Gregory Heights Elementary School
16201 16th Avenue SW Burien, WA 98166

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These Are Your Gold Stars

These Are Your Gold Stars

2024 Gold Star Winners

The Highline Schools Foundation announced the winners of its 2024 Gold Star Awards, highlighting the outstanding efforts of Highline educators, staff, volunteers and alumni. These eight individuals live the Highline Promise to know every student by name, strength and need, so that our students graduate prepared for the future they choose. 

  • Outstanding Teacher: Erin Enquist, 4th Grade Dual Language Teacher at Mount View Elementary
  • Outstanding Rookie Teacher: Kristen O'Conner, Special Education Teacher at Gregory Heights Elementary
  • Outstanding Administrator: Kevin Takisaki, Principal at Innovation Heights Academy
  • Outstanding Professional Staff: Jill Wilson Zahn, EBC Social Worker, Secondary Schools
  • Outstanding Classified Staff: Lisa Lay, Office Manager at Hilltop Elementary
  • Outstanding Volunteer: Nimat Aljabori, White Center Heights Elementary Family Resource Center
  • Outstanding Alumni: Sean Goode, Mount Rainier High School Class of 1999
  • Special Recognition Award: Scott Logan, Chief Operations Officer, Highline Public Schools
2024 Gold Star Award Winners

This year’s Gold Star nominee field was the largest in five years, with nearly double the nominations over last year. This year, 118 individuals representing 36 schools, programs, and departments across Highline were nominated. Read on to learn more about what makes each of these eight winners extraordinary.

Outstanding Teacher

Erin Enquist, 4th Grade Dual Language Teacher at Mount View Elementary

Erin Enquist shines as a fourth-grade teacher, celebrated for her exceptional commitment to student growth. Erin received eight nominations for Outstanding Teacher. Erin's dedication to understanding and nurturing her students' individual strengths and needs stands out. She fosters a positive, supportive classroom environment, starting each day with optimism and unwavering support. Erin's efforts extend beyond the classroom, actively engaging parents to foster a collaborative educational community.

Outstanding Rookie Teacher

Kristen O'Conner, Special Education Teacher at Gregory Heights Elementary

Kristen O'Conner has transitioned from a special education paraeducator to a special education teacher with unparalleled dedication. Achieving full certification and completing her master’s degree while teaching full-time, Kristen embodies the Highline Promise by personally knowing each student's strengths and needs. Her tireless work ethic, from early morning until evening, demonstrates her exceptional commitment to her students, school, and personal growth.

Outstanding Administrator

Kevin Takisaki, Principal at Innovation Heights Academy

As principal of Innovation Heights Academy (formerly New Start High School), Kevin Takisaki has transformed the educational experience with a project-based learning model tailored for students facing barriers. Garnering seven nominations, Kevin's visionary leadership and commitment to equity have fostered an inclusive, empowering school environment. Praised for his warmth, empathy, and effective leadership, Kevin inspires his staff and students alike, steering them towards a collaborative and supportive educational journey.

Outstanding Professional Staff

Jill Wilson Zahn, Social Worker, Secondary Schools

With over two decades of service, Social Worker Jill Wilson Zahn is celebrated for her impact on students across Highline middle and high schools. Jill creates a supportive and welcoming environment where students feel heard, understood and valued. Her ability to listen and communicate has made her an indispensable part of the Highline community. Jill supports students not only at school but in private practice. She is an exemplar in her commitment to supporting students and families. 

Outstanding Classified Staff

Lisa Lay, Office Manager at Hilltop Elementary

Hilltop Elementary Office Manager Lisa Lay is the welcoming face and heart of Hilltop Elementary. Known for her organizational skills, empathy, and unwavering dedication, Lisa plays a pivotal role in fostering a supportive and efficient environment. Her efforts in connecting people with resources have significantly contributed to the school's sense of community and smooth operation, making a lasting impact on students, families, and staff.

Outstanding Volunteer

Nimat Aljabori, White Center Heights Elementary Family Resource Center

Nimat Aljabori is a cherished volunteer at White Center Heights Elementary's Family Resource Center, which provides for families basic needs such as diapers, clothes, toys, books, shoes, household goods, and fruits and vegetables. Her dedication to the center has made a significant difference in the local community. Her dedication to organizing and offering assistance have made the center a cornerstone of the community, demonstrating her profound commitment to helping those in need.

Outstanding Alumni

Sean Goode, Mount Rainier High School Class of 1999

Sean Goode, a multifaceted leader and advocate for youth, is a vocal champion and supporter of Highline Public Schools. Driven by the mantras "possibilities over problems," and "grace over guilt," Sean inspires his community to look for the good in others and bring out the best in themselves. As the founding executive director of Choose 180, Sean's work in transforming educational and youth justice systems has left an indelible mark on the community. His dedication to supporting students to learn from their mistakes and choose a path to success is inspiring. Sean is living proof of the profound impact one individual can have on the lives of many.

Special Recognition Award

Scott Logan, Chief Operations Officer, Highline Public Schools

Scott Logan has significantly contributed to the operational excellence of Highline Public Schools through his role as Chief Operations Officer. From pioneering eco-friendly initiatives to fostering equity in the youth justice system, Scott's diverse background, including his service as a fire chief and pilot, has equipped him with unique skills that benefit Highline. Known for his positive energy and strong relationships, Scott's leadership has cultivated a culture of belonging, benefiting the entire Highline community.

Gold Star Breakfast

The Gold Star Winners will be celebrated at the 2024 Gold Star Fundraising Breakfast, on Friday, May 3 at Cedarbrook Lodge in SeaTac. More information can be found on the Foundation’s website.