Being selected as “Citizen of the Year” came as a complete surprise to Valley School and Paideia High School Counselor Natalee Reid. “I feel like I’m just doing my job,” Natalee modestly confesses. She sees her positon as a career, but also as an opportunity to fulfill her passion to mentor and advocate for children and families. That passion caught the eye of board members and administrators, who affirmed her worthiness for this special recognition.
Paideia High School Principal Matt Cox commented, “Natalee is a deserving recipient because she has empathy for everyone that crosses her path, is willing to assist with duties outside of her normal responsibilities, and is pleasant beyond measure to work with.”
Teacher and colleague Alyssa Bellevue concurred, “Natalee, or ‘Miss Natalee’ as the kids say, is a true leader in our school. She finds ways to comfort and support all of our students, ranging from lunchtime buddy groups, helping with ASB, to specialized support for students with intense emotional needs. She has also played an integral role in getting PBIS (a positive behavior program) up and running at the Valley School, no small task! It seems like everything we have going here involves Natalee in some way. Because she is so good at what she does, it allows us to be able to have more success with our students in class.”
Besides counseling duties, Natalee also teaches Life Skills and Careers classes, and she implements a conflict management skills program called Kelso’s Choice. She uses these opportunities to model positive behaviors and believes that character has as much value to students as good grades do.
“Being a good person with an open mind, being kind and recognizing the value of good communication is invaluable,” she emphasizes.
Working with families of students and helping to grow the “family unit” also impassions Natalee. “Having empathy for students and realizing the importance of good communication within families is key to helping kids shape their futures,” she advocates. When their needs extend beyond her scope, she guides students’ families to local assistance programs and resources such as the Valley Food Pantry and Rural Resources. Ever the coach, Natalee’s advice to children and families is to never give up no matter what they are going through. “Everyone has the right to strive,” she affirms.
Natalee’s work on behalf of district families spills over into community service projects that we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. She coordinates the “Tree of Sharing” program with the Valley Food Pantry each holiday season to ensure families who need a boost in providing gifts for their children get the help they need. She sets up the tree, handles the paperwork, communicates directly with families, and spends a day with volunteers Sheila Walsh and Marty Brooks handing out the community’s donations. Natalee also takes on coordination of the “Clothe A Child” program sponsored each December by The Salvation Army and JC Penney. She rallies staff and community volunteers to accompany
10 kids on a shopping spree to buy winter gear and clothes. Natalee’s dream to work with kids developed early in life. While attending high school in Spokane, she met her mentor and inspiration, the school counselor.
“I loved seeing how he worked with students, engaging them, advocating for them and supporting their aspirations,” she recounts.
The vocation hit a deep chord in her. While growing up she experienced her own challenges, but worked hard to put herself through college at EWU. She believes that her personal life experiences are one of her strengths as a counselor.
Asked how she came to Valley, Natalee explains, “I had the chance for a position in Mead School District, which was just minutes from my home and, at the same time I was offered a one-year position at Valley School District. I chose Valley.” She professes, “I saw what a wonderful community Valley was and I wanted to support the students and families here instead. Working with a large school district with a lot of students would not have afforded me the prospect of really making a difference.” Though she commutes from Spokane daily, she plans to be at Valley School District for a long time. “Valley School District has an amazing atmosphere. The teachers at the elementary, middle school and high school teach in a special way, really caring about the students individually, and all have the desire to truly help, prepare and support the kids for the right reasons.”
Citizen of the Year is not the first acknowledgement that Natalee has received. Last year she was presented a Gold Star Award on behalf of the district, a recognition from the state governor’s office for the number of students signed up for the College Bound program. Natalee’s positive influence on students has been key to these accomplishments. To qualify for financial assistance offered by the College Bound program, students in 7th and 8th grade and their families commit to earning a 2.0 grade average through high school and staying out of trouble. Natalee is not the only person in her family who loves working with kids and young adults. Nick Reid, her husband of ten years, shares the same passion.
In 2014, Nick was the winner of the Chase Youth Individual Impact award, presented by the Chase Youth Commission of Spokane. The Valley School District applauds Natalee for her achievements, and extends their gratitude for significantly improving the lives of children and families in the Valley community!
-Submitted by Valley School District