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Todd Hilberg
Todd Hilberg
MEDIA ALERT - New Columbia School District Superintendent Named (Photo) - 03/16/18

BURBANK, WA -- The Columbia School District Board of Directors announces Todd Hilberg as the new district superintendent, effective July 1, 2018 upon retirement of current Superintendent Dr. Lou Gates.

Mr. Hilberg was one of three finalists identified by the Board of Directors on March 7. The school district, with the aid of Educational Service District 123, began its search for a successor superintendent following Dr. Gates' formal retirement announcement in November 2017. Dr. Gates is retiring after 40 years in education.

According to Brad O'Brien, Columbia School Board Chair, "Mr. Hilberg's name kept rising to the top" throughout the superintendent search process.

"We are very excited for the future of [the] Columbia schools, and we look forward to working with Mr. Hilberg," says O'Brien.

Currently a Superintendent Intern and high school principal for the Selah School District, Mr. Hilberg has 13 years of school administration experience. He is also a familiar figure to the Columbia School District and Burbank community, having worked there as an elementary school teacher and then as middle school Dean of Students until 2007.

"I am thrilled and honored to join the dedicated team of professionals in the Columbia School District," says Hilberg. "As the next superintendent, I look forward to working collaboratively with the school board, staff, parents and community to continue making educational excellence a priority. As a former CSD alum, I am excited to bring my family back to Burbank. I would like to thank the school board and community for your support."

Columbia School District has utilized the services of ESD 123 to conduct their superintendent search. For more information, contact Molly Curtiss at 509.544.5787 or


Attached Media Files: Todd Hilberg
MEDIA ALERT - Nine Top Educators & One Surprise Winner - 03/13/18

PASCO, WA -- The public is invited to join in the 20th anniversary celebration of the Crystal Apple Awards this Thursday, March 15. Nine extraordinary educators from local public school districts, and one surprise Special Achievement winner, will be recognized at the ceremony taking place from 4:30-6:30 PM at the Professional Development Center at Educational Service District 123 in Pasco.

The Crystal Apple award program began in 1999 with the goal to honor the many wonderful classroom teachers across our public schools. This year's nine Crystal Apple winners now brings the total number of awarded teachers to 228 since the program's inception. Thanks to the donations of local businesses and organizations, each Crystal Apple winner will be presented by his/her district superintendent with a $1,000 check, a glass apple, and multiple gift certificates to local sporting events and dining.

At the close of the presentation, a "Special Achievement Award" will be presented as a surprise to one winner for his or her outstanding and sustained contributions to education across the region. (This person does not know of the award beforehand but will be present in the audience.)

Join us Thursday, March 15 at 4:30 PM at ESD 123, located at 3924 W Court St in Pasco. For more information, contact Molly Curtiss at 509.544.5787 or


The Crystal Apple Award is co-sponsored by numerous community organizations and businesses all wishing to honor the many educators who have made a positive impact on the lives of their students. This year's Platinum Level Sponsors include: Bechtel National Inc., Evergreen Associates, Gesa Credit Union, Johnson Controls, Pasco Kennewick Rotary, Stevens Clay, Tri-Cities Sunrise Rotary Club, and Washington River Protection Solutions.

Attached Media Files: 2018 Crystal Apple Winners
"A Teacher with a Broom:" Pioneer Middle School Head Custodian Named Regional Classified Employee of the Year - 03/12/18

PASCO, WA -- After competing against a pool of highly-qualified nominees across seven counties, Brent Bieloh, the Head Custodian for Pioneer Middle School in Walla Walla, has been named the Regional Classified Employee of the Year by Educational Service District (ESD) 123.

The Classified School Employee of the Year program recognizes excellence in the work of public school employees, including paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, food service workers, and others. Anyone may nominate a classified public school employee for this award, which is overseen by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). All completed nominations are sent to the regional coordinator at each ESD, who in turn selects a regional winner. Bieloh is one of nine regional winners who will go on to compete for the State Classified Employee of the Year award.

