ESD 105
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News Releases
ESD 105 is excited to announce our 2024 Regional Teacher of the Year: Lauren Thomas of Toppenish High School. - 06/13/24

This spring we received nominations for more than 53 amazing teachers across the south central region of Washington State to serve as our 2024 ESD 105 Regional Teacher of the Year.  While all of these candidates are special and represent high standards in education, one candidate rose to the top. We are excited to share that Lauren Thomas, a high school ELA teacher from Toppenish School District, has been selected!

 

As a daughter of two educators, she learned early in life that the role of a teacher  is one of service over self. She shows up to work every day, ready to do just that, putting her needs behind those of her students and her colleagues. Her passion to help students reach their highest aspirations was evident in every question we asked as well as in the moments we were able to observe her with her students . She did not just ask questions hoping for specific answers, but rather she proved to be a master at guiding her students to discovering the answers on their own. The respect her students have for her was evident, as was her love for her students and for her profession. 
 

Ms. Thomas is an educator who is looking beyond today into what students contribute to our future, always encouraging them to have their own voice and showing them how to use their voice to advocate for themselves and for their communities. She often collaborates with other Toppenish organizations to bring community service projects into the classroom, giving her students real world experiences and connections. 
 

Schedules are busy, but Lauren finds time to not only teach her students, but to learn from them as well. During her interview with our panel of judges Ms. Thomas stated, “It took me a long time to learn that our kids, many of them, support their family. This was the most eye opening… It has changed how I have seen my own students in the classroom. This showed me the real need to focus on mental health.” Lauren shows her students that they are valued as individuals, always encouraging them to share their stories, while incorporating their cultures into her lesson planning. 
 

As an advocate for education, Ms. Thomas hopes to support the reformation of our standardized testing practices, ensuring a focus on differentiated learning styles. She also hopes to reach other educators with a simple, but powerful message, “Remember that every student is unique, and there’s always a reason to know about their background. It is our job to find the reason and meet them with what they need.” 
 

Lauren is a teacher, leader, mentor, advocate and friend to many. We are thrilled to recognize Ms. Lauren Thomas as our 2024 Regional Teacher of the Year award winner. Click here for photos. 

 

Our top three finalists for this year’s Teacher of the Year award are listed below: 

  • Lauren Thomas | English Language Arts & Homeroom Teacher | Toppenish School District (Toppenish High School)
  • MaryKay Velikanje | Financial Fitness, Career Choices & Marketing Teacher | Yakima Public Schools (Stanton Academy)
  • Stephanie King | English Language Arts & CTE Teacher | Granger School District (Granger High School)


 

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About ESD 105:

ESD 105 supports 25 public school districts and more than 20 state-approved private and tribal schools in South Central Washington.  The agency serves the expressed needs of those schools in coordinating and conducting cooperative programs to benefit the approximately 68,000 K-12 students who are served in Kittitas and Yakima counties and portions of Grant and Klickitat counties.  As one of nine ESDs in the state, ESD 105 carries out liaison activities between local school districts, the Washington State Office of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education. 

ESD 105 is excited to announce our 2024 Regional Classified Employee of the Year, Erica Aparicio, community health worker for Yakima Public Schools. Ms. Aparicio will advance to OSPI's Statewide recognition program. - 06/13/24

This spring, we received nominations for more than thirteen amazing education support professionals across the south central region of Washington State to serve as our 2024 ESD 105 Regional Classified Employee of the Year.  We are excited to share that Erica Aparicio, a community health worker for Yakima Public Schools, has been selected! 


Going above and beyond is her norm. In education, we often recognize individuals for going above and beyond the call of duty when they make home visits or engage outside of school in the greater community. For Erica, this is her norm; she regularly conducts work in the community, meeting families where they are most comfortable.  

 

She has an impact by showing care and support for displaced families. Recently a family from Venezuela came to our country with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a couple of immunization records. Erica quickly enrolled the students in school, ensured they had the supplies and resources needed, and connected them with housing services. Erica embodies the whole child - whole family approach.  One of the many parents she has supported wrote a letter of recommendation for this award: “Miss Erica is an excellent person because when we arrived, we had nothing… She came to my motel to help by bringing food, coats, blankets, clothes and shoes… She also helped with my daughter’s immunizations and doctor appointments at the clinic… she helped me secure an appointment for housing…I feel very grateful .” 

 

She is an advocate for community health. During COVID, Ms. Aparicio was assigned to support State mandated COVID-19 testing and contract tracing requirements. While working in this capacity, she recognized a greater need in the community; a need for a community health worker who met families where they were at with what they needed most. Armed with the knowledge and access to essential community resources available to families, Ms. Aparicio has been able to do just that. When COVID relief funding to cover this position was no longer provided, Erica advocated for the continuation of her position to support the whole child through support of the whole family. Yakima Public Schools has continued this investment in their students and community because of the success they’re seeing as a direct result of Erica’s contributions. 

