Erin Wood Named 2020 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Erin Wood Named 2020 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Erin Wood, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Behavioral Health Specialist in the Monroe School District, has been named 2020 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year by the Northwest Educational Service District 189 (NWESD).

For the past five years, Ms. Wood has filled a unique role, traveling between five elementary schools, two middle schools, one comprehensive school, and two alternative learning experience schools in the Monroe School District. Each day she collaborates with building leaders, counselors, teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, and students (elementary to post-high school transition students).Ms. Wood said, "I am very proud of the work we do at Monroe School District and am grateful for the support of our members. Our school community is made up of many staff, parents, and students who seek to improve our overall psychological and physical well being."

As a licensed mental health counselor, Wood specializes in the prevention and intervention of youth suicide. She uses this ability to serve students who express suicidal thoughts or behaviors and helps them to navigate the critical steps that follow such a disclosure. Research shows that connection with a trusted adult is the second leading protective factor against youth suicide in addition to effective mental health care.

In her application essay Ms. Wood wrote, "Nothing is more important to my heart and mind than being a trusted adult for a young person in their time of need."

As the district's primary voice on mental health, Ms. Wood regularly consults on the social-emotional needs of students at every level. The Monroe School District is working to improve the overall service for the Whole Child, and not just the academic learning of its young people. This includes consideration for the child's basic needs and awareness of the impact of potential trauma experiences.

Some of Ms. Wood's roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments include:

  • Co-leads the Monroe SD Crisis Response Team.
  • Lead efforts to reduce student suicide attempts through evidence-based programming such as: The Signs of Suicide Program, student-led Sources of Strength Program, Coping and Support Training Program, 1:1 Student Stabilization Counseling.
  • Monroe SD's Healthy Youth Survey results showed that student suicide attempts dropped from 17.1% to 6.7% in two years.
  • Tailors interventions to serve both adult and student classroom successes.
  • Serves on building level and district wide Student Threat Assessment Teams and is an advocate for school safety and mental health.
  • Provides annual Youth Mental Health First Aid training.

"One of the things that impressed the selection committee was Ms. Wood's dedication to the mental health and safety for the students of the Monroe School District. She handles implementation of Sources of Strength, a program dedicated to identifying trusted adults, building awareness of existing supports, and developing strategies for school and peer engagement. She is a voice and leader for Monroe in addressing the Whole Child especially around trauma informed instruction and social emotional learning," said David Forsythe, Assistant Superintendent Operations NWESD.

Monroe High School Assistant Principal Jeannette Siemers said, "Ms. Wood effortlessly builds a strong rapport and respectful relationship with every student she encounters. She meets them where they are at and provides a safe space for each and every one."

Chris Jury, Wood's co-worker, said, "It is my firm belief that Ms. Wood is saving lives. There can be no more important metric in assessing qualifications for this award."

"Erin Wood is the definition of an unsung hero and her impact is worthy of recognition; she embodies the very best of Monroe School District's commitment to every student. Her candle burns brightly, her light shines widely, and our school community has been quietly transformed by her effort and passion."
– Joe Neigel, Prevention Services Manager Monroe SD

The Classified School Employee of the Year program recognizes excellence in the work of public-school employees, including paraeducators, 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; the regional winner is selected by committee. Wood is one of nine regional winners who will 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 its selection of the State Classified School Employee of the Year.

For more information on these awards, contact OSPI Recognition Coordinator Hilary Seidel at 360-725-6117.

The NWESD, located in Anacortes, is one of nine Educational Service Districts in Washington State. The NWESD serves 35 school districts in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Island, and San Juan counties, providing leadership and cooperative services to the educational communities in the northwest region.

Jessica Haag, NWESD Communications Specialist | 360-299-4714