NTPS Teacher Named Washington State Teacher of the Year!

Jerad Koepp, a Native American student program specialist at North Thurston Public Schools in Lacey, has been named the Washington state teacher of the year for 2022, the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction announced Monday.

Koepp has been a teacher for 16 years, including eight years in his current role.

Koepp provides cultural and academic support for about 230 Native American students from more than 50 tribes, nations, bands, and villages in the 22-school district, according to OSPI.


*Photo is courtesy of the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Support NTEF at the Firecreek Ale House Charity Scramble Golf Tournament on Saturday, September 18!

NTEF is pleased to have been selected as the supported charity for the 12th Annual Charity Scramble Golf Tournament at Firecreek Ale House on Saturday, September 18.



Entry: $100 per player / $400 per team

Entry fee includes range balls, golf cart, dinner plus fun and prizes.

See more information and the entry form: Firecreek Golf tournament entry form 2021

Sponsorship Opportunities are available. Learn more here 2021 NTEF Golf Sponsorship Opportunities


We hope to see you on the course!

Student Scholarship Testimonial!




















We are so pleased to be able to help students like Danielle and wish her and all our other scholarship recipients success in the future!

Our student assistance grants, learning improvement grants and scholarships all help students in North Thurston overcome barriers to successful learning.


A Student Thank You

We recently received a note from Jennifer Gould, North Thurston Public School  – McKinney Vento Student Navigator at Timberline High School.

Good Afternoon Mike,

Thank you NTEF for supporting our seniors at Timberline High School. Not only did this student appreciate the cap & gown but also took the opportunity to say thank you for supporting Timberline Senior Social.

Jennifer forwarded a note a student had hand-written expressing thanks!

Thanks to YOU for your continued generosity that allows us to support students in NTPS!

We are Pleased to Have Awarded $181,500 in Scholarships to 46 Graduating Seniors

The North Thurston Education Foundation has awarded scholarships with a total value of $181,500 to 46 graduating seniors from North Thurston Public Schools.

“We are delighted to award scholarships to 46 of our graduating NTPS seniors. Our selection process was very competitive this year due to the high quality of our student applications. These students, who spent most of their final two years of high school learning online, are articulate, strong, and resilient. It is an honor to support them as they take their next steps in life. We are thankful to our gracious donors who support the North Thurston Education Foundation Scholarship program. Due to their generosity, several newly named scholarships were offered this year. We appreciate the kindness of this community and their support of our students and schools, “ said Beth Utto-Galarneau, Scholarship Chair.

Scholarships awarded range from $2,000 to $14,000. Applications were evaluated on several factors, including academic achievement, school and community activities, references, quality of the required essay and financial need.

Named Scholarships: The scholarship program includes designated named endowed scholarships and Foundation-funded scholarships.
In 2021, 20 named scholarships were awarded to the following students:

Alex Ward Memorial Scholarship – Joseph Oliver – North Thurston
Bakala State Farm Scholarship – Paige Madrid – River Ridge
Bill Williams Memorial Scholarship – Makayla Hamlin – River Ridge
Charles E. Callahan Education Scholarship – Austin Caswell – North Thurston
Colton Thorstrom Smith Scholarship – Cindy Villa Cervantes – River Ridge
Lisa Corwin Memorial Scholarship – Samir Amin – North Thurston
Davies Vocational-Technical Scholarship – Garrett Whitely – River Ridge
Frank Parker Memorial Scholarship – Julie Vu – Timberline
Friends and Family Scholarship – Danielle Hunter – Timberline
James Koval Memorial Scholarship – Austin Benjamin – River Ridge
Jeannette Hostetter Ford Memorial Scholarship-  Ja’Lynn Howard – River Ridge
John Gott Education Scholarship – Aaron Kelly – Timberline
Roy Pedersen Memorial Scholarship – Taja Brooks – Timberline
Dr. G. Sue Shannon Scholarship – Keikilani Naipo – Timberline
Nicholas T. Walker Scholarship – Baylen Ratliff – River Ridge
United Youth Movement Scholarship – David Guillen – Timberline
Lewis R. Hawthorne & Edna C. Hawthorne Scholarships –
Mateo Abadesco – Timberline
Corbin Reeves – Timberline
Ethan Warner – North Thurston
Haven Barnes – North Thurston

Foundation Scholarships: Foundation Scholarships are awarded annually. In 2021, 26 foundation scholarships were awarded to the following students:

North Thurston High School: Rhea Lynne Herradura, Joel Hugdahl, Kaiana Delos Santos, Zachary Mayer, Shane Avery, Sage Barnes, Nicole Krambs and Dylan Sutton

River Ridge High School: Annabelle Kirkwood, Chloe Buchanan, Chandler Ketelsen, Jeremy Stalcup, Keyona Tartt and Makayli Taylor

Timberline High School: Myia Avent, Natalie Nguyen, Sarah Horlacher, Seiji Naotsuka, Natalie Scott, Kailynn Faltenberger, Noelani Allison, Eli Bell, Benjamin Rim, Chloey Olson, Elise MacDonald and Kodi Smith-Cruz

Sixteen of the scholarships are named after individuals in the community and funded by bequests from or donations on behalf of the persons they are named. The remaining scholarships were funded solely by the Foundation’s annual fund-raising and by an unrestricted grant from the Dawkins Charitable Trust. To view a list of scholarship establishment history and details, visit: https://ntef.org/special-named-endowed-scholarships/.
Congratulations students and best of luck with all your future endeavors! 

