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Gervais school employee receives outstanding instructional assistant award

Melinda Fitz-Henry, an instructional assistant and office manager at Samuel Brown Academy in Gervais, has been presented with the Bob Barr Outstanding Innovative Instructional Assistant Award.by: SUBMITTED - Melinda Fitz-Henry, an instructional assistant and office manager at Samuel Brown Academy in Gervais, was awarded the Bob Barr Outstanding Innovative Instructional Assistant Award on Oct. 11.

The award was provided through the Northwest Innovative Schools Network at its annual conference on Oct. 11, which was hosted by Gervais School District. The conference was developed to address isolation expressed by alternative school educators and provides professional development and networking on Oregon statewide inservice day.

According to her nomination form, Fitz-Henry “serves students, supports teachers and balances the complex and diverse needs of a demanding and sometimes difficult student population. She encourages students by letting them know that they can meet the high academic expectations in our school, regardless of their past and present circumstances and academic history. She is understanding and creative at adapting resources to meet students’ needs and regularly goes out of her way to make school work for students who often have not previously experienced academic success.”

The nomination went on to say that Fitz-Henry, a mother of nine, advocates for all students, but particularly for teen parents and homeless students.

Bob Barr, the namesake of the award, is an author and educator who devoted his career to promoting hope through education and served as dean of education at Oregon State and Boise State University. According to Northwest Innovative Schools Network (NWISN), innovative schools often operate like a small family with staff and students referring to each other by first names and caring for one another day in and day out. This award is presented to an outstanding instructional assistant that demonstrates the ability to maintain high expectations for excellence while caring and meeting the needs of our students.