Inspiring educators and students, chosen by you


This Labor Day, Education Votes asked readers to tell us about an educator or student they know that deserves recognition for the work they do to make their schools and communities a better place.

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The response was overwhelming. We received over 250 nominations with incredible stories that inspire and impress.

Thank you to all those who nominated someone! Over the next few months, we hope to follow up and hear more about these community leaders as they continue their work in the new school year.

You can check out all the nominees (listed in alphabetical order by last name) below!

Taylor Ackerson
University of Oklahoma
College Freshman
Nominated by Victoria Wood

Taylor Ackerson is a young man who has overcome many challenges in the last few years. Taylor was unable to attend high school for two years due to medical issues but came back and completed 3 years of school in only 2 years while maintaining high grades and writing amazing stories. After graduating in May of this year, he was accepted at the University of Oklahoma and has begun his college journey. Although he continues to battle health challenges, I have high expectations that he will be successful in his college career and go on to do great things.

Melinda Adams
Salem-Keizer Transportation
Special Needs Bus Driver
Nominated by Doris Jared

Melinda always puts the needs and safety of the children first. Melinda transports a student who has issues getting off the bus at school. Melinda well sit in the stairwell of bus if necessary to encourage the student to exit. She is willing to assist the aides where needed. She is always encouraging her students to succeed and do the best they can.

Saif Almuhairbi
University of Phoenix
Junior in College
Nominated by Mary Carter

In spite of Saif’s busy schedule of attending college full time, being a caretaker of his cancer-stricken father, and working part-time at UPS, he still finds the time to volunteer at the Women’s Intercultural Center, a grassroots nonprofit in the rural community of Anthony, NM. He utilizes all his skills to help the Center to meet its operational needs. Primarily, he is responsible for the Center’s technology and Border Awareness Program, which teaches high school and college students from all over the country cultural awareness of the border region and immigration issues. We value his continued support and assistance.

Joseph Baird
Mansfield Academy
Special Educator
Nominated by Brian Wightman

Joe teaches science and PE to students from 5-12 grade at a program for students with emotional and behavioral challenges. He can have on-level 8th graders and 5th graders 2-3 years behind in the same classroom. He has students on the autism spectrum, students with extreme anxiety, and aggressive students at the same time. Joe, sometimes literally, rolls with the punches. Whatever the day’s crisis–an attack, a runaway, or simply a severe shortage of staff–he responds with a calm, “Okay, so, what we need to do is…” He keeps trying to find connections with students, and to find strategies to reduce incidents and increase engagement. He knows the students who come to depend on him, and he also knows when the student would really connect better with another staff person. His positive attitude is a strong support for a very difficult program.

Robert Barnes, Jr.
Eastern Middle School
World Studies 6 Teacher
Nominated by Dominique Cooper

Besides being a knowledgeable teacher, Robert Barnes is consummate activist. He encourages new and veteran staff members to become actively involved in the union. Mr. Barnes always makes himself available to students and staff for anything they need. As the Afterschool Coordinator, he acquires varied activities to expose our students to many different interests. Finally, Mr. Barnes is the Coordinator of The Distinguished Gentlemen. This is a mentoring group for young men in our school. Through the years, it has transformed boys into respectful and academically-focused young men. Robert Barnes, Jr. is a man of commitment and determination. He inspires children and adults alike to constantly grow and improve themselves. Whenever there is a job that needs to be completed, Mr. Barnes is willing to take on an additional responsibility. His motto is:”If not me, then who?” That speaks volumes about his character. I am proud to say I know and work alongside Robert Barnes, Jr.

Vicki Barth
Naco Elementary School
Special Education Pre K teacher
Nominated by Michael McConnell

Ms. Barth is an amazing preschool teacher. She works with students that have a wide range of abilities, but keeps all of them engaged and interested throughout the class day. Her students absolutely love school and they love Ms. Barth. She develops games and activities with student involvement that target the specific educational needs of her students that the students want to play over and over again. Her focus is exclusively on child development and educational preparation regardless of the challenges faced by the school, the students and their families, and herself. I have been an educator for many years and have been nominated for awards previously, but I don’t know of any more deserving educator than Ms. Barth for recognition for her dedication and her work. If more teachers devoted the time, work, and love that she dedicates, there would be no complaints about the educational system in this country!

Caren Batterman
Merchantville School
Nominated by Melody Ransom

Caren is a consummate teacher. She inspires her students and is an extraordinary problem solver. Caren always finds a way to help her students achieve and move to the next level. She is a team player and a very giving colleague. Caren is always sharing new technology ideas with other teachers and parents. She brings out the best in all of us.

Fred Beaver
Stroudsburg High School
Art teacher, retired
Nominated by Maria Horn

Mr. Beaver saved so many of us. He knew not everyone drove on a straight road; some of us were on loop de loop roller coasters! Whether we had God-given talent, or just an interest in art, he taught us skills and an appreciation, even when we didn’t understand or “like” a piece of artwork. With his wit, passion and wealth of knowledge, he inspired us to be true to ourselves and follow our own paths, even if it doesn’t seem to be the norm. I became a teacher (elementary) late in life, due in part to the influence of Mr. Beaver.

Bernadette Bechta
Mount Hebron High School
Accounting 1 Honors Teacher
Nominated by Josh Mendez

Mrs. Bechta deserves to be recognized because she is the most inspiring teacher I have ever had. Not only does she inspire me to pursue success, she makes everyone feel like they have a purpose in life. Mrs. Bechta truly does care.

Beth Beery
Huntington North High School
Spanish Teacher, Grades 9-12
Nominated by Carole Baker

Beth cares about the whole student, not just his/her intelligence. Students feel free to talk to Beth about anything, and she listens with an open mind. She encourages students instead of blaming them. Her students learn so much about the Spanish language and culture and learn to speak and read Spanish so that they do very well using Spanish after high school. Many students go on to major in Spanish in college, testing into high level courses which saves them a lot of money in tuition. She has been nominated as one of the best teachers in the high school, and her students will agree that this is true.

Beth has worked with a group of students who formed a diversity club. She and they value the right of every student to be who she/he is without being bullied. She has traveled with students to teach them about the culture of a Spanish-speaking country. She has joined a group of Americans who work with a small town in Tisma, Nicaragua to help them improve their economic condition. This group has traveled to Tisma many times to form a relationship with the Tisma people.

She has supported all the teachers in the high school by working to help them have better working conditions. Many teachers come to her for advice when they have a problem. She also has volunteered to be in charge of a mediation program in the school where students and teachers were trained to be mediators and worked to provide mediation to anyone who requested it. The amount of time Beth spends in the school would add up to more like a 60 hour week than a 40 hour week. She also spends added time grading papers and planning at home, along with working in extracurricular activities. Beth is a super-teacher, one who deserves all the accolades that can be given.

Jeff Benter
Tri-Valley High School
Science Teacher
Nominated by Jared Johnson

Jeff consistently inspires students to challenge themselves and to learn more than they thought they could, by using innovative teaching and by treating students as equals. He quietly and humbly leads by example.

Sandra Bergh
University High School, Southfield Public Schools
High school teacher
Nominated by Rachel Badanowski

Dr. Bergh is a dedicated, engaging educator who models her beliefs in learning and giving back to the community in all of her actions.

Jon Bernson
Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center, San Francisco, CA
Program Manager, Urban Music Program
Nominated by Amie Gutierrez

For 15-years Jon Bernson has inspired young musicians, electronic artists, DJs, and producers with his wisdom and his charisma. Jon’s leadership within the Urban Music Program brings technology to low income students and awakens kids to lost analog technology. Through his influence, youth have turned to music over drugs and violence and have shaped the San Francisco community.

Jacqueline Beverly-Stokes
Early Childhood Center
Early Childhood Specialist
Nominated by Darlene McKnight

Mrs. Beverley has been a staunch advocate/trainer for children and parents. She has taught for 50 years, always on top of her game. She has a passion for students, parents and community that I have seldom seen in the teaching field since I left high school many years ago. She is the person who sees the challenges of educating every child as a do-able project when you give it your all as she has so very well done time after time, generation after generation. The crisis we are reluctantly facing in this country with the uproar over funding, policy and what really prepares students for the coming times in an equitable manner could readily be overcome if we could gather the essence of who she is as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, teacher and human being, synthesize it, and pour it out as the milk of human kindness on us all. When you look up “awesome” in the dictionary, her picture should be there.

