She’s nothing special. To hear Brandie Evans tell it, she’s just a regular person with some run-of-the-mill skills that she’s happy to put to use when she sees a need arise. A little organizing here, a little note-taking there – it’s really not a big deal, she insists. And yet, if you talk to her colleagues at Partners Advancing Character Education in Spokane Valley and the West Plains, she’s an indispensable force for good.
“I think a lot of the success of the PACE organization can be in large part attributed to the work she’s done,” said Cheri Hollenback, who has served on the PACE Board of Directors with Evans since 2017 and nominated her for The Spokesman-Review’s Women of the Year recognition. Her work has helped “grow the organization from a grass-roots partnership to a 100-plus consortium of businesses, schools and faith communities working to promote character in young people.”
PACE began in 2009 in Spokane Valley as a way to promote the importance of good character in schools, businesses, and other community organizations. Each month, PACE features a character “trait of the month” on which schools and organizations throughout the community can focus. Respect, responsibility, citizenship, fairness, diligence, gratitude, and many more character traits all get their due. Students at PACE-participating schools who exemplify specific character traits are recognized on a monthly basis, and one PACE Student of the Year is chosen from each school at the end of the school year to be recognized at an awards ceremony.
For Evans, being involved with the PACE program was a fit right from the start. As a former middle school science teacher and a small business owner (she and her husband, Jared, own KiDDS Dental in Liberty Lake), “it was an intersection of my (training) as an educator and my role in the community as a business owner,” says Evans.
Since joining the board as a founding member of PACE in 2009, Evans has volunteered on various committees for the organization, doing everything from marketing, to helping with teacher workshops, to assisting in putting on the annual PACE Awards. Since 2011, she has served as PACE secretary, a behind-the-scenes job that has demanded thousands of hours of work over the past nine years.
“I actually don’t like being in the spotlight,” Evans said, laughing. “I’m not in the schools. I’m not where [the recognition of students) happens. I’m on the back end, organizing meetings and taking notes and storing documents, so I’m not at the front lines where the educators are, where they’re seeing the fruits of the program.”
But that’s where she insists she shines.
“Citizenship is important to me, and I’m not in a position to do anything big, but I can work in my community, I can work in my family,” said Evans, a mother of four. “There are many ways to serve, and I’m fortunate to have found an organization that can benefit from my interests and abilities.”
While she’s modest about the contributions she’s made to the success of the PACE program, her tireless work has paid off for countless students throughout Spokane Valley and the West Plains, where the two PACE chapters exist.
“We’ve had a lot of different kinds of PACE winners over the years: outgoing leaders, quiet observers, and everything in between,” said Lindsay Kent, principal of Greenacres Elementary School in Spokane Valley. “In every case, being recognized for their character has been a confidence-boosting, motivating experience.”
“It’s good to be involved in an organization that recognizes children who might not get recognized for their academics or for sports or for talent in some sort of art,” says Evans. “It’s rewarding to recognize kids for their character.”
And that sentiment is exactly why she was nominated for the Woman of the Year recognition, says Hollenback.
“It’s not something she would ever seek out on her own,” Hollenback says. “She herself is a person of great moral character and has a very strong value system, and recognizes that that’s a critical component for our community. She’s just a bright, shining example of an engaged community member that really helps make things better.”
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