Edmonds Schools Foundation honors school district’s Living Legends

Edmonds Schools Foundation Executive Director Deb Brandi (center) with Living Legends honorees, from left: Dick Gourley, Dr. Ted Neff (one of the original Living Legends from 1984 who attended the Thursday ceremony), Joni Goettel and George (Dick) Davenport.

The Foundation for Edmonds School District on Thursday honored four individuals with Edmonds School District Living Legends awards.

The awards were started in 1984 by then Edmonds School District Superintendent Hal Reasby to celebrate the school district’s centennial and recognize teachers and staff for exceptional contributions to the district’s educational environment. The awards were reintroduced in 2019, with the goal of honoring a deserving teacher, principal or administrator who has:

  • Made a fundamental and lasting impact on the educational environment of the Edmonds School District
  • Provided exemplary and positive leadership to students or staff
  • Developed an innovative educational program or management system
  • Been or are currently an educator in the Edmonds School District

The winners recognized during the Thursday ceremony include:

2021 Living Award (awarded in 2022) recipient Richard Gourley. Known as Dick to his friends, he was nominated by Cheryl Bauer and Nalin Sood. He is recognized for his incredible respect and dedication to students in the Edmonds School District. Gourley started his distinguished career as a teacher at Esperance Elementary and as a vice-principal at both Lynnwood Junior High School and Brier Junior High School. He continued doing various activities through the district and athletics until about five years ago. He has been an exceptional mentor for six decades. He is well known for his compassionate and ethical nature. He continues to have an impact on the district and education today, with many following in his footsteps.

2022 Living Legend Award recipient Joni Goettel, who was nominated anonymously. She has been an exemplary employee at Sherwood Elementary for the past 25 years, starting as an education assistant and then office assistant, later becoming the office manager, where she has worked for three principals. Goettel loves every child that walks through the school halls, and her workday doesn’t end at 4:30.  She has been responsible for the school’s yearbook for more than 10 years, and believes it is her responsibility to represent Sherwood at all times, taking great pride in her work.

2022 Living Legend Award recipient George Davenport, who was nominated by his son Richard and daughter Debra. Affectionately known as Dick to his friends and family, he worked in the district from 1957-2000. He is a former principal, director of personnel, assistant superintendent of primary education and director of maintenance, a levy chairman who helped in passing two school levies, founder of the Citizens Planning Committee and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. When Davenport retired in 1983, then-Superintendent Brian Benzel asked him to return as special assistant to the superintendent doing special projects as needed. He is recognized as an outstanding leader, mentor and problem solver. He is known for his honesty, integrity and compassion for students, teachers and administrators. He is a man who truly makes a difference and has served in a variety of capacities to help further the Edmonds School District.

2022 Living Legends Award recipient Kimberly Nelson, who has been nominated anonymously. She is a former teacher at Mountlake Terrace High School. Nelson is recognized for her instinctive ability to connect with her students and provide a nurturing and flourishing educational environment for all.  She started the Mountlake Terrace High School Key Club to help students engage with, and help, their communities — a legacy that continues today. As a former student says, “Miss Nelson truly is a legend and will forever have a lasting imprint on the lives of students and colleagues she worked with during her years at [Mountlake Terrace High School]. Her unique ability to connect and communicate rivals no other.”

  1. From the bottom of my heart I’m truly humbled and honored. I wish I could have been there. I thank God every day for the career I loved. Kimberly Nelson

  2. Miss Nelson is honestly the only teacher I actually remember from my time in school. She was instrumental in both mine and my younger brother’s high school careers. Even after we were both out of school, Miss Nelson cared about us so much she came to our father’s funeral and gave us the love and support we needed at such a hard time. I took every one of her classes I possibly could because she made learning such a joy. Thank you Miss Nelson, you truly are one of the good ones!

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