Hazen High School teacher receives chamber award

April 30, 2009

By Staff

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Vanessa Del Fierro, a language arts teacher at Hazen High School, was among five Renton teachers winning this year’s Renton Chamber of Commerce Ahead of the Class Excellence in Education Awards.

A special prize patrol led by Renton Schools Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel made a surprise visit to Del Fierro’s classroom last month to tell her she won.

After substituting in the Highline School District for a year, Del Fierro moved to Hazen, where she’s taught since 2004.

Hazen journalism teacher Ben Graeber said Del Fierro is an inspiration to colleagues and students.

Renton Schools Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel (second from left); Darrell Doepke, of Oil Can Henry’s in Renton Highlands; and Renton School Board member Pam Teal surprise Hazen High School language arts teacher Vanessa Del Fierro (left) with news of the award.  Contributed

Renton Schools Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel (second from left); Darrell Doepke, of Oil Can Henry’s in Renton Highlands; and Renton School Board member Pam Teal surprise Hazen High School language arts teacher Vanessa Del Fierro (left) with news of the award. Contributed

“As someone who works in the same department, I can attest to her patience, her positive nature, her thoughtful comments and her inspiring planning,” Graeber said. “She is the type of teacher who puts thought and care into every assignment she provides to the students.”

The other winners include John Austin, of Dimmitt Middle School; Melissa Barnard, of Nelson Middle School; Jessica Buchan, of Renton High School; and Kelley Miller, of Kennydale Elementary School.

The winning teachers will each receive $500 and be honored at a ceremony May 5.

School staff members, parents and students nominated about 100 teachers, nine teams of teachers and community members for the annual award offered by the Renton business community to honor teachers.

Two committees of community and business leaders reviewed applications and conducted personal interviews of the teachers to select this year’s winners. 

The criteria for naming the award winners are based on national standards for teaching. The award is a partnership between the Renton Chamber of Commerce, Renton public and private schools, and businesses in Renton. 

The aim of the program is to enhance community awareness of the excellence of education in Renton, said Randy Matheson, district spokesman.

Nominees for this year’s Ahead of the Class awards from Newcastle schools include Cathy Dean, Lorena Franco, Sandra Hachtel, Julie Hohn and Julie Randall, of Hazelwood Elementary School; Cathy Ames and Brett Crueger, of Hazen; and Michelle Hayes, Carlie Jonas and Emily Kolczynski, of McKnight Middle School.

Ahead of the Class awards ceremony

  • 7 p.m. May 5
  •  Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center
  • Renton High School
  •  400 S. Second St.
  • The event is free and open to the public.  
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