In the northwest corner of Lynnwood, at the Best Little School in the Universe, miracles happen daily.
Lynndale Elementary is a school that, if one believes the statistics, should be among the most challenged. The free lunch population hovers at 49.3 percent, nearly 20 percent of the families are English Language Learners, and the number of students moving in and out within the school year increases every year. The recession has hit Lynnale’s demographic hard. So, how to explain this school’s unofficial title of Best Little School in the Universe? Lynndale’s open house last week revealed some of the reasons to celebrate.
The evening began with the presentation of three annual PTA Awards; Golden Acorn, Outstanding Advocate and Outstanding Educator. This year’s honorees reflect the best, and their work testifies to what makes this school so special.
Golden Acorn winner is Beth Zollars, PTA President, mother of four, full time worker outside her home, and overtime everything! Beth and her husband Scott moved to Lynnwood just before their oldest, now a student at Meadowdale High School, was born. Beth currently has kids enrolled in Meadowdale High, Meadowdale Middle, Lynndale, as well as a pre-schooler who will start kindergarten at Lynndale next year.
Despite the challenges, Beth manages to juggle everything. Not just active in the school communities, Beth is also a positive force in her neighborhood. Her family hosts an annual 4th of July neighborhood water balloon fight followed by popsicles that’s brought neighbors together for years. She’s served as PTA Treasurer, and this year stepped up to take over the presidency. Positive, cheerful, capable and committed to building the kind of community we all hope to share, Beth gives from her heart.
Outstanding Advocate is Pam Beresford, a grandmother of three Lynndale students, a retired teacher, a community activist who is a key recruiter for Lynndale’s “Grandparent and Retired Friends” program, a regularly scheduled classroom volunteer, a mover and shaker (and heavy can lifter!) in the twice-each-year school Food Drive, and a dedicated liaison between Lynndale and the civic and business community that so generously supports the school.
Pam and her husband Dick, of the Edmonds Law Firm Beresford Booth, have coordinated donations for everything from Family Support during the holidays to gifts and grants for Lynndale’s After School program, as well as regular donations to the school’s Food Backpack efforts. Pam knows, and is well known by, countless students in whose classrooms she has volunteered over the years. Just signing in at the school office takes time as Pam greets and is greeted by all her young friends. Mrs. Beresford is a friend to all!
Outstanding Educator is fourth grade teacher Peggy Hohnhaus. A veteran Lynndale fourth grade teacher, Peggy is one of the “go-to” people in the school. Tom Trexel, a former colleague who has just been selected a principal in the Edmonds District for the coming year, shared the following in an email: “I wanted to pass on my heartfelt congratulations to Peggy. She truly deserves this honor! Her kind guidance through the years helped me to avert multiple teaching catastrophes. She has been universally loved by her students and the bedrock of 4th grade success for many years. I miss seeing her smiling face every day, and her positive, can-do spirit was a constant source of inspiration to me.”
Mrs. Hohnhaus’ dedication to education is evident outside her classroom, too. She has coordinated the annual Lynndale Spelling Bee for many years, making sure that 3rd through 6th graders have the opportunity to experience first-hand the wonder of the national Scripps event. This year she also took on the major task of leading Lynndale’s Best Book Club, a 4th through 6th grade competition between Edmonds District schools. Beyond managing the meetings and logistics of the club, Mrs. Hohnhaus committed to reading each one of the 20 books in order to better discuss and quiz her young team of readers. Peggy’s kindness, compassion, caring and dedication are unparalleled, and have earned her a special place in the hearts of all the students and families she has touched over the years.
Edmonds District Librarians will be presenting a lovely memorial tribute to the school community in memory of long-time Lynndale librarian Kris Galante, who lost her fight with cancer last summer. Because Mrs. Galante was such a guiding light, her loss was felt throughout the district. Her colleagues presented her a basket of books and book related items that they know Kris would have loved.
The school is also in the middle of celebrating National Public School Volunteer Week. “Hall of Fame” posters celebrating close to 250 people who have volunteered their time will decorate the gym. Volunteer hours donated from the start of the school year through March total 2,775!
Chris Kratz is the office manager at Lynndale Elementary.