Dave Bierbaum
North Side High School
Retired math teacher
Nominated by Renate Lazzaretto

Mr. Bierbaum was my math teacher in High School. I was 17 years old and I am now 51 years old. I never understood math. He never gave up on me. He sent me to a different math class but always asked how I was doing. He never degraded me or made me feel stupid. Years later we found each other on Face Book and I was sort of embarrassed. He is so smart. Forty years later, he still knew how to talk to me, “You were never dumb Ren. I always believed in you.” He never gave up on me. For that, I am forever thankful and he should be recognized and awarded.

Tony Billingslea
Ferguson-Easley Elementary School
Guidance Counselor
Nominated by Carrianne McClellan

Mr. Billingslea guides us daily to have successful days. It does not matter how happy, unhappy, downtrodden, or ecstatic, we may be. He is there for our students, faculty, staff, and parents to help us through the emotion or the challenges. Guidance is his thing. He is deserving to be acknowledged for his labor.

Kelley Birch
Willis Jepson Middle School
Nominated by Alyson Brauning

Willis Jepson Middle School Principal Kelley Birch is truly an amazing leader. She has changed the culture of the school from a place of mistrust and a school that lacked leadership to a school that has a staff that is a family. The entire staff from the custodians, counselors, nurse to the librarian, administration, and teachers all work together to meet the needs of all students academically, socially, and emotionally. This has only happened since the leadership of Kelley Birch.

Jennifer Black-Cone
Rock Bridge High School
High School Teacher
Nominated by Susan McClintic

Jennifer is an amazing local leader. She has grown membership in her building, works as the chair of our Working Conditions committee and deals directly with our District’s administration to help our members. She is always positive and willing to lend an extra hand to make sure our local is on top of issues for our members!

Janice Blackwell
Vidor Elementary
Kindergarten Teacher
Nominated by Mary Adams

Janice is a dedicated, hard-working Kindergarten teacher. She also does in-home training with students who have special needs. She is more than willing to accept the challenge of students with special needs in her Inclusion Kindergarten Class.

Erica Blust
Crim Elementary
Title 1 Teacher
Nominated by September Kuebler

For her countless hours of dedication beyond the school day to piles of paperwork, research, and the implementation of research-based lessons to meet the individual needs of each of her students.

Dara Botvinicks
Highland Park Middle School
6th Grade English Teacher
Nominated by Colin Hogan

We imagine that English teachers will make their students fall in love with reading and writing but Dara actually does this. She spends thousands of dollars of her own funds every year to buy her students the latest books to engage her students as readers and when she teaches writing she pulls from her own experience as a writer. Her classroom is a safe place to grow as a reader and writer and rigorous as well. She has become an incredible voice for fellow teachers in the district pushing not only for fair working conditions but holding administration accountable for making instructional and supervisory decisions that are non-collaborative and do not reflect best practices.

Diana Bowman
Armstrong Middle School, Kearsley Community Schools
Science Teacher
Nominated by Karen Ann Richards

Diana is a dedicated teacher who has enriched the lives of her students by presenting a hands-on curriculum which allows her students to more deeply understand the principles and practical application of scientific research. For several years, Diana has coordinated her curriculum with water studies in the area and has encouraged children to participate in local research efforts. This, as well as other efforts on her part, has allowed students to develop skills which will be a benefit to themselves and their environment. In addition, she adapts her curriculum excellently for those students who are educationally challenged. As a 39.2 year veteran of middle school education, currently retired, I believe she is a model of what should occur in every classroom, everywhere. Diana Bowman is deserving of praise and recognition for her efforts.

Jane Boyce
Sobesky Academy
Language Arts teacher
Nominated by Joan-Marie Dyer

Sobesky Academy is a school for special needs students with significant emotional and behavioral challenges. Ms. Jane is an exemplary teacher; she teaches reading, writing and drama to 6th through 12th graders. She uses a wide variety of high-interest strategies to engage students who are typically reluctant learners, such as fly swatters, to “hit” the right answers on the board. Ms. Jane’s sense of humor also keeps students engaged in learning activities. She constantly seeks new ideas to “hook” students into actively learning. Ms. Jane spends her own money to buy prizes which are used as incentives to encourage active participation by students. I commend Ms. Jane for her supreme efforts to support learning with a most challenging student population.

Matthew Boyd
Semple Elementary
3rd Grade Student
Nominated by Lisa Lucey

Matthew has faced what is possibly the most difficult situation to undertake at such a young age. Last year his four year old little brother and best friend, Mark, passed away from a year-long battle with cancer. He was away from his mom for most of the year as she was at the hospital with Mark. He stayed with his aunt for much of that time unless he slept at the hospital with mom and Mark on the weekends. His father is not involved in his life at this time so the lack of support he must have been feeling had to be overwhelming. He had bouts of anger throughout the year, followed by remorse and rivers of tears. He so desperately wanted to make the right choices, but his little 7 year old emotions often got in the way. He learned from each and every episode and the episodes did become less frequent.

I am not his teacher this year as he has moved on to 3rd grade. However, every day I give him a big hug and tell him to have a great day. At the end of each day thus far this year, he has a huge smile on his face and tells me he is on “Outstanding” behavior. Will he have any more emotional outbursts? Maybe, even quite possibly. But the way he has handled himself throughout these horrific events in his life is unparalleled. This young man will surely be a leader in our community, if not our nation one day.

Through the process of dealing with, then healing from what life has dealt him, he has taught me so much about myself as a person and as an educator. The way I approach a difficult situation with a student is completely different than before I met Matthew. The hurt some of my students harbor deep in their hearts comes out in so many ways. I now look deep into a child’s heart and mind to help me decide what approach to take with them. Sometimes it is hard because I begin to feel some of their pain. Nevertheless, if I can take on some of their feelings in order to understand and help them, I am willing to do so. Bring it on!

I never knew the love I could have for a child who was born to someone else, but became “one of mine” simply because I was his teacher until I met Matthew. He is an amazing young man (although I don’t think he realizes it yet) and I can’t wait until I see his future successes and how he helps others with his caring heart and handsome smile! I thank God every day for Matthew and the way this innocent child has changed me into a much better person and teacher!

John Braselton
Arvada West High School
Senior High School Student
Nominated by Beth Low

John Braselton deserves to be recognized for his dedication and efforts in promoting a sense of community and belonging for every student in our school. He was instrumental in starting and maintaining our SPARKLES cheerleading group. This group is a combination of General Education students and Special Needs students who are in our Challenge program. They cheer at assemblies and are recognized as a driving force at Arvada West for creating a spirit of acceptance. John also volunteers much of his time to assisting with technology support in our building and he helps to ensure that technology is functioning and upgraded by installing, repairing, or replacing devices, during the school day on his free time/off block, with the assistance of our school’s Technology coordinator. He volunteers his time on holidays, before the school year, and after school to assist with student announcements, theatrical productions, student government and front office staff needs. John truly exemplifies what giving without expectation means and he makes a difference for so many people in our educational community.

Ellen Brenneman
Kennedy Middle School
Grade 6
Nominated by Chris Forest

Ellen is, simply put, a wonderful teacher, colleague, and leader. She has taught in our school for many years and has always been a teacher we can turn to for suggestions, advice, and support. As a colleague, she is second to none. She is always seen checking in with other faculty member, serving as a mentor, and working on numerous committees. She loves to volunteer and considers our school part of her family. As a teacher, her love for science shines through her students. She has guided our school on a variety of endeavors, both in the classroom and out; and her tireless efforts helped lead us to secure new technology for our school. Ellen is truly the epitome of a teacher!

Christina Brenner
West Chester University
Associate Director of Sykes Union
Nominated by Phil Tripp

Chris goes above and beyond to assist students, most recently helping four students who were rendered homeless when their house was condemned. In addition, she advises student organizations, especially the off campus organization which is a difficult group to reach. On top of her regular duties she also serves as the campus president for the PSEA affiliate (SCUPA) and NEA organization.

Michael Brosnan
Warren Harding High School
History Teacher
Nominated by Theresa Brosnan

Michael teaches in an inner city high school in Bridgeport, CT and takes 20 students to North Carolina for Habitat for Humanity on his spring vacation every year. He also started a Habitat club in the school, and the students build in Bridgeport each month. He also organizes a week of community service each year in the spring.

Scott Brown
North Side High School
Nominated by Renate Lazzaretto

Scott Brown has given a new incentive to teen students. He does not just do the boring class assignments. He gets them involved in different ways such as video-flash mobs and video dances with the students. He keeps them interested. He is trying to get them to want to come to school and learn. He understands teenagers.

