The North Central Educational Service District (NCESD) has selected Kara Babst, Eastmont School District, as the 2022 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year for the North Central Washington region.
She is now eligible for state honors through the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. State winners will be announced in September.
Babst is a paraeducator in the Developmental Preschool program at Eastmont School District and has been working with Wee Cougars Preschool since 2018. In her position, Babst serves students with high levels of Special Education needs in small group and one-on-one settings while helping them integrate into general education classrooms.
“This requires Kara to think flexibly, react quickly, and problem solve intentionally on a regular basis,” said Ami Collins, Assistant Special Education Director, Early Learning at Eastmont School District. “She excels at these tasks and is an invaluable asset to our program.”
For the past five years, Babst has been working alongside her colleagues at Eastmont School District to make a difference in the lives of the children she works with. She enjoys being a part of students achieving long-term goals that help them succeed in academics and everyday life.
Not only is she a leader to her students, but she has become a strong leader to fellow paraeducators. She was able to take her experience from previously leading a daycare to help her peers see the importance and value of visual schedules for special needs preschoolers. This introduction alone helped one student easily transition from one station to another with ease – a skill he had not been able to master before the visual schedule was introduced.
Babst says being an advocate for special needs children in the school and greater community is one of the most important parts of her job.
“Giving those around me a first hand experience on what working with these delightful children is like has an impact,” she added. “My stories bring awareness to the fact that these children are in our community and I hope it can help bridge the divide between community members and these students.”
In addition to her role at Wee Cougars Preschool, Babst received her emergency substitute certificate during the 2021-22 school year and has filled the role of substitute teacher in several classrooms during the year. She hopes to complete her education degree and become a teacher.
The Classified School Employee of the Year program recognizes excellence in the work of public-school employees, including paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, food service workers, and others. Anyone may nominate a classified public school employee for this award, which is overseen by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). All completed nominations are sent to the regional coordinator at each Educational Service District, and the regional winner is selected by committee. Babst is one of nine regional winners who will go on to compete for the State Classified School Employee of the Year award.
After advancing on to the statewide competition, regional finalists will be recognized by OSPI at an annual award ceremony in Olympia (date TBD), where OSPI will announce their selection of the State Classified School Employee of the Year.