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Colleen Warchola is Support Staff Employee of the Year

Colleen Warchola is Support Staff Employee of the Year

Colleen Warchola is the kitchen manager at Timber Creek Elementary School. She has worked for the District since 2011. She worked in the kitchens at East Middle School and Eagle Glen before becoming the manager at Timber Creek.

She is an active participant in the School Nutrition Association, and attends most sessions offered in the area.

Before coming to the Ray-Pec School District, she worked as a quality repair technician for Canyon Creek Cabinet Company for seven years. Earlier she worked at a substitute educational assistant in the Monroe School District and helped with disabled students in the Edmonds School District. 

Her community involvement includes serving as a Boy Scout leader and as an instructor for Vacation Bible School. 

She has four children and three grandchildren.


Warchola was nominated by Austin Noah, who works for the District’s BOOST (Best Out Of School Time). He attended Timber Creek when he was in elementary school.

He wrote: “Mrs. Colleen is amazing with the kids. She knows every kid by name and makes sure they know they are loved. She is so good at getting things done and always is willing to help and get involved in the school. She has helped with activities at the school.

“Mrs. Colleen is always whipping up something new in the kitchen for kids to try and is always asking the kids for their opinion on the food she cooks. She treats the kids like she is a teacher and is always making relationships with them and doing stuff to help them.”

How she makes a difference

“I take pride in my ability to be creative and bring smiles to staff and students. I have been told I make the best muffins in the district! Last fall, our department donated some of my muffins to a silent auction. 

“My goal as a manager is to be creative and bring joy to our students. Our position deals with more than food - we wear many hats. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I enjoy my conversations with students and watching them grow and mature. Our students are princess; I love our interactions and listening to their wonderful stories.”

From Timber Creek Principal Dr. Lauren Gechter

"Her positive demeanor is infectious, creating an atmosphere of respect and hard work within her team. She possesses exceptional organizational skills, efficiently accomplishing tasks with time to spare. This proficiency has been a cornerstone of our cafeteria’s success.

“Colleen is not only a vital member of our school community, but also an active participant in the School Nutrition Association. Her dedication is evident through her regular attendance at local, state, and national conferences, showcasing a commitment to continuous improvement and staying abreast of industry developments.”

“What truly sets Colleen apart is her creative spirit and her ability to bring joy to both staff and students. The themed homemade muffins she crafts each month have become legendary in our buildings, earning her the well-deserved reputation of making the best muffins around.”

“Furthermore, Colleen is more than a cafeteria manager; she is a creative, joyful, and positive influence within our school community.”

From Katlyn Lanoue, Director of Child Nutrition

“Ms. Warchola possesses a unique combination of qualities that sets her apart, including her ability to connect with students, mentor other cafe managers, and an unmatched talent for creating the most delicious muffins.”

“She is able to mentor newer cafe managers and staff so they also can be successful in their roles”

“Ms. Warchola takes pride in getting to know each student by asking them about their day, hobbies, etc. In addition to her exceptional interpersonal skills, she is renowned for her culinary talents, particularly in the realm of muffin-making. She has a knack for creating an array of mouthwatering flavors that leave everyone eagerly anticipating her next creation.”

From the judges

Each finalist for the Support Staff Employee of the Year award had an interview with three judges: Melissa McConnell, Manager, Professional Development and Member Engagment, National School Public Relations Association; Lee Moore, Vice President for JE Dunn Construction; and Dr. Bob Poisal, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Support Services, Belton School District.

The judges were impressed with all of the finalists. They said they all have a heart for students and love their jobs and the direction in which the District is headed. The judges noted their professionalism and enthusiasm.

In selecting Warchola, they said they loved how passionate she was about interacting with students. She also told about interacting one-on-one with students at the register, and the importance to giving a smile or listening to a story. She loves to create relationships with students that span their entire time at the school.

She told the judges about her work as a manager of people, and how she strives to give her staff the autonomy to make decisions during the busy meal shifts. There is a strict time schedule for serving the meals, so the team must work well together. Warchola fosters her team’s relationship by allowing others to provide input and suggestions on ways to save time.

Warchola also works on her own development by researching leadership strategies and skills to become a “better me.” She told how she has learned to work through difficult situations, and that you “can’t be everyone’s best friend.”

The judges said that Warchola’s love of the students, her team, and the teachers and staff at Timber Creek was quite evident.

Warchola said, “I love what I do.”

Pictured: Timber Creek Kitchen Manager Colleen Warchola is the 2024 Support Staff Employee of the Year. At left: Eagle Glen Kitchen Manager and 2021 Support Staff Employee of the Year Amanda Reed. At right: Creekmoor Teacher Associate and 2023 Support Staff Employee of the Year Yajaira Reed-Tellez

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