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2023 Pathfinder Award Honoree

Joan Vetto Papasedero, Class of 1974

The Mercer Island School District is pleased to present its eighth annual Pathfinder Award to a 1974 graduate of Mercer Island High School whose achievements, strength of character, and citizenship inspire and challenge today’s youth to make significant contributions to humankind.

The 2023 Pathfinder Award recipient, who was announced at the School Board meeting on Thursday, March 23 is:

Joan Vetto Papasedero, 27-year MISD special education teacher, instructional coach, MIHS Class of 1974

“Our Pathfinder Award committee felt Joan’s contributions to our District as a teacher, coach, and curriculum instruction assessment assistant over 27 years, plus returning to the District recently to help with a staffing shortfall in special services show how the meaningful contributions of her service to a community, which just happens to be our school community, can inspire today's students,” said Superintendent Dr. Fred Rundle.

“The committee also felt that for the last three years MISD teachers have had to be inventive, creative, and imaginative as they navigated teaching students through the Covid-19 pandemic. The work MISD teachers have done during this time is such a meaningful contribution to our community and has positively impacted numerous families and students. The committee felt that to be able to select a MIHS graduate who has impacted our world can show how all our teachers are doing exactly what she did as a teacher - serving, educating, inspiring,” continued Rundle.

Joan, originally hired in the early 90's to teach, helped create and secure curriculum for Special Services and was a mentor the Special Services Department. She created, taught and implemented the Individualized Education Program (IEP) online program that the District uses. In addition, she was tabbed to be an instructional coach and IEP reader/reviewer for the entire Special Services department.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education (SPED) from Washington State University and a Master’s of Education Tech from City University. Papasedero’s Master’s project was to expand and update a previously created digital IEP development database bringing it into compliance with new regulations, including the creation of a guidebook to assist teachers with its use.

Papasedero was one of three Teachers of the Year in MISD in 2004 and became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2010.

At Mercer Island High School there is a permanent display that recognizes all Pathfinder Awards recipients as well distinguished graduates recognized prior to the Pathfinder Awards.

Papasedero was honored at the Mercer Island Schools Foundation Breakfast of Champions on Tuesday, April 25, 2023.