Nicki Burkhauser, Denise Daniels and Melinda Wentzel. COURTESY PHOTOS

Nicki Burkhauser, Denise Daniels and Melinda Wentzel. COURTESY PHOTOS

School board to honor Classified Employees of the Year

Burkhauser, Daniels and Wentzel recognized for their work in the district

The Auburn School District Board of Directors recognizes Nicki Burkhauser, Denise Daniels and Melinda Wentzel as the Classified Employees of the Year at 7 p.m., Monday, March 11 in the James P. Fugate Administration building.

This awards program recognizes the work of classified staff who have made a positive difference in their profession. They will be considered for the Puget Sound ESD Regional Classified Employee of the Year. Classified staff work in positions that do not require professional educational certifications.

Burkhauser, a 2014 Auburn Mountainview High School graduate, is in her second year as a para-educator in the Pathways program at Lea Hill Elementary where she works with students with significant social/emotional and behavior needs. She thoroughly enjoys helping students be successful at school and has a knack for building relationships with students, staff and families.

“We are extremely fortunate to work with Nicki each and every day,” Lea Hill Principal Ed Herda said.

Daniels is the assistant director of equity, outreach and family engagement. She has served in the Auburn School District for five years. In her role, she is instrumental in defining engagement and equity programs.

Daniels enjoys connecting with others. She views her role as an opportunity to educate people to be better advocates for students.

“Denise is critical to our much-needed efforts in cultivating a culture of success for all students, and a welcoming school environment for all families,” said Rhonda Larson, assistant superintendent of family engagement and student success.

Wentzel has spent the last two years as a para-educator in language arts classes at Auburn Mountainview. She previously worked at Rainier Middle School for 17 years. She plays an active role in helping with lesson plans and providing support to the teacher and students. She has a genuine love for and interest in her students and their lives outside of school.

“Melinda embodies what it means to be a caring and compassionate teacher and mentor,” said Auburn Mountainview teacher Kady Buchanan.


Auburn’s Justin Ye (College of Letters and Science, bachelor of science, neurobiology, psychology) received his degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison during the winter commencement ceremony. About 1,300 graduates took part.

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