Staff Achievement Grant Recipients

Walla Walla Public Schools has named its 2021-2022 Staff Achievement Grant recipients. The program started in 1988 to recognize teachers and support staff for superior performance, innovation, exemplary leadership and exceptional service. Staff Achievement Grant recipients, who are nominated and chosen by their peers, receive a $1,500 stipend and five days of paid release time for professional growth activities.

2021-2022 Staff Achievement Recipients

Clayton Hudiburg (Science Teacher – Walla Walla High School)
- Nominators: Mary Burt and Braden Hisaw.

Hudiburg helps lead the school’s Grading Coalition and was instrumental in creating awareness about the impact of grading practices. He has played a critical role in helping staff reflect on their own grading practices. Clayton advises the school’s Green Club and helped secure solar panels for the new science building. He is also trained in AVID, was formerly the head wrestling coach and serves as the Science Department Head.

Jennifer Matson (Lead Behavior Specialist)
- Nominators: Eric Matson, Christy Krutulis, Barb Casey and Maria Garcia

Matson has been an educator for more than 20 years, and has had several roles during her nine years in the district. In addition to being the lead behavior specialist, she also serves as the lead mentor for the new elementary counselors.

Melissa Bates (Green Park Para-Educator in the Life Skills REACH room)
- Nominators: Janifer Sams, Amy Hartford and Esther Angotti
Melissa consistently shows her love for the special needs students she serves in Green Park’s Life Skills REACH room. She has a calm and consistent nature. Melissa led a school-wide National Autism and Downs Syndrome Day which included decorating the halls with colorful posters, artwork and information.

Shari Strickland (Substitute Coordinator – District office)
- Nominators: Susie Golden, Veronica Esparza, Pam Jacobson and Nichole Michels.
In addition to making sure there are substitutes in the building every day, Shari also takes charge in supporting the hiring and training of substitutes. This spring, Shari decorated the district office to show appreciation for all of the substitutes by creating a Hall of Appreciation. More than 40 substitutes stopped by and walked the Hall of Appreciation which featured jokes, puns, WWPS water bottles and candy.

Peggy Payne (Science Teacher – Walla Walla High School)
- Nominators: Kim Cassetto, Clayton Hudiburg and Jessica Johnson
Payne has the unique ability to set and hold high academic standards, tailor educational experiences to individual student needs, and foster an environment of belonging. Peggy has worked in the district for 15 years. She has taught AVID, freshman science, AP Biology, physical science for agriculture, biotechnology and plant biology. Peggy has unbelievable energy and enthusiasm for teaching. Stop in her classroom and students are up on their feet engaged with the scientific method.

“These outstanding staff members have excelled in their craft in supporting our vision of Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates,” said Assistant Superintendent Chris Gardea. “Now in its fourth decade, the Staff Achievement Grant Program is our way to recognize staff who have been nominated by their peers for their exceptional service.”

Photo L-R: Melissa Bates, Peggy Payne, Clayton Hudiburg, Shari Strickland and Jennifer Matson.

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