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Selah principal is recipient of 2nd annual Sheriff Brian Winter School Safety Award

Principal Joe Coscarart with award Joe Coscarart, the principal of Selah Academy and the Robert Lince Early Learning Campus at the Selah School District, has been named the recipient of the 2nd annual Sheriff Brian Winter School Safety Award from the School Safety Operations and Coordination Center at Educational Service District 105. 

The award recognizes local school employees who exemplify outstanding progress, attitude, and consistency in promoting a safety mindset at their school.  ESD 105 introduced the award in 2019 in honor of former Yakima County Sheriff Brian Winter, who died this past January.  During his time with the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Winter was extensively involved in helping initiate and supporting school safety programs in the region, and had helped present the inaugural award back in June of 2019.

Coscarart (pictured here holding the award) has duties that include serving as the safety lead for the various programs at Selah’s Lince Campus.  Through his oversight, the staff there was the first in the area to initiate the process toward achieving Crisis Response Team certification, and this past year eventually became among the first schools in the region to complete that certification status. 

As part of his efforts toward promoting a safety mindset within classrooms, the principal filmed his own safety basic training video for students, then gave the students homework assignments on the material.

He has also directly involved students in school safety programs.  The principal trained older students to assist younger ones in drills, including having them seal doors and windows during a shelter-in-place drill.  He also had a student make an announcement to initiate a crisis response drill, underscoring the concept that everyone’s participation in school safety is vital.

This past spring, when the Lince Campus was being converted into a child care center for essential workers, Coscarart still arranged for ongoing monthly drills for staff and children while integrating the still-newly adopted areas of guidance regarding COVID-19.  

Chris Weedin and principal Joe Coscarart with award Said ESD 105 School Safety Project manager Chris Weedin (pictured in background): “Joe’s true strength is empowerment.  He involves his teams at every step, from planning to response, and even includes students in appropriate and often refreshingly unconventional ways.  Students from his high school alternative program at Selah Academy are not only regular participants, but are also treated to extensive debriefs, Q & A sessions, and practical application exercises.  Learning opportunities abound at the campus for students as well as staff because of Joe’s leadership.”

ESD 105 also recognized two other area school safety leads who were the runners-up for the 2nd annual award:

  • The first runner-up was Veronica Romero, the dean of students at Toppenish High School. Romero took over as the safety lead at Toppenish High School last year, implementing all required monthly safety drills there and completing crisis planning and safety trainings for her school’s staff.  Said ESD 105 school safety operations specialist Shawn Bender:  “Veronica’s approach to safety was proactive.  She continuously updated her school’s safety portfolio and progress tracker, and was always looking for ways to improve our current leading practices.  She is a true example of a school safety mindset.”
  • The second runner-up was Miguel Puente, assistant principal at Sunnyside’s Outlook Elementary School. Puente also served as a school safety lead for the first time during the 2019-20 academic year.  Said ESD 105 school safety operations specialist Jacob Milner:  “Miguel was very consistent throughout the school year and always followed through with deadlines for safety tasks.  He was also very enthusiastic and passionate about school safety.”