WRHS teachers – Dianne Campbell, Bob Brooks, Terry Veltkamp, Juan Garibay, Jill Sulkosky, Bev Snyder, Jer Argo, Todd and Amy Miller, who have received the award.
Each year since 2001, John and Ginny Meisenbach have honored a White River High teacher for their dedication to education. The award is dedicated to the memory of John’s mother who believed education was paramount to success, and it comes with a tax-free, no-strings-attached $10,000 bonus.
Meisenbach grew up in Buckley and graduated from White River in 1954. His parents owned and operated the M & M variety store on Main Street from 1946 to the 1970s. After White River, he joined the Navy. He later attended Seattle University and went into the insurance and financial services business starting his own company in Seattle.
He set up the award to reward hard-working teachers in his home town.
White River High School Principal Mike Hagadone said this year’s award could not have come at a better time.
“For some of our educators it’s been a difficult year,” Hagadone said as he encouraged students during the finale to Teacher Appreciation Week to take time and thank a teacher who has impacted their life or influenced them in a positive way. “Our teachers are doing fabulous things. Through all the turmoil and change they continue to remain focused on students and student learning. I’m very proud of them.”
Teachers are nominated by students, staff and community members. One requirement is they have to have taught at the high school for five years. This year there were many nominees. The Meisenbachs select the winner.
“The letters were spectacular,” Meisenbach said of those written by students who supported Nylund. “They appreciated about you was that you were firm with them. You were not just a push over, but that you really cared.”
Nylund is giving back at White River High. She is a 1991 graduate of the Buckley high school, and her parents are both retired from education. After graduating from White River, Nylund earned her teaching degrees in psychology and science from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash. She picked up her master’s degree from City University and has been teaching at White River High for 11 years.
Meisenbach said Nylund has been a nominee for the award every year.
At the assembly, Nylund was suprised and speechless. She later said she wrote a glowing letter for a co-worker and expected that nominee to win. From the podium, she thanked her co-workers, her family, her friends, students, Key Club members, camp counselors and the many others she has worked with throughout the years.
She also offered students some advice.
“Be a part of your school,” she said. “It’s not just a place to go and hang out.”
White River leaders also took time to honor students Friday. Meisenbach, who is also a university trustee, said statistics note about 50 percent of students don’t graduate from high school. He said he was proud of WRHS’s 85 percent competition rate.
Each year, the Meisenbachs also provide a scholarship to a graduating senior, and they were conducting those interviews on campus Friday as well.
Another longstanding tradition will be for Nylund and her husband to join past recipients and their spouses to dine with the Meisenbachs during the summer. Meisenbach said the group has grown to become quite large. He said each dinner allows he and Ginny to get to know the teachers and they often ask them to name an event in their life that has had great impact on them.
“For almost all of them that event had to do with a student,” he said.
Reach Brenda Sexton at email@example.com or 360-802-8206.