Erika Buentello
J B Alexander High School
Art Teacher
Nominated by Santos Garcia

Ms. Buentello is an amazingly creative and dedicated teacher. She consistently shows her love of teaching, her genuine concern for her students, and is a colleague everyone can count on. She supports and works actively on issues relating to students, teachers, and education in general. Her eloquence and unique perspective have helped to rally teachers and the general public behind issues that concern our school district and our students.

Rose Capitano
Burlington Township Middle School
Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Bernadette Zimmerman

Rose has concern for all students. She initiated a mentoring program at our school for at-risk students. The program began over 10 years ago and has helped students with socialization skills, self-confidence, and academics. She is currently the co-chairperson of the program which continues to identify students, match them with staff members, and provides individual and group activities. In addition, she is a mentor to many special education teachers and a master teacher in the classroom.

Ramona Carlos
Reed High School
Nominated by Nancy Hoffman

Mrs. Carlos is a hard working, well-organized educator who has dedicated her life to serving her students with love and humor and by modeling a strong work ethic.

Sara Catali
San Mateo High School
Math Teacher and Activities Director
Nominated by Linda Silva

Sara inspires students to be active in all aspects of their lives and in contributing to the community. She has led the student body in food drives that have made the Guinness Book of Records raising hundreds of thousands of pounds of food for the Samaritan House to feed the hungry in the San Mateo County community. She inspires students through her own tireless efforts and through her many planned spirited activities to help students on campus feel positive about themselves, their teachers, their classmates, and their school and community. Her school Facebook reflects her enthusiasm and support for the students.

Robin Ceaser
South Park
8th Grade Teacher
Nominated by Petula Whitfield

I trained Robin as a new teacher and she has grown to a competent educator. She lives 30 minutes out of town but makes it to work every day on time with a smile. She exudes caring & discipline covered in excellence. I am so proud of her.

Carla Chandler
Shadow Rock Elementary
Fourth grade teacher
Nominated by Brittany Young

This is an extraordinary educator. She goes above and beyond to help her students excel as well as to assess their learning growth. She is well respected by all of her students and faculty members. She loves her career and exemplifies it in her work each school year with each class she teaches. She is so awesome that she has former students bringing their children to the school requesting that they are in her class. Her classroom is like a safe haven students come in and they feel welcomed and comfortable.

Shelley Cheers
Cedar Grove Middle School
Parent/Teacher Coordinator
Nominated by Nancy Bollinger

Shelly deserves to be recognized because she is a very compassionate educator. After years as a teacher, she moved from teaching to helping teachers, students, her school, parents and the community. She has done wonders in getting the students, teachers, and parents working together for the betterment of Cedar Grove Middle School.

Marsha Chizek
Fridley High School
Teacher of Family and Consumer Science (FACS), Grades 9-12
Nominated by Adele Munsterman

Marsha deals with large classes of students on a daily basis, as do many teachers. Her cooking, family economics, and child care classes are a “safe haven” for immigrant students, minority students, and those whose academic and behavior records are not the best. Marsha welcomes all of them, and teaches them some very basic skills that will serve them for a lifetime. Her friendly disposition and smile, her forgiving ways, and open attitude have saved many a student over the years. She is so proud of having directed some of her students toward a career as a chef!

Brenda Christianson
Terre Haute South High School
Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Pam Gasway

Brenda not only gives tirelessly to her students, but she inspires her colleagues to give a little more too. Indiana has had too many political battles lately over education issues. Brenda has encouraged us to become active in the political process — whether it’s walking in a parade in support of education friendly candidates, writing postcards asking for votes or writing legislators asking for their support on key issues. She is very dependable and active in our teachers’ local, VCTA, and she serves as an inspiration!

Takeesha Clark
Farmville Middle School
7th Grade ELA Teacher and Team Leader
Nominated by Jennifer Counterman

She is a great ELA teacher, mentor and team leader. She sets high expectations for her students and models extraordinary leadership qualities of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

Roberta Cleveland
Collins Elementary School
Retired Teacher – Reading Resource
Nominated by Pamela Suess

Roberta retired 10 years ago after a 30 year career and has still never left our school! She gets paid a small stipend but volunteers several times a week with underserved students in the primary grades. She is also inspirational to and a great resource for all the teachers at the school. She has so much experience that she is willing to share. We love her!

Angie Cole
Davis Hills Middle
Math Teacher 7th and 8th Grade
Nominated by Cindy Dunivan

Mrs. Cole is an excellent role model for her students. Not only does she teach them math skills they need to complete their current grade level, but she mentors them through many life situations. Angie Cole treats her students as if they were her personal children. Once you are her student, you are her student for life. Many times I have seen former students who are now in high school, even college, back in her classroom after school and she is helping them with problems both academic and personal. She is a great example of what a teacher should be.

Betty Cole
Washington Elementary
Learning Director
Nominated by Shelley Duttarer

Ms. Cole has worked in Mendota in every grade level and subject there is. She always finds creative fun ways to motivate the kids to work and learn. Many of the teachers that I now work with in Mendota Unified say that they had Ms. Cole, and she was their favorite elementary or junior high teacher. Just recently she was a principal for a few years after being in the classroom for 25 years and she implemented many programs, especially a writing curriculum that she created, that we are still using school wide. She is now a Learning Director at the K-2 so that the students first starting in the district can reap the benefits of her leadership. I highly recommend Ms. Cole for any award you offer educators because she is as good as it gets!

Perry L. Coleman
112th Street Elementary School
Nominated by Joel Sanchez

I am writing on behalf of Perry L. Coleman. I have known Mr. Coleman, both professionally and personally, for over ten years. I have worked with him on several projects for 112th Street Elementary School. I was quite honored to teach alongside him at this school site as well as collaborate with him on various curriculum projects. Mr. Coleman demonstrated from early in his tenure that he understood what education is all about. He is well organized and thrives under adversity. I suppose doing well as an instructor is easy if you are, as he is, driven in equal measure by both quality and efficiency.

Mr. Coleman’s strong points include an ability to take on multiple tasks simultaneously and produce high quality results despite deadline pressure. His research was always thorough and comprehensive, and his fact checking always accurate. His writing is clear, concise, and evocative. Mr. Coleman is a resourceful, creative, and solution-oriented person who was frequently able to come up with new and innovative approaches to his assigned projects. He functions well as a team leader when required, and he also works effectively as a team member under the direction of other team leaders.

On the interpersonal side, Mr. Coleman has superior written and verbal communication skills. He gets along extremely well with staff under his supervision, as well as colleagues at his own level. He is highly respected, as both a person and a professional, by colleagues, staff members, and students alike. Having those sound qualities has propelled Mr. Coleman to become one off the elite teachers on our staff. He has proven year after year his ability to educate the whole child. He is a positive role model that continues to guide his past students to having the mindset of being life-long learners and motivating them to strive to achieve greatness.

Anthony Collins
Cicely L. Tyson Elementary School
2nd Grade Teacher
Nominated by Susann Collins

His tireless dedication to making sure his students can read and write sometimes goes unnoticed. His method of teaching is geared toward learning and progress. He has gained much from his students and they from him. He authored a book “The Jealous Adjective,” which teaches the parts of speech in a fun way. He also teaches adults, helping them to get their GED. His commitment to his church and the tutoring program he has for the children are ways he uses to ensure that our students fulfil their dreams. He started teaching long before he became certified by teaching his two sons. It was his teaching them that made him want to teach others.

Mary Collins
Weinland Park Elementary
Nominated by Merele Wilder

This is Mary Collins is spending 41st year as a teacher with Columbus City Schools. She was recruited to teach in Columbus right out of college at Alabama State University and started her career at Second Avenue Elementary, where she was one of only two Black teachers. She remained there for 35 years until Second Avenue was closed and combined with Weinland Park, where she has made her new home. Ms. Collins has been a classroom teacher her whole career, long enough that she now is teaching the children of former students. As a child and young adult, Ms. Collins participated in the Civil Rights Movement in Mobile, Alabama. While growing up, she experienced constant segregation and blatant racism: separate schooling; separate areas in movie theaters; even separate shopping areas in grocery stores, with most produce being substandard. (Ms. Collins gained her gardening expertise because of her family growing most of their produce in a home garden.) Ms. Collins uses her life experiences to help students understand reality. She imparts this knowledge in a matter of fact way, without being confrontational or controversial. Ms. Collins does not just teach the academics, she teaches her students to persevere, because hard work will pay off. She teaches her students to be responsible and to take pride in their work. Most importantly, Ms. Collins teaches her students to believe in achieving their goals. She is living proof that you can reach your dreams and be successful.