Bieloh has worked in the Walla Walla Public Schools for 26 years, and has been the Pioneer Middle School Head Custodian since 2014. In addition to his regular duties maintaining a safe and functional school environment, Bieloh leads a program for at-risk students, in which struggling students work alongside him for an hour a day. Through Bieloh's mentorship and the positive relationships he fosters with students, the program has helped reduce absenteeism and improve academic performance.

"I am very proud to be thought of as a Pioneer Middle School Staff member and not as just 'the custodian,'" says Bieloh. "I feel as though I am a teacher with a broom."

ESD 123 Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, Troy Tornow, says that, while the 2018 classified employee applicant pool was very competitive and difficult to narrow down, Bieloh's nomination and recommendations stood above the rest.

"Classified employees play a very important role in providing high quality educational experiences for students," says Tornow. "All of the nominees this year should be proud of their contributions to their school and district."

After advancing on to the statewide competition, regional finalists will be recognized by OSPI at an annual award ceremony in Olympia (date TBD), where OSPI will announce their selection of the State Classified Employee of the Year. For more information on these awards, contact OSPI Recognition Coordinator, Hilary Seidel, at 360.725.6117.


About ESD 123: Educational Service District 123, based in Pasco, WA, is one of nine ESDs in Washington. Dedicated to delivering collaborative solutions that promote learning, ESD 123 serves 23 school districts in seven counties of Southeastern Washington. Under Superintendent Darcy Weisner and its board of directors, this legislatively mandated, not-for-profit educational organization provides efficiency of educational systems and equity of learning opportunities for over 70,000 Washington students. For more information about ESD 123, please call 509-544-5700 or 888-547-8441 or visit

Partnering With the Media: Safe Messaging to Prevent Youth Suicide - 03/12/18

PASCO, WA - How we talk about mental health and suicide matters. Educational Service District 123 invites local news directors and media staff to join school communicators for a presentation and forum on how the media can help in youth suicide prevention. Beginning at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, March 21st, ESD 123 will host Partnering with the Media: Safe Messaging to Prevent Youth Suicide.

The language used to communicate student mental health issues influences public understanding and, handled correctly, can prevent suicide contagion. In light of both local and national events over the last several months, ESD 123's prevention services department is taking the lead on facilitating a dialogue between the media and schools by hosting this opportunity to connect with educational and suicide prevention professionals.

Learning the best practices for communicating with the public about mental health and student suicide is a very real step toward keeping our students safe. ESD 123 invites all members of the media and school communication managers to register for this free event. "Partnering with the Media: Safe Messaging to Prevent Youth Suicide" takes place from 9:30-11 AM on Wednesday, March 21 at the ESD 123 Professional Development Center, located at 3924 W Court St in Pasco.

For more information, contact Molly Curtiss, Communication & Graphics Coordinator, at 509.544.5787 or


Attached Media Files: Partnering with the Media flyer
Student artwork currently on display at CBC Gjerde Center
Student artwork currently on display at CBC Gjerde Center
MEDIA ALERT - Regional High School Art Awards (Photo) - 02/27/18

PASCO, WA - High school student artists from across southeast Washington will be recognized at the 45th Annual Regional High School Art award ceremony tomorrow, February 28, at the Columbia Basin College Gjerde Center in Pasco. Showcasing 534 works of art, our region's exhibit (co-hosted by CBC and Educational Service District 123) is the largest of its kind in the state.

Beginning at 6 PM on Wednesday, February 28, the award ceremony will recognize student work in three categories: Honorable Mention, Superintendent's Choice, and Judges Choice. In addition to the juried awards, 5 lucky junior and senior students will receive scholarships from Central Washington University (CWU). Faculty of the CWU Department of Art will award four $1,000 scholarships and one $2,000 scholarship to students at the ceremony.

Select Judge's Choice winners will advance on to the state competition in Olympia in April. The award ceremony begins at 6 PM tomorrow and is open to the public. For more information, contact Art Program Coordinator, Lori Ballard, at 509.544.5740 or