Excellence in education award goes to White River's Brenda Waugh-Hopkins

Brenda Waugh-Hopkins found herself a double-winner during White River High School’s Star Awards ceremony June 2.

The theater and English teacher was first shocked to learn she was named Hornet PTSA Teacher of the Year, and moments later was also named the winner of the annual Mary Meisenbach Excellence in Education Award.

Each year, John and Ginny Meisenbach honor a White River High teacher for their dedication to education. The award began 10 years ago in 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 attending White River, he joined the Navy. He later attended Seattle University, where he is currently a trustee, 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.

“We’ve been the recipients,” Meisenbach told the students, staff and community members gathered in the high school gymnasium. “Over the last 10 years we’ve gotten to know 10 different teachers, 10 advisers, who are absolutely wonderful.”

“This school is amazing,” Ginny Meisenbach said, refering to the devotion of staff and the dedication of students. Meisenbach took time to congratulate the staff and students on not being part of the national statistics. He said across the country the graduation rate hovers around 50 percent, at White River High, he said, there is a 90 percent graduation rate.

Teachers like Waugh-Hopkins, who care about students and build relationships with them, help that happen, Meisenbach said.

Waugh-Hopkins said teaching, for her, is all about loving the kids.

“Each kid is a gift to the world,” she said, mentioning she nurtures her students as if they were her own children.

“The opportunity to teach you is really our gift to me,” she said to the student body.

Waugh-Hopkins joins past recipients Lynette Nylund, Dianne Campbell, Bob Brooks, Terry Veltkamp, Juan Garibay, Jill Sulkosky, Bev Snyder, Jer Argo and Todd and Amy Miller.

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