Christine Colvin
Fox Chapel Area High School
Social Studies Teacher
Nominated by Diana Sayre

Ms. Colvin is an inspiring teacher who challenges as well as supports her students in achieving their highest potential. Because Ms. Colvin has high expectations for her students, her students increase their academic skills while at the same time expand their intellectual curiosity and love of learning. Ms. Colvin is truly a wonderful educator.

Meg Cook
Winthrop High School
Latin Teacher
Nominated by Priscilla Jenkins

Meg has been inspiring students with the classics her entire career. She has sponsored the Latin Club – for over a quarter century at least. Our Latin Club has been a leader regionally and even nationally. Many students attest to her leadership and inspiration.

Hillary Crain
Meridian CUSD 101
First Grade Teacher
Nominated by Gayla Dial

When Mrs. Crain began teaching at Meridian she was a new teacher. She began teaching in the first grade and became a key staff member. She arrived at school early and stayed late on a regular basis. She became the box top coordinator and was on most committees. The test scores of her students are always outstanding because of her commitment to learning. She did all this while also caring for her husband and children. Hillary Crain is an outstanding young leader in education.

Kimberly Crandall
John Marshall High School
Guidance Counselor
Nominated by Thomas Pottkotter

Mrs. Crandall has been a very dedicated educator throughout her career. She has worked to provide many opportunities and experiences for her students to become quality students and citizens in their communities. Mrs. Crandall has been recognized by her students, peers, and administrators for inspiring students that she has worked with in the Cleveland Public School System.

Desmarie Cremer
Aiea High School
9-12 Dance Teacher
Nominated by Bill Taylor

In an urban setting in Hawaii, ballet and classical dance training is provided to students. As a result of this training, many of Desmarie’s students attend college dance programs around the world. Training a troupe of dancers to perform in shows each semester takes hundreds of hours after-school and weekends. She does it all through her own money and with little help or support from others. It is her vision of her students’ future lives that have inspired many to go on to bigger and better things.

Sheryl Crouch
Eagle Woods Academy
Nominated by Angela Tucker-Holmes

Mrs. Crouch is a first time teacher, who is taking on five different subjects and do five different plans. She is getting it done, along with going to school herself and holding down a family! The students just love her. She is a special woman.

Ann Crowell
Alachya County Public Schools Head Start
Director of Head Start
Nominated by Peggy Ferguson

Mrs. Crowell is an advocate for children and families. She has a passion and love for her families and communities. Her program serves 600 children. They used to serve 640 but, due to sequestration, 40 children are missing out of the best beginnings a child can have in life. She is involved in her church and community in letting them know the importance of getting to the children while they are very young. She takes time out of her busy schedule to meet and greet parents and children no matter where she is or what she is doing. She has a true heart for people. She cares about the children, families, and communities in her program. She assists the parents in their needs for household items, clothing, and transportation through outreach programs within her community. I proudly nominate her for this recognition.

Doris B. Cureton
Francis Marion High School
Assistant Principal
Nominated by Tammera Billingsley

Dr. Doris B. Cureton deserves to be recognized because of her commitment and dedication to teaching and learning. Dr. Cureton is committed to academic excellence and professional growth and development one student and one educator at a time. Moreover, Dr. Cureton believes all students can learn provided the conditions are conducive to effective teaching and learning.

Mary Czerniejewski
Retired from St. Michael of Radom and St. Ann of Nashville
Teacher and Principal
Nominated by JoAnn Barczewski

Mary is the epitome of a diligent, intelligent, kind, religious person whose chosen profession was rightly so as a teacher. She just brought out the best in her students and they knew they had to do their best to survive in this world. She also at the same time took on the duties of principal at St. Michael to which she added valuable personal teaching knowledge at her various meetings with other principals and colleagues, but her students did not suffer with the added duties. She is not one to look for accolades for what she has accomplished which is why I think she deserves this honor today.

Michelle DaCosta
Woodrow Wilson Elementary School
Vice Principal
Nominated by Amy Graff

Michelle is our new Vice Principal this year. She has been involved with our bilingual population for many years providing her invaluable knowledge, expertise and resources to teachers and students in need. She has also been a teacher and an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program Coordinator. Her dedication, energy, and professionalism make her an amazing educator. She deserves recognition for all that she has done and all that she does. Thank you.

Georgia Dalrymple
Edison Middle School
Spanish teacher
Nominated by Nick Dalrymple

Georgia has been a teacher since 1971. During that time she has been an example of kindness and understanding to students and staff. We have all learned so much from her. It is impossible to go anywhere around town without current and former students and parents stopping her to express their pleasure in her teaching. Georgia has been Saint Joseph/Ogden Teacher of the Year, I.E.A. Representative to two National Conferences and currently belongs to both the IEA/NEA and the AFT.

Debbie Davis
Magnolia Elementary
3rd Grade Teacher
Nominated by Lakola Cook and Sarah Thompson

[ed note: from Lakola] Mrs. Davis has been a teacher at Magnolia since I was a student there. Since then, she has taught my daughter 2 years. All the students love her and those that have been privileged to work with her. Many local and nonlocal educators have enjoyed observing her classes. She has outstanding scores every year and classroom management. Everyone knows her class always has excellent behavior due to her high expectations. I don’t know of a better way to not only honor her hard work and to let her know how much we care during the loss of her father (her best friend) than to nominate Mrs. Debbie Davis for this award in Education. She deserves the best!

[ed note: from Sarah]: Ms Davis is a phenomenal teacher. She always has the highest test grades in the school. Her class is ver well structured! For her it’s not about financial gain it’s about our future! She puts her heart and soul into her kids. She’s deserves nothing but the best…she works so hard.

Dillon Davis
Moore County High School
Student, Senior
Nominated by Marie Syler

Dillon is a smart , talented athlete. When Dillon was in the 4th grade, his mother was diagnosis end with Malanoma cancer. Dillon has grown up helping care for his sister and brother after his father and mother divorced due to his mother’s illness. Dillon has worked, studied, played sports and been a leader amongst his friends and an inspiration to his community.

Madeline Denehy
Sewanhaka High School
8th Grade Student
Nominated by Diane Ventura

Maddie is an intelligent and enthusiastic student. Maddie is a hard worker and cares about her peers. As president of her class she helped organize a fundraiser to raise money for prostate cancer in which students and teachers shaved their mustaches for this great cause.

Theresa Dudley
Benjamin Tasker Middle School
Geography Teacher
Nominated by Michael Smith, Brittney Smith, Chiderah Harley and Jay Walter

[ed note: from Michael] She is a great teacher. She likes to make everything as fun as possible.

[ed note: from Brittney] This educator deserves to be recognized because she is funny, she always helps student when in need, and she has a way of making people believe in themselves.

[ed note: from Chiderah] She is loyal and nice.

[ed note: from Jay] She is teaching us about the world.

Sydney Dunnam
Texas Tech University
Student Senior
Nominated by Brenda Dunnam

Sydney has a 4.0 that she has kept her entire time in college. She will be graduating a year early, this coming May. She has had an outside job for most of that time, and has been a Big Sister for the Big Brother/Big Sister organization.

Cynthia Eagleton
San Mateo Adult School
Nominated by Karen Arthur

Cynthia works tirelessly to advocate for adult education. She runs the Adult Education Matters blog, works with me at Alliance for California Adult Schools, writes an ESL blog, runs the FB page for SMAS and works behind the scenes to connect activists who share a vision for the future of adult ed. Most importantly, she remains positive and inspires others to do the same. She started the petition to rebuild adult ed and fight for designated funding. She never seeks recognition and shares her hard work freely with other educators. She always thinks of students and what is ultimately best for our society.

Ilene Eddey
Lafayette Learning Center
Preschool Teacher
Nominated by Terri Brennan

Ilene teaches preschool students in the Morris School District. Many of her students come from non-English speaking homes and this is the family’s first experience with an American school. Ilene makes sure that all her students have everything they need to have a good school experience. She works with the families to increase their comfort level. Her class provides a variety of appropriate activities that increase language, cognition, independence and social and emotional development. Her class is a happy place for children.

Brad Edom
East Union High School
Nominated by Kim Ray

Brad is a gifted teacher who helps our students to better understand both modern and contemporary literature. His rapport with the students is exemplary and he is an all-around wonderful person.