Olympic View Elementary Testimonial 

Good Morning Michael,

I just wanted to thank you and NTEF for helping to make our Reading Initiative a rousing success. In this incredibly challenging time, encouraging and teaching reading skills has been exceptionally difficult. Without a doubt, this initiative has helped to boost students, families, and staff in their effort, skill, and enthusiasm for reading. In the eight-week run of our program, we utilized Flipgrid to allow students to read some of their favorite books aloud; these videos were available to the whole school to enjoy. We selected some of the best and greatest examples of increased skill to promote and encourage reading through book gift certificate rewards. The three chosen read alouds were shared with the school weekly (both in remote & hybrid class settings), giving the student population a chance to listen for comprehension and answer three questions on a Kahoot online game.

The reading committee spent countless hours listening to student readings and developing appropriate Kahoot questions to create the weekly games. With the addition of our PTA’s support, we were able to extend our program and utilize your funds for primarily book gift certificates. Many of our entrants and winners came from our learning assistance program, which is an amazing gift of confidence and encouragement from staff and peers.

Our Read-Aloud Challenge Initiative was featured weekly in our morning announcements, sharing the three winning readers (and gift certificate winners) and challenging students to listen and answer the Kahoot to win prizes. Our principal then spun the “wheel of names,” which included all the individuals who answered 100% correctly in the previous week to determine the group of that week’s winners. We had 140 read alouds submitted, 2,943 views of those readings, 251 positive comments on the readings, 243 hours of engagement, and 443 Kahoot entries throughout the run of this program.

We cannot thank you enough for your generous grant, as it has enriched both a love of lifelong reading for participants and enhanced our school community as a whole.  I hope you find it to have been a worthwhile investment, as we certainly have.

Jesse Klemonsky, on behalf of the OVE Reading Committee
Kindergarten Room #103
Olympic View Elementary

Board Member Profile: Sans Gilmore

We recently talked with NTEF Board Member Sans Gilmore. Enjoy our conversation below!

NTEF: How did you first become involved with NTEF?
Sans: I met Mike Jones about three years ago during a local marketing meeting. I came to understand the NTEF mission through Mike and started donating.

NTEF: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Sans: I enjoy gardening, agate hunting, and traveling with my wife. We have our garden planted for this year, including 270 garlic plants. Earlier this month, we took a four-day weekend trip to the Oregon coast to hunt for agates. We found about 20 pounds worth. Last weekend we spent four days with our daughter, who the US Dept of Agriculture recently hired as an entomologist in Blaine, WA.

NTEF: How do you believe the community can best support the work of NTEF, particularly now during COVID-19?
Sans: I am a firm believer in the NTEF mission. And, two of the best ways to help NTEF are to volunteer (e.g., to pack lunches) and donate. The volunteers meet at Columbia Bank in Lacey and organize and pack donated food for ongoing distribution to students. NTEF supports many homeless students and students who depend on NTEF for supplemental food, scholarships, etc. COVID-19 interrupted the usual support programs. However, the NTEF Board and other supporters are geniuses, and they figured out ways to help their students even when their students could not attend school on campus. Volunteers make the system work. Concerning donations, you don’t need to donate a lot. I suggest $10/month but make it a recurring donation. NTEF is a great program, and Mike Jones is a great leader.

Board Member Profile: Monty Sabin – Assistant Superintendent, North Thurston Public Schools 

We recently talked with Monty Sabin, Board Member and Assistant Superintendent at NTPS, to learn more about his involvement with NTEF and how to best support students and families during this time. Enjoy our conversation below.

NTEF: How did you first become involved with NTEF?
Monty: I joined NTEF when I began working for North Thurston Public Schools in the Fall of 2015. I serve as the primary point of contact between the Foundation and the District.  It has been a wonderful group of people to be associated with during these past six years.

NTEF: What has been your experience as an educator during COVID-19 in terms of seeing the additional support students and families in the district need for remote learning?
Monty: Even for students in the best of home environments, the learning challenges and the supports required have been significant. There has been a need for assistance for technology, connectivity and emotional health support.

NTEF: How do you think the community can best support the work of NTEF, and what are the most critical needs currently?
Monty: The Foundation is always appreciative of donations of money and people’s time when they provide service. It appears the need has never been greater than now to provide support for families and their children that have struggled financially during the pandemic. They need support in various ways, such as supplies for their children and housing for their families.

