The Hermiston School District announced its annual awards for the year, and topping the list was Rocky Heights Elementary School Principal B.J. Wilson, who was named Hermiston’s Administrator of the Year.

“It feels amazing,” Wilson said of earning the award. “The Hermiston School District administration is a stellar group. To be singled out is quite an honor.”

Wilson has worked in the district for 12 years. He first came to Hermiston in 1998 as a teacher at Rocky Heights where he taught kindergarten, first and fourth grades. He then later served as the assistant to the principal for two years.

In 2001, he moved to Desert View Elementary School where he taught fourth grade and also served as the assistant to the principal. According to a district press release, he was also a key member of the planning team to open Desert View.

Wilson briefly left Hermiston in 2003 to serve in his first administrative position as the principal of Sam Boardman Elementary School in Morrow County. Under his leadership, the school saw significant academic gains, earning a “strong” rating on the Oregon State Report Card. At that same time, the district opened Windy River Elementary School next door to Sam Boardman. Wilson supervised both buildings. He also served in the district as the special education director.

In 2007, Wilson returned to the Hermiston School District where he took on the role as principal of Rocky Heights. Superintendent Fred Maiocco said he has since led the team at Rocky Heights with exceptional grace and poise.

“He is universally recognized among our administrators as a strong and gifted leader,” he said.

Wilson said even though winning the award is a wonderful honor, he doesn’t see recognition as his driving force. He said he strives for excellence to help the students of the Hermiston community be successful in whatever endeavor they choose. Wilson said he wouldn’t be anything without the support of his wife, Crystal Wilson, and staff at Rocky Heights.

“The old saying is that behind every great man is a great woman,” he said. “In my case, I do have an amazing wife and educator in Crystal, but I also have the best staff out there. Their commitment to their students as well as their commitment to excellence is the reason we are successful.”

Wilson and the nine educators of the year will be recognized at the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Citizens Award Banquet on Feb. 5.

The following are the teachers who were chosen as educators of the year:

Hermiston High School

Lisa Frye has been working with the University of Oregon doctoral students who team teach with her in the chemistry lab. Together they are developing a college-level chemistry lab course for teachers throughout the nation to use.

Pam Glantz is a mentor to young and experienced teachers alike sharing her resources, lessons and advice freely. Her lessons cause students to think critically about the world of economics or how history has impacted people’s lives today.

Armand Larive Middle School

Haley Winters is in her fifth year of working with middle school students. Outside of school, Winters is a volleyball coach, and this year was one of the primary driving forces behind the Armand Larive Middle School H-DUB (homework) Club, which brings teachers together after school to voluntarily help students with their homework two days a week.

Sandstone Middle School

Sandra Wise-Warner is a teacher who uses new methods and takes professional development to her classroom. Creating understanding, meaning, and subject vocabulary have become a daily part of her instruction.

Desert View Elementary School

Jessica McCann realizes each student has individual needs and is willing to differentiate instruction to meet them at their level. McCann is always willing to “switch it up” so the students are engaged and having fun.

Highland Hills Elementary School

Cassie Anderson tracks student goals and accomplishments and navigates the rocky triangle between SpEd Room, general classroom and home.

Rocky Heights Elementary School

Lindsay Murdock is a teacher whose students are driven to succeed and be part of a non-stop learning atmosphere that excels learning, while still including hands-on, meaningful engagements to all students.

Sunset Elementary School

Jackie Whitesell works collaboratively with staff to keep all of her students in the least restrictive environment, through the management of the instructional aides.

West Park Elementary School

Third-grade teacher Mary Gorham consistently looks to do things better, whether it’s a teaching strategy in her classroom, or a bulletin board in the hallway. Gorham teaches others to give their best for the students, to wear a smile, to have faith and to remember that life’s storms can often produce rainbows and new growth.

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