Robert Ellis
Richmond Unified School District
First Grade Teacher
Nominated by Stacey Noble

Robert’s middle name should be Seuss, as in Dr. Seuss. For Robert, every day is “Read Across America Day”. At any given time of the day, you will catch Robert teaching a student how to read a book, listening to a student read a book, discussing a book, or reading a book in a nice quiet area. He is as dedicated to representing teachers as he is educating his students. The city of Richmond is fortunate to have Mr. Ellis as a member of their school community.

Eric Emans
Olympic High School
Photography, Graphic Arts, Annual Advisor
Nominated by Carl Olson

Eric has been an inspirational member of the WEA Chorus which has appeared at a number of pro-education rallies energizing the attendees through song.

Maria Lourdes Esparza
Whittier Intermediate School
Bilingual 5th Grade Teacher
Nominated by Debra Hicks

Ms. Esparza always goes above and beyond to help both her students and her colleagues. She works hard to make sure that all of her students are able to do their best, no matter what academic level or capacity of English-speaking they are. She is loved by all of her students, and was invited to be an honored guest by one of her former students at their high school graduation ceremony last spring. She spends so much of her own out-of-pocket monies to make sure her students have not only the needed supplies, but also numerous treasured gifts to be remembered long after they leave her. As a co-worker, she is a role model for all and is always quick to share a good lesson she found, along with the materials to go with it. While most of us just have to plan for lessons in one language, as a bilingual teacher Ms. Esparza teaches in two languages. Many, if not most, of the lessons she teaches must also be translated into Spanish first, as they are not always available in the language in which they need to be taught. This goes for hard copies of lessons as well. Ms. Esparza is also devoted to her family. She helps her nieces and nephew by taking them for their before or after school extracurricular activities and helping with their homework too. Despite how busy she is, she always has a smile on her face and is a calming influence and voice of reason in our school for both students and staff. If ever anyone deserved a labor award, it is Ms. Esparza, as for her everything she does is a LABOR of LOVE!

Beth Evans
Ruskin Elementary School
2nd Grade Teacher
Nominated by Jamie Hanson

Mrs. Evans is the most creative, fun, and devoted teacher you’ll ever have. She really cares about her students and has a great relationship with the parents too. I’m in college now, but I will always remember my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Evans!

Jenifer Evans
University of Hawaii at Manoa
College senior
Nominated by Rodney Evans

Jenifer views herself as a survivor, having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, she is proud of her accomplishments that defy the statistics for such victims. She comes from a household that is reliant on government supports. Though she has admitted that some months she finds herself worrying about essentials, she does not let her own situation stop her from giving back to her community. Jen is the College of Education Student Association (CESA) President, getting involved in her community though various projects such as charity walks, color runs, donating food to the Hawaii Food Bank and clothes to Goodwill. Her recent project, in conjunction with CESA and gives her fellow students a chance to enter a $4000 scholarship while reaching out to their community by sending birthday cards to children in local homeless shelters. She continues to find ways to give back, not just locally but globally, having participated in a loan to a woman in Kenya towards the purchase of a water tank. Jen firmly believes that everyone has the ability to do something for their communities, no matter how minute that effort may seem, it contributes to a positive environment and a better future.

Joanne Fawley
Cypress High School
Union President
Nominated by James Goran

Joanne is the best president that the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association has had. She is fair, knowledgeable, and a calm leader.

Marybeth Featherstone
Rockwell Elementary
Second Grade
Nominated by Tracey Laszlo

Marybeth Featherstone is a highly motivated individual who is extremely dedicated to her students and community. She looks after her students’ needs 24/7. Marybeth arrives early and stays late every day. You can find her in school most days during the summer as well. Her organizational skills are unparalleled and her classroom is picture perfect. What really makes her extraordinary is when she is not in the classroom she is out making sure kids have helmets, making home visits to communicate with families (especially those families that speak other languages and have communication barriers), helping neighborhood kids with their homework, gathering up the kids when buses are late to make sure they get to school, fundraising for flags to beautify the streets and even painting rusty old guardrails! Mrs. Featherstone has a positive can-do attitude that is infectious. She makes us all better people.

Kami Feege
O. W. Huth Middle School
7th Grade Math Instructor
Nominated by Renee Covert

Mrs. Feege identifies student deficiencies and creates lessons that engage students. She is supportive of other staff in her building and has excellent sound advice. She is very organized, creative and has a strong work ethic. She is well respected and wonderful to work with. Kami teaches at the school she herself once attended. When I think of an exemplary teacher, I think of her. I consider it a privilege to work with Kami.

Lynda Fischer
Nominated by Monica Wellman

Our principal has stood for best practices and reflective pedagogy despite budget cuts. She goes far beyond her scheduled work hours to show us gratitude for the work we do and recognition for the creativity and excellence we bring to our profession. Her leadership has made us a strong faculty that works together to guide children’s learning and deepen their understanding.

Kimberlee Flores
School for Community Research and Learning
12th Grade Student
Nominated by Jeanette Toomer

Kimberlee has worked very diligently in her English class. Last year she wrote several arguments and essays in her Advanced Placement English class. She earned the highest English grade in her class. She also played on the school’s softball team and became a leader in her class.

Jon Freitag
Rancocas Valley Regional High School
History Teacher
Nominated by Christopher Vota

Jon has fought for the rights of NJEA workers. He has been to Trenton in the rain against Chris Christie’s slanderous bullying of public school teachers, cheering speeches of support from our leaders like Barbara Kesheshian and Lily Eskelsen. Aside from being good for the labor movement, Jon is a good teacher, keeping the students engaged on the history of our country and issues that never seem to go away – like fair working conditions.

Kathleen Fennell
Valliant Middle School
Science Teacher
Nominated by Cynthia Ellis

After more than 25 years of teaching, she is still enthusiastic. She has not lost her sense of humor.

Justin FitzGerald
Bond Mill Elementary School
Nominated by Donna Edwards Henry

Although Justin FitzGerald is an administrator, you can see him in every classroom everyday joining in the lessons with the students. He greets each student and the parents who are dropping off each morning along with the bus students and walkers setting the stage for a super day. Like many schools, ours is a mini United Nations with many 2nd language students. From the neediest homes to those who travel around the world on vacations, Mr. FitzGerald manages to unite them all in a positive, respectful experience. It’s educators like Justin FitzGerald that really make the difference.

Candace Franck
West Covina High School
High School Science Teacher
Nominated by Dena Peoples

Ms. Franck is a devoted teacher to her science students. She spends time after and before school to tutor and support her students. She remembers their special achievements, birthdays and offers positive comments daily to all of her class. She plans special events using her own monies to help her students understand and enjoy the subject matter.

Paula Garfield
Columbus City Schools
High School Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Sally McClure

She led the fight against SB 5/Issue 2, had the most signatures in the state of Ohio, and continues to be active by driving to speak, consult and help other educators in other states fight not only for Unions, schools and teachers rights, but for everyone’s rights. She is published in Working Class Heroes and she gives of her time and her own personal monies to help unite everyone. She always says, “We all have the same attackers, time to unite,” and she is correct. She is the best NEA delegate I’ve ever seen. She is totally involved in fighting for workers’ rights, and is an excellent leader. She is our hero!

Sandra Garrison
William H. Owen Elementary School
4th Grade Educator
Nominated by Melissa Braddock

She is an excellent teacher who loves her students, and makes her students feel good about themselves. She always communicates to her student’s parents and always tends to her student’s needs. She makes learning fun for her students.

Kathy Gaskins
Granger High School
AP Psychology
Nominated by Beckey Carson

Kathy teaches all levels of students to a very diverse population. She thinks outside the box when doing her lesson plans. She has students quacking like ducks down the hall, flushing toilets in large groups and taking notes, dissecting an orange to learn about the brain and the one that I really enjoy, having the students go to the grocery store and adding items to the carts of shoppers and taking notes on their reaction. She makes learning fun and it shows in her test scores. They, like she, are totally amazing. Kathy, more than anyone, deserves this recognition for all of her hard work and effort. The students are on a waiting list for her classes. The administration knows that she is a master teacher, rarely an office referral, with a student body of nearly 3,000 students. The staff at Granger High all admire her and her abilities.

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo
Detroit Public Schools
Education Advocate
Nominated by Wanonna Gray

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo is the epitome of an Education Advocate. In addition to her classroom dedication as a Science teacher, she has fought vehemently against the dismantling of public education and the advancement of a separate and unequal school district as designed by the State of MI. She exhibits an unyielding commitment to her students, and their parents to improve academic achievement. Her relentless spirit of volunteerism is evident in the roles that she serves in as Education Chair of the National Congress of Black Women, hosting Ed Policy Town Halls with civic and grassroots leadership to advance meaningful dialogue to foster positive solutions for academic change. Sherry was recently nominated and appointed to fill a vacancy on the Detroit School Board unanimously by other school board members. Her efforts are supportive of our students and educators working in the trenches daily to transform public education.