Since assuming her current role, Erica has also been instrumental in developing several free vaccine and sports physical clinics and a community pantry that have benefitted hundreds of Yakima students and families. 

 

Ms. Aparicio changes the dynamics of entire families.  Before the onset of the pandemic, Erica was working with a student who experienced severe cognitive delays, which made it impossible for her to communicate with others. Erica created a PECS Book (Picture Exchange Communication System) so that this student could communicate her needs, giving her a sense of empowerment and a link to the outside world. After the closing of our nation’s public schools, Erica was very concerned that the progress she had made with this student would be impacted. To ensure this student’s success, Erica translated this machine into the family’s home language and met with the family over Zoom to train them in how to use it. This was the first time the family was able to communicate with their child, knowing precisely what she needed. Erica did not just change the life of this student for the better, she changed the dynamic of an entire family! 

 

Erica is a leader, mentor, advocate and friend to many. Beyond the examples of excellence provided for Erica are many more stories of connection, innovation and care. We are thrilled to recognize her with our 2024 Regional Classified Employee of the Year award. As our regional recipient, Ms. Aparicio will advance to OSPI’s statewide Classified Employee of the Year competition. We invite you to join us in congratulating Ms. Aparicio! 

 

Ms. Aparicio was recognized by ESD 105 Superintendent Kevin Chase during a surprise announcement onsite at Yakima Public Schools’ Community Health & Wellness Center on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in a room of her colleagues. Also in attendance were Yakima Public Schools’ Superintendent  Dr. Trevor Greene, ESD 105 Assistant Superintendent Shane Backlund, YSD Chief Communications Officer Kirsten Fitterer, and several panel judges, including last year’s winner Christopher Harris of Selah School District. 

Click here to access photos of today's surprise announcement.
 

Our top three finalists for this year’s Classified Employee of the Year award are listed below: 

  • Erica Aparicio | Community Health Worker | Yakima Public Schools
  • Sara Colby | Technology Coach | West Valley School District
  • Heather Cooley | Behavior Interventionist | Naches Valley School District

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About ESD 105:

ESD 105 supports 25 public school districts and more than 20 state-approved private and tribal schools in South Central Washington.  The agency serves the expressed needs of those schools in coordinating and conducting cooperative programs to benefit the approximately 68,000 K-12 students who are served in Kittitas and Yakima counties and portions of Grant and Klickitat counties.  As one of nine ESDs in the state, ESD 105 carries out liaison activities between local school districts, the Washington State Office of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education.


 

DrAliciaJacob
DrAliciaJacob
Educational Service District 105 (ESD 105) Selects New Assistant Superintendent - Dr. Alicia Jacob of the Selah School District (Photo) - 06/12/24

Yakima, WA [June 12, 2024] – The Educational Service District 105 is thrilled to announce the selection of Dr. Alicia Jacob as the new assistant superintendent. Dr. Jacob will replace ESD 105’s current deputy superintendent, Shane Backlund, when he assumes his new role as the agency’s Superintendent on July 1, 2024. 
 

On Friday, June 7, 2024, Dr. Jacob and four other outstanding candidates met with an interview committee of twelve ESD 105 employees, representing the agency’s various departments and programs. Because of her profound commitment to educational equity, innovation, and student success, Dr. Jacob rose to the top. 
 

Of her selection, Dr. Jacob stated, "I am excited for the honor to work with our regional districts to ensure the success of all students. I look forward to building relationships and continuing to offer the opportunities provided by the amazing staff of ESD 105 to meet both the common and unique needs of our educational community.”
 

Dr. Jacob brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience. Throughout her career, Dr. Jacob has strived to create an educational environment that values diversity, celebrates variability, and holds students to high standards. Beginning her career as a mathematics and special education teacher, she quickly recognized the disparities in learning experiences among students and set out to create meaningful change. 
 

As she transitioned into leadership roles, Dr. Jacob focused on prioritizing student-centered learning and creating equitable systems of support across all areas of education. Dr. Jacob currently serves as the Executive Director of Student Learning for the Selah School District. Prior to this position, Dr. Jacob held several other leadership positions in Yakima Public Schools including director and assistant superintendent. Dr. Jacob's leadership is characterized by her commitment to data-driven decision-making, relationship building, and clear communication with all stakeholders. Her vision for education is one where every student feels valued and supported, and where diverse learning needs are met with tailored strategies that promote success.
 

Dr. Jacob embodies ESD 105’s Core Values: embracing transparent two-way communication with active listening, remaining open to change and innovation, and by practicing equity and empathy at the heart of all that she does. ESD 105 is excited for the positive impact Dr. Jacob will bring to the agency and the districts we serve, and we look forward to her innovative leadership in fostering a supportive and equitable educational environment for all. 


 

Attached Media Files: DrAliciaJacob