NTEF: What are some hobbies and activities you enjoy in your spare time?
Monty: I enjoy hiking, kayaking, exercising, reading non-fiction and spending time with my wife, Sonia.


North Thurston Education Foundation Asks the Community to Help Bridge the Gap and Meet a Need Today

In North Thurston Public Schools, there are currently 6,314 low-income students and 512 of these students are McKinney Vento students, meaning these students lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. This definition also includes children and youth who share the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason.

At the same time, median U.S. household income is rising by 6.8%, and poverty rates are falling, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many households have more disposable income than ever due to canceled travel plans, less eating out, and recent stimulus checks.

So while many are doing better than ever, there are still many in need, and that gap is getting wider every day.The North Thurston Education Foundation is asking the community to do something to bridge the gap!

Between now and June 30, you can help meet a need today for students and families in North Thurston Public Schools who urgently need help with the basics such as paying rent, gas money, buying groceries and school supplies.

All dollars donated will go immediately into the community through one of the following programs administered by North Thurston Education Foundation:

Food Security
Your donation will go directly toward supporting the nutrition needs of students in the evening and on weekends.

School Supplies
Students learning in multiple locations due to childcare needs, for example, alternating days at their grandparents/neighbors, may need more than one set of school supplies.

The return to in-person learning will require students to have a personal set of school supplies for in-person and a separate set at home. School supplies are significantly more expensive outside of the “back to school” sales season.

The cost of gas can prevent families from accessing the NTPS Family and Youth Resource Center resources and other community resources such as laundry, counseling, and food banks. Many students of all grades with IEPs are attending in-person learning. Rerouting bus service is like any change to a complex logistics network; it can take up to two weeks for a new transportation schedule. Having the most vulnerable students miss school for up to two weeks dramatically diminishes the likelihood of their return. Your donation will go directly toward gas cards for these vulnerable families.

Housing Security
Our Foundation will double your donation through a generous matching grant provided by Help Us Move In, a local non-profit that provides matching funds for rent and rental deposits.  The eviction moratorium is scheduled to end soon, which leads to extraordinary uncertainty for thousands of low-income families.

Sponsor A Graduating Senior
We don’t know what graduation will look like for the Class of 2021, but we know they will want to wear a cap and gown, even for a drive-up ceremony and photos. However, many students cannot afford the cap and gown fee. Your donation can go directly toward Sponsoring a Senior.

The Foundation works directly with the Student Navigators at North Thurston Public Schools to provide resources to families in need. It is easy to give at ntef.org.

For more information, contact Mike Jones, North Thurston Education Foundation Executive Director by calling (360) 790-6548 or emailing [email protected].

North Thurston Public School Profile: Leslie Van Leishout: Director of Student Support, NTPS

We recently talked with Leslie Van Leishout, Director of Student Support at NTPS, to learn more about her involvement with NTEF and how to best support students and families during this time. Here is our conversation below!

NTEF: How did you first become involved with NTEF?
Leslie: Before becoming the Director of Student Support six years ago, I was a teacher in the school system. In fact, I’ve been teaching at NTPS since 1998. I was the lucky recipient of a Learning Improvement Grant and used the grant for a really great anti-bullying campaign and training for students in my theatre class.

NTEF: Over the last year, during COVID-19, how have the needs of students and families in the district changed?
Leslie: A little over a year ago, we centralized our student support center to one location, our current Family & Youth Resource Center. It made it easier for families who were previously accessing resources from different schools and locations. Before COVID-19, we were seeing about 10 families a week come through. Since COVID-19, we have 75-100 families come through our drive-up center each week for resources. We are seeing people who have never required help before needing assistance due to loss of income and major life changes. It’s clear some people are hesitant to seek help, but we’re finding that they are more likely to access what they need from the school system instead of turning to state agencies or other organizations. We’re able to provide a supportive and accepting environment for students and their families and could not provide as many supplies as we do without the help of NTEF.

NTEF: How do you think the community can best support the efforts of NTEF?
Leslie: I hope we can increase awareness and let people know the FYRC Center exists and can be accessed. (*For assistance, families accessing support must have a student registered in the NTPS district.)  We are always accepting donations, and our Center is open on Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.for donations. If someone wants to donate but isn’t able to make it at that time, they can contact us to set up an appointment for drop-off. Donating to 501c3 organizations like NTEF is also a great way to help because the funds go directly to meet a significant need in our community.

NTEF: What are some of the most critical needs at the moment?
Leslie: We always need supplies like paper towels, toilet paper, baby wipes, diapers and laundry detergent and laundry pods. While we currently aren’t accepting used clothing, we accept new clothing still in its package and always need Youth L and XL (16-18-year-old) sweatpants and sweatshirts as well as undergarments. You can always check our website for a list of our current needs.