Glenda Gerde
Loma Portal Elementary School
Nominated by LuAnn Wherry

Every year Glenda goes to bat for all children and staff at Loma Portal. Despite continual budget cuts she provides a safe community in which people can learn and grow and motivates her staff to help the children achieve amazing things.

Nkenge Gilliam
Elmont Memorial High School
Social Studies Teacher
Nominated by Wendy Tague

Ms. Gilliam is amazing. Most recently, she traveled to CHINA with the Model United Nations club. While there, she and her students won best small delegation. Ms. Gilliam raised $45,000 to finance the cost of the trip. She spends countless hours preparing the students for events. She is a worthy role model for staff and students. I do not know of another educator that works harder or who is held in higher esteem by her students and colleagues. She deserves to be recognized, she avoids taking credit for the work she does. It is always about the kids, but this time it should be about her!

Betty Girouard
Rene Rost Middle school
Retired Teacher
Nominated by Deborah Meaux

Miss Betty, as everyone addresses her, is both a locally revered education activist and caring educator in Vermilion Parish in Louisiana.  Though retired she remains a visible and vocal presence in her retired state local and curator of the local city museum.  In 1988, she led the Vermilion Association of Educators in a 12 day strike that concluded successfully with obtaining of mutual agreement to begin collectively bargaining a contract that is still actively bargained and adhered to to this very day, twenty-five years later.  She is remember by all her students as a no-nonsense teacher with a heart dedicated to helping her students learn Louisiana history, a passion she keeps alive by curating the local city museum.  Her influence is still felt in the community and her leadership twenty-five years ago is a major reason Vermilion Parish is one of the top ranking school systems in the state despite inadequate levels of funding and its rural location along coastal Louisiana, which makes it susceptible to devastation from hurricanes (Hurricane Rita in September 2005 and Hurricane Ike in September 2008).  It is an honor for me to nominate this icon of parish history.  She represents what is right with education and educators in our parish, state, and country today.

MaryAnn Gordon
Sayreville Middle School
Industrial Arts/Life Skills Teacher
Nominated by Marleen Lewandowski

For over thirty years MaryAnn has worked with special needs children. Her dedication to these children and now adults goes beyond the classroom to a camp that she runs every weekend and summer. The campers gather with mostly volunteer counselors for socialization through crafts,games and exercising. MaryAnn keeps them coming back by creating special theme activities. Many of the counselor are former campers, who help promote self-esteem and responsibility. MaryAnn’s devotion to her job, our community, and to the association needs to be recognized. She has inspired me and many others to be more active and involved in our careers and community. I feel privileged to call her a friend.

Erica Gorrell
South Dover Elementary School
Kindergarten special education teacher
Nominated by Suzanne McKeaon

I have had the extreme pleasure to work with Mrs. Gorrell as her para-educator. She is by far the most caring teacher to all her students no matter their disability. She treats all her students the same. All of her students succeed because she believes in everyone has the potential to learn. Because of her belief, her students give her 100 percent every day. Her love of teaching comes through with her students and staff.

Natalie Gould
Grissom Elementary
Elementary Educator
Nominated by Ellen Bracken

My daughter was identified over the summer between kindergarten and first grade with a mild form of Aspberger’s Syndrome. She was lucky to have Miss Gould as her teacher. I was worried as I left my baby and her issues with a first year teacher. I was a career teacher with over 15-years experience and knew it would be a challenge. I watched in amazement as she tried many different approaches with not only my daughter but also other students with issues in her class. She was not only loved and respected by her students, but also the parents of those kids. I feel very lucky that in that pivotal year that Miss Gould was the one taking care of my child. Thanks to Natalie!

Jill Green
Washington High School
Nominated by Helene Forcier

Jill runs the most active service club for students in the United States. She has over 150 students participating and volunteering and doing projects they never even imagined doing. They feed the homeless, make back-packs for Iraqi children for school, garden for a retired community, read to the victims of homelessness in our area, and so on. She has two to three projects running each week. This school is a school the government has labeled poor, which makes her efforts even more amazing. One night a girl whispered to her that she used to live in the very shelter Jill was serving food in. This is on top of teaching AP English, regular junior English, and Newspaper. She deserves all the kudos she gets.

Dawn Greening
Brennan Middle School
5th Grade Classroom Teacher
Nominated by Donald Blackwell

Dawn is extremely creative with her lessons. She brings out the creativity and imagination of her students. Each student is important to Dawn, and by her actions, each child that enters her classroom so realize this. She takes pride in her work and her teaching skills. She has a lively, interactive classroom. She is definitely deserving of recognition.

Mitch Gross
Iowa City West High School
High School Social Studies
Nominated by Nancy Porter

Mitch Gross has helped negotiate our contract for the ICEA for the last several years, teaches full time and has a lovely wife and daughters. He also serves on a local city council, Coralville, IA. He truly knows the meaning of involvement and giving to the community. Most recently he served on the ICEA school board interview team.

Denise Gustafson
Goynes Elementary School
Elementary Librarian
Nominated by Susan Lefave

She has maintained the Accelerator reading program for our whole school. She is always there to help other teachers obtaining books and other information that allows for teachers to succeed in the classroom. She spends many weekends at the school preparing and cataloging for the school district and the school. She mentors other Librarians within the school district. She is a good person that goes out of her way to be helpful to others.

Shawna Hagan
Daviess County High School
ELL Aide
Nominated by Beverly Payne

Shawna has always taken the time to do a little extra. She started as a Media Specialist at our school and did a great job volunteering her time to help us complete our Response to Intervention probes. She also assisted with two school organizations as a sponsor/co-sponsor. Her response to our school-wide recycling has also been outstanding. It has often made her use strength and agility she normally would not as she takes items out to the school totter for recycling. Outside of school, Shawna helps with the local riding association for special needs students. She felt called to assist in some new way and found one she believes in and is devoted to in service. She is wonderful to work with. Always positive and asking how she can assist in any school activity.

Karalee Hagen
Mesa High School
Orchestra Teacher
Nominated by Beth Gilbert

Mrs. Hagen works incredibly hard and is very caring. She consistently goes “above and beyond” what is required. She is passionate and knowledgeable about her subject and always has a positive attitude. She works diligently to help students on an individual basis even though she has large class sizes. Her orchestras develop a great work ethic and learn teamwork and discipline in her class. She deserves recognition for all she does for the Mesa High School Orchestra program!

Stefanie Halliday
Belleville High School
Media Specialist
Nominated by Susan Duda-Osborne

Stefanie has transformed students and teachers at Belleville High School. Having a new high school and transitioning to an extreme amount of technology, Stefanie has helped every person that walks into the school. Students that attend Belleville High School are treated to a true 21st century model of learning having computers for each student and using teaching strategies that are student-focused. Stefanie has been instrumental in ensuring we are ready for the 2013-2014 school year and I appreciate her dedication to staff and students at Belleville High School. On Labor Day, I want to honor Stefanie for her dedication to her career!

Kay Hansen
Denmark Elementary
Special Education Paraprofessional
Nominated by Kathy Romsos

Kay works tirelessly for the benefit of our students, educators and community. She has taken courses on her own time and using her own money to make sure she is a highly qualified professional. She purchases supplies to use with the students and always notices what each of her students needs to feel special and to be successful. Kay has worked to organize programs that benefit our students and community. She helped to start a scholarship program for our students and each year helps to organize the fundraiser to fund these scholarships. She has helped to organize staff members to ring bells for the Salvation Army and to make donations to our local food pantry. She has been active in her union, serving on several committees and is currently co-president of the combined teacher and support staff union and serves on committees for both the Wisconsin Education Council and the National Education Association. Kay shows how much she cares about our students and community in everything she does. For her being a paraprofessional is not a job, but a calling where she really makes a difference for our students.

Albert Harrold
McCluer South- Berkeley High School
Science Teacher
Nominated by Rina Krasney

Mr. Harrold has been very concerned about young African-Americans males in his community and has established and is working hard to build a summer camp to teach his young neighbors life skills and to expose them to a wide variety of cultural activities. His camp is now in its third year and growing. However, a lot of the expenditures come from his own pocket and financial donations have not been as great as he would like. He is an amazing visionary and has wonderful plans to grow and expand the program. Until my retirement this past summer, I worked with Mr. Harrold for several years and think that not only does he deserve special mention on Labor Day, but that, if you could do a story on his fine work in NEA Today, he could begin receiving the kinds of donations he needs for his Strength and Honor Camp.

