2024 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Kathi Dahlstrom headshot

Kathi Dahlstrom's positive and helpful attitude helps rejuvenate a sense of community at Wishkah Valley

TUMWATER – May 2, 2024 – Capital Region Educational Service District (ESD) 113 named Kathi Dahlstrom their 2024 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year. Dahlstrom is a Paraeducator/Bus Driver in the Wishkah Valley School District.

She believes that the most important part of her job is helping others. She has supported special needs students from elementary to high school, including one for seven straight years. “I didn't know what to expect when the school asked me to work with him," says Dahlstrom. "I had no idea how rewarding it would be to help him. Throughout the last 15 years, I have worked with some of the most challenging students, and I have loved to help them. I have definitely learned more from my students than they have from me.”

Dahlstrom has also led the re-opening of the school concession stand after the pandemic. The booster club folder just before the pandemic began, and she knew there would be a hole in the community without them. Once sports resumed, she and the equestrian team – whom she coaches – ran the concessions stand, which is an integral part of the community. She routinely budgets, makes purchases, and travels 65 miles to pick up supplies for the stand. Not only do the concessions raise funds, but they also bring together the many athletes and families that attend the sporting events in the area and revitalize the sense of community lost during the pandemic.

Theselection committee chose Dahlstrom for this award because her dedication to the Wishkah Valley School District community spans many contributions, from driving school buses to serving as a paraeducator to coordinating hot meals at the concessions stand for sporting events. “She builds connections between the community and school, striving to see students reach their full potential,” the committee states. 

The Capital Region ESD 113 Regional Classified School Employeeofthe Year is one of nine candidates chosen by their respective ESDs who will be considered for Washington State Classified School Employee of the Year. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will select and announce the state winner this fall. 


  • Kathi Dahlstrom works as a Paraeducator/Bus Driver in the Wishkah Valley School District.
  • Her school has 178 students, K-12, in one building.
  • She is the head coach of the equestrian team.
  • She has worked in the Wishkah Valley School District for 15 years.
  • She was the leader in re-opening the concessions stand at sporting events after the pandemic shut down activities.
  • She works in the concessions stand three times a week during the fall and winter.


  • “Being part of a small school, staff are often asked to be focused on many different tasks vs. just one assignment. While she has shown to be exceptional at her role in education and instrumental in her work with them, she also has a variety of tasks that enrich our students, community, and school as a whole. During home sporting events, Kathi organizes and operates the concessions. The community comes to these events ready to eat Kathi’s community favorite 'logger burger.' Many of the fans we have come just for her food and spirit.” – Rich Rasanen, Wishkah Valley School District Superintendent  
  • “She is the first person kids see in the morning and the last they see before going home. Throughout the day, she runs all over the school making sure that things are covered and students are learning. Kathi cares about the school district, and you can see her here in the summer working hard to make sure grounds look good, the walls are painted, and the little projects that need to be done are completed. Students love and respect Kathi because they know that she has their best interest in heart.” – Tove Reibel, Fourth Grade Teacher