Return to Headlines

PTS asst. superintendent Lambert honored by OACOA


January 27, 2023

PHOENIX – Phoenix-Talent School District assistant superintendent Tiffanie Lambert on Thursday was named the winner of the 2023 Oregon Association of Central Office Administrators Achievement of Excellence Award, becoming the second PTS administrator in as many years to earn a prestigious statewide honor.

Lambert didn’t find out that she had won until the announcement was made during the OACOA/Oregon Association of School Executives Conference awards luncheon Thursday afternoon at the Salishan Coastal Lodge in Gleneden Beach. The moment was captured with a webcam and viewed by PTS staffers who were in on the secret via a Zoom conference call.

The OACOA Achievement of Excellence Award honors the member who “represents the commitment to excellence in education that exemplifies the OACOA membership.” 

“I am very surprised. …I was not prepared for this and I’m trying to hold back tears,” Lambert said after accepting the award. “I just want to say thank you to all of you and our team at Phoenix-Talent School District. There were really nice things mentioned but we really have such a wonderful community, such a wonderful school staff, and it’s really the work of everybody. …I’m very appreciative, but it’s really an honor I share with a group of people in Phoenix and Talent and our neighboring and partnering school districts as well. Thank you so much.”

The award comes about 16 months after PTS superintendent Brent Barry was named Oregon’s 2022 Superintendent of the Year and two months after Lambert received the United Way of Jackson County’s 2022 Everyday Hero award.

“Tiffanie is so deserving of this award and I get to witness every day how she is a champion for students in our district and our community at large,” said Barry, who was also at the conference. “She is a tireless worker who is one of the smartest people I have ever worked with. PTS Rising is fortunate to have Tiffanie serving our kids and families.”

The district’s assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, Lambert was recognized in part for her success as an educator – Phoenix High had a higher on-time graduate rate than any other high school in the Rogue Valley in 2021-22, according to data released Thursday – and in part for her role in the district’s Almeda fire recovery effort.

In the days, weeks and months after the Sept. 8, 2020 Almeda Fire, which left 700 Phoenix-Talent students homeless and scattered across the Rogue Valley, Lambert leaned heavily on her disaster response training and her ties to the community to help PTS families get the help they needed, an effort that went far beyond their educational needs. In that role, and in all her roles that followed, Lambert was instrumental in gathering the voices of the traditionally unheard, gaining their trust and ensuring that their needs were delivered to the ears of those in power. 

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, Lambert formed a logistics team through which she was able to set up a Response Team that navigated between the Emergency Operations Center at the Jackson County Expo and three strategically placed remote education centers in White City, Central Point and Ashland. She also worked closely with the district’s healthcare partners to make sure health services would be available to families, and helped the community separate fact from fiction by maintaining the PTS websites and social media channels.

To track down Phoenix-Talent families at the Expo, Lambert mobilized a team that went door-to-door in the overflowing RV parking lot. When it became apparent that P-T parents needed a place for their children to go while the adults navigated insurance claims, housing options and damage assessments, she organized an on-site daycare staffed with P-T employees. 

Lambert also helped the district negotiate with T-Mobile executives in order to bring in enough mobile hotspots to cover our families’ needs – 450, after an initial offer of only 150. And according to the district’s post-fire records she volunteered consecutive 14-hour days the weekend after the fire, back-to-back 12-hour days the following weekend and a total of 106 hours between Sept. 9 and Oct. 3, 2020 – all in addition to her regular work hours.

“Simply put, Tiffanie does it all,” Barry summarized in the Achievement of Excellence application. “She works very closely with our county health department on all things COVID-19-related, is engaged in numerous ODE state-wide office hours throughout the week and provides support for students, staff and families each and every day. Some use the ‘unicorn’ metaphor to describe those whose accomplishments astonish us, but to me, Tiffanie Lambert is a unicorn on steroids. I would not be the person or leader I am today without witnessing her work and learning from her.”