Marie Hartford
Horace Mann Elementary
Staff Grade 5
Nominated by John Schmied

Ms. Hartford is famous at our school! She works very hard to ensure each student is accepted and that the class room environment is incredible for everyone! She is an expert in all subjects and combines the arts and dance in the curriculum. Ms. Hartford also is head of the school’s Green Team and has repeatedly brought high recognition to the school. Finally, Ms. Hartford is also a key member of the incredible Ground to Sound STEM Environmental Challenge summer camp at the new Brightwater Center. Ms. Hartford is devoted, conscientious and just incredible. She deserves the highest praise.

Amanda Hearn
Alternative Programs, MCPS
School Psychologist
Nominated by Karenina Van Lennep

Ms. Hearn goes above and beyond her prescribed job duties to spearhead our Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) initiative and has been the spark of inspiration for our PBIS committee. She has tirelessly, consistently facilitated this initiative with her enthusiasm and creative approach to improving school climate. Ms. Hearn is highly intelligent and creative. She advocates for students effectively given her tact and sophisticated understanding of the system. This is a boon given that the students come to school with significant needs and challenges and may be marginalized. She is a valuable team member who is dedicated to creating the best quality in terms of interventions for students’ social-emotional wellbeing.

Vanessa Hinton
W.G. Pearson Magnet Elementary School
Teaching Assistant
Nominated by Beverly McNeill

Ms. Hinton is totally committed to her students. She is a very hard worker, who is always willing to do more than is expected, if it will help a child learn.

Bernell Hirtle
Collins Elementary School
Retired Teacher – Reading Resource
Nominated by Pamela Suess

Bernell retired several years ago but continues to volunteer at our school several days a week. She teaches remedial math and reading to primary students who are underserved in our district. She and her friend/partner Roberta also assist us with SST meetings where their many years of experience are invaluable!

Tizbee Holm
Shorecrest High School
Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Kelly Vihnanek

Tizbee is an incredibly passionate and dedicated teacher. She has a great deal of patience. She always has a smile and a kind word for students and staff. Her students always come first and she has a wonderful talent for helping them grow.

Brenda Holmes
Hooper Elementary
School Librarian
Nominated by Kalisha Williams

Brenda truly loves her job and dedicates her time talents.

Beth Horler
S.B. Butler Elementary
Kindergarten Teacher
Nominated by Linda Lew-Roca

Beth began her career in education as a teacher’s aide in a special education classroom many years ago. Since that time, she has developed into an outstanding educator for young faces in her kindergarten classroom. Her dedication and commitment to education include her work for the association: she has served as a political activist, a member of the Board of Directors for her state association, and President of her local. During the past few years, she has raised her son and daughter, both in college now, and helped to care, nurture, and support her husband through his dangerous medical surgeries and treatments for cancer. Beth has strength, courage, fortitude, and a tremendous sense of humor to serve as a leader in her home, school, and association every day. A person like Beth helps to ensure that public schools are great places for learners of all ages.

Brian House
Scioto Ridge Elementary School
Nominated by Alyssa Martinek

Brian has been the backbone of our building’s growth as a Leader in Me School. He is an essential piece in organizing events, creating powerful videos showcasing student work, and continuing our growth as a school. On top of that, Brian is constantly finding new ways to help all of our children meet their full potential. Every building should have a “Brian” on their team!

Gary (Luke) Hunsucker
Archdale-Trinity Middle School
7th-8th Grade Math/Science Teacher
Nominated by Renee Hayes

Luke is the most dedicated educator with which I have ever had the privilege of working. As a science teacher, he consistently provides his students with hands-on experiences that encourage them to think (and act) like real scientists. As a math instructor, he walks classes deliberately and methodically through the most complicated arithmetical operations, challenging them to think through word problems and to apply math to real world situations, often staying long after school to tutor struggling students. As a role model to middle schoolers and their teachers, he creates team-building opportunities that enable his students to grow as people and learn to cooperate and collaborate with others. For over 20 years, he has inspired me and his other colleagues to be the best educators we can be. No one I know labors harder at educating the next generation.

Craig Hurst
Mary Blount Elementary School
Music Specialist
Nominated by Susie Dougherty

Craig Hurst and I have worked together in the music profession for over 25 years. His musical ability and personal pursuit for excellence in his work are admired by me and the community in which he lives. He is an accomplished musician and exemplifies that in his keyboard skills on the piano and organ as well as his singing ability. Performing for weddings and various community events are a part of his very busy life. Music education has provided the opportunity for his skill to be shared with elementary school age children. It is in the arena of teaching that Craig demonstrates his work ethic: organization of his daily lesson plans, connection to the school wide curriculum, and an energetic personality that draws his students into the world of music. In his classroom, he has a positive attitude and enjoys showcasing his students’ talent through many school and community performances each year. Craig has the ability to work with children and adults in such a way that the work is fun, and his encouraging spirit always creates success. The children love him! I appreciate this opportunity to say how much I admire his positive attitude, his outstanding musical ability, and his love of teaching music to children.

Brian Huser
Hudson High School
Social Studies Teacher
Nominated by Tess Rizzardi

Brian has been an outstanding leader using wisdom, common sense and compassion in his teaching and as co-president of our teachers union! He understands what it takes to help explain situations in an understanding way. He has been a dedicated educator for over 20 years!

Allyson Isenhower
Wesclin High School
Nominated by Dawn Isenhower

Allyson is a positive role model for Wesclin High School. She plays three high school varsity sports and club volleyball while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. Last year she witnessed several students bullying another student. She stood up for the girl and stood by her. She took some heat for her decision, but was relentless in her desire for fairness and kind treatment of another student.

Vickie Jackson
Central Middle School
Seventh-Grade Social Studies teacher
Nominated by Roy Elia

Vickie is an inspiration to her colleagues and students. As an Education Support Professional in special education at Central, I have had numerous opportunities to be in Vickie’s classroom and see her passion and desire. She pushes her students to be the best they can be – whether on classwork, tests, or a project in which students are required to gather as much information on an assigned country as they can. Project duties include, but are not limited to, writing to a national representative in Washington, D.C., for information, students baking goods from a recipe of particular nation, and oral presentations with timely facts about one’s assigned country. Vickie also enhances the student experience by organizing annual field trips to OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry). Students earn the opportunity to participate through fundraising activities. Vickie has coached several students in past years who have been in statewide geography bee-type competitions. Many have prospered at the local level before moving on to state. Vickie is active in the Milton-Freewater Education Association. She is a past president and will serve as president-elect this upcoming year. I credit her with giving me the inspiration to be active in the MFEA, which has resulted in my being appointed to regional and statewide positions. I will be serving as secretary for both MFEA and the Columbia River Uniserv Council this year, and am a member of the Oregon Education Association’s Credentials Committee.

Cynthia Jaird
Central Elementary
Nominated by Carla Milano and Marie Bell

[ed note: from Carla] Cynthia cares about her staff, parents and students. She is a visionary. Only a week after school began, she modeled and exhibited respect, support and genuine praise for her team.

[ed note: from Marie] She truly wants each and every student to be empowered to succeed. This Monday she rolled out the ‘real’ red carpet for each and every student to be recognized and valued as a student of Central Elementary, Lewisville, Texas.

Haley Johnson
Poolesville High School
High School Senior
Nominated by Shannon Heaton

Haley Johnson started the Water Project at PHS which raised over $1500 in its first year operating during her sophomore year. This money went towards building a well in Uganda. During Haley’s junior year spring break, she went on a mission trip to Uganda to help teach English and perform other needed services. Haley is also the president of the National Art Honor Society where she helped organize an art auction to raise funds for women’s education worldwide. The auction was so successful that the NAHS was able to donate $1000 to the Women’s Learning Partnership, a non-profit organization which promotes women leaders & education in under-represented nations. I can see Haley running her own non-profit when she is an adult, easily.

Tammy Johnson
Kettle Moraine High School
U.S. Government & History
Nominated by Susan Wood

Tammy deserves to be recognized for her efforts to instruct AP government classes for our students at a level to which 99 + % pass the college exam to pass this college level class. She is president of our teacher union local and is our head grievance person. She keeps our local, regional and state association functioning and serves on district committees at her school. She is an amazing educator and cares about her profession, her students and her colleagues.

