Auburn educator named School Employee of the Year

Lori Sanford, an office manager who began as a parent volunteer, is the heart of Lea Hill Elementary.  - Courtesy photo
Lori Sanford, an office manager who began as a parent volunteer, is the heart of Lea Hill Elementary.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Lori Sanford, the office manager at Lea Hill Elementary School in the Auburn School District, is the 2010 Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn recognized the eight Regional Classified School Employees of the Year and announced the State Classified School Employee of the Year at a ceremony Wednesday in the Old Capitol Building in Olympia.

“Lori and all of the regional finalists demonstrate what adifference an individual can make in their school, district and community,” Dorn said. “Their commitment to our kids has not wavered. Despite the significant challenges facing education and our state, Lori and her colleagues continue keep the big picture in view and always put our students first. They are examples for us all.”

Sanford was chosen by a state selection committee comprised of award-winning educators and representatives from the following organizations: Public School Employees of Washington; Washington Education Association; Washington State Board of Education; Washington State Parent Teacher Association; Washington Association of School Administrators; and Washington State School Directors Association.

Sanford first walked through the doors at Lea Hill as the parent of a kindergartener in 1982. She quickly became an indispensible parent volunteer in the library, the resource room, and on the PTA and district committees.

In 1992, Sanford joined the staff at Lea Hill, where she has remained for the past 18 years as the office manager.

Sanford’s primary goal is to provide a welcoming, safe, learning environment for all students. She is known for her upbeat, friendly demeanor and unparalleled work ethic. She is hailed by her colleagues as a “true professional,” the “poster person for efficiency” and “a joy to work with.”

Sanford supports the smooth, daily operations of Lea Hill, including managing school budgets and substitutes; greeting students and families; publishing school newsletters; organizing daily schedules and the principal’s calendar; and even chairing the school’s safety committee that was awarded multiple grants to purchase safety equipment for the school crossing zone.

“Everything (Lori) does contributes to our primary goal—increase student achievement,” said Lea Hill Principal Ed Herda. “She treats all patrons with respect. She helps me keep things in perspective. Her positive and professional attitude is a constant reminder for me to do the same, even on tough days.”

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