Victoria Joseph
Citrus High School
High School/ Citrus County Education Association President
Nominated by Brian Sullivan

In her years as Vice-President and short time as president, Victoria (Vickie) Joseph has shown great leadership and energy to our local union and her students. She dedicates many hours of hard work organizing and leading in a county and state where Unions have been severely weakened. Florida is a right-to work state and with the passing of Senate Bill 736 two years ago, no new teachers have due-process protection, a fact that, with some administrators, makes joining a union more risky than beneficial. In the face of this great adversity, Vickie never loses heart and has shown through example that there is always hope if each of us is willing to stand up and fight for what is right for public education and our students.

Judy Jungheim
Matoska International
Nominated by Pam Winkler

Judy Jungheim was a much loved volunteer at our elementary school. She started helping her daughter, Barb, who was our Media Clerk, and then she branched out to help students in our classrooms. Judy was with our school for three years. She read with students, helped teachers in their rooms, filled books in our Media Center, made mittens and hats for kids who needed them, donated food for snacks for needy kids, watched kids on the playground, and was a lunch buddy to many of our students. Judy became an integral part of our school over those short three years and we were all very sad when she passed away suddenly last July. It’s hard to believe she’s been gone a year already. She became not only a stellar volunteer in my first grade room, she became a very dear friend. Judy inspired me to be the best person I could be each and every day. She helped kids to work hard and to do their best. We have started a service club with her as our “guide” and we are making knitted items for our students. We encourage everyone to do what they can to make a difference each day–it doesn’t need to be much–small things add up. Judy may be gone, and even though we miss her dearly, she continues to inspire us to be our best and to do for others.

Beverly Keefer
Rover Elementary
Grade 5 Teacher
Nominated by Madeline Cole

Bev has been a leader among teachers on our staff for 23 years. She remains on the cusp of innovation and technology for students, to empower them for their future learning. Bev also is quite involved in Meals on Wheels with her church, Tempe Methodist at ASU. She delivers meals and provides company for those who are unable to physically leave their houses. She continuously is involved in planning and brainstorming committees both professionally and religiously because of her insight on how community works.

Michael Kehoe
Kenosha Unified School District
Substitute Teacher
Nominated by Karen Kempinen

As President of the Kenosha Education Substitute Association, Michael has worked tirelessly to secure fair and equitable working conditions and compensation for the substitute teachers of the district. He has also educated district officials regarding the responsibilities and challenges faced by substitutes, and he has helped earn respectful treatment for this group of professionals.

Mary Kate Kilpatrick-Shissler
Hon. Luis Munoz Marin Elementary School
Nominated by Mary Brady

Mary Kate inspires, motivates and teaches kids in a tough neighborhood in North Philadelphia. Despite setbacks, cutbacks, poverty and violence, she goes above and beyond for her kids every day. What she lacks in supplies and support, she makes up for with love, pride and determination. She believes that all children can learn and succeed. Mary Kate is an inspiration not only to the students but to other teachers. She never gives up.

John Kinney
Monfort Heights/Northwest Schools
Music Teacher 1-5
Nominated by Edward Cloughessy

This educator sees more than 500 elementary students each week in music classes. It is his job to include classroom and instrumental instruction. He does so in a manner to make school important to these students, especially those who see no real value in daily school participation. Through his efforts he changes their lives, developing life-long appreciation for this art, not to mention the love and devotion towards their favorite teacher. He spends countless hours on his own supplementing expected classroom activities using all media available, then showcasing the students’ accomplishments. Often “special” classes are relegated to the unnecessary sections of the curriculum, the first to be underfunded or eliminated. This professional understands the value of music to the educated citizen.

Kevin Kowalczyk
New Hyde Park Memorial
Social Studies Teacher
Nominated by Kevin Dolan

Kevin’s dedication to the classroom, extra-curriculars, athletics and the community of New Hyde Park is exemplary. Kevin has been an active union representative as well as executive committee member for years. His example is inspiring and his professionalism is second to none. Previously named Sewanhaka district Teacher of the Year.

Nancy LaChapelle
Woodbrook Middle School
Nominated by Judy Norris-Handy

Nancy has been our principal and has been dedicated to Woodbrook Middle School since 2002. During this time, she has worked daily to transform education for our students. When she came to our Title 1 school in 2002, our test scores were dismal. With her vision of excellence, our student achievement has risen to the upper tiers of the Washington Achievement Index. Our students have increased their skills in Math, Reading and Science. For most of them, they will be first generation college graduates. Nancy always supports staff and seeks to understand the subject content. In these days of high stakes testing, a committed and kind principal sets the tone of the entire building. As a National Board Certified Teacher, I am proud to call Woodbrook Middle School my home, and I am blessed that Nancy LaChapelle is our leader.

Scott Lacy
C F Vigor High School
Nominated by Anita Gibson

Scott is a strong advocate for public education and his union brothers and sisters. He has written hundreds of articles to area and state newspapers, Congress and our state legislators. His passion for public education and the importance of being an active member of AEA cannot be matched. He is tireless in his efforts and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Rachel Langberg
Fuller Elementary School
Fourth Grade Intervention Specialist
Nominated by Jason Langberg

Rachel Langberg is a fourth grade intervention specialist teacher at Fuller Elementary School, a magnet school in a low-wealth area of Raleigh, North Carolina. The 2013-14 school year is Rachel’s eighth year of teaching. She began her career as a kindergarten teacher at the Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She spent three years at the Banneker, primarily teaching students from low-wealth areas of Boston. While teaching at the Banneker, Rachel earned her Master’s in Elementary Education from Cambridge College. After moving to North Carolina in the summer of 2009, Rachel began teaching at Fuller as a K-5 academic support specialist. She was a third grade teacher during her second year at Fuller, and during the last two school years, she was a fourth grade teacher. She has served on the Student Achievement Committee, Family Outreach Committee, and School Improvement Team. During 2009-10 and 2010-11, Rachel taught an elective class called Just-Us-Kids, in which students learned about social justice issues, current events, and the importance of public service. Her students wrote letters to local leaders about their concerns and proposals for change. Last year, she organized a fourth grade-wide “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” as part of Teaching Tolerance’s national campaign to encourage students to identify, question, and cross social boundaries.

Rachel goes above and beyond for her students. For example, after learning that one of her students and her family had become homeless, she raised enough money to pay for two nights in a hotel until the family could find more stable housing. She has successfully fundraised in order for her students to have indoor recess equipment, white boards, iPods, books, bean bags, and field trips. She is currently co-leading an effort to create a community garden at her school. Additionally, she is committed to family engagement, including conducting home visits, leading parent workshops, making weekly phone calls, maintaining a classroom website, publishing classroom newsletters, and attending important events in her students’ lives (e.g., birthday parties, swim meets, and soccer games). She also regularly translates and interprets for Spanish-speaking parents. In her limited free time, Rachel has coached swimming and tutored. During the summer of 2012, she traveled to Ecuador with nine other North Carolina educators as part of the Museum of Natural Sciences’ Educators of Excellence program.

In August 2013, she started a Master’s of School Administration program at North Carolina State University. She will graduate in May 2015 and hopes to become a public school administrator. Rachel holds a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Applied Learning and Development from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a also a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), a state affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). Prior to becoming a teacher, Rachel worked as a Head Counselor and Program Specialist at Ramapo for Children, a camp in New York for children with special needs. She lives in Cary, North Carolina with her husband, an education justice attorney, and her seven-month old son, Everett Lewis. Rachel is incredibly hardworking, dedicated, caring, loving, and inspiring. She spends many late nights and weekends lesson planning, grading papers, talking with students and parents, fundraising, and studying. She sets high expectations for her students; challenges them to push themselves and think critically about the world around them; and helps them develop a passion for learning. She is a “highly effective” teacher, collaborating with specialists and other grade level teachers, all of her students meet or exceed their yearly expected growth. She is also a positive role model for her students. Rachel Langberg is highly deserving of recognition for her tireless efforts.

Wendy LeBlanc-Biddeford
Primary School
2nd Grade Teacher
Nominated by Sally Plourde

Wendy is an inspiration to all her students, colleagues, and friends. Not only is she a passionate educator who strives to be the best she can be, she is also a small business owner of a Jazzercise fitness studio. In the past few months she worked on her Master’s degree, bought a house, taught multiple Jazzercise classes, and changed school districts, all while waiting for the birth of her beautiful twin daughters. Wendy radiates a positive outlook on everything she does. She is an educator who deserves recognition for being a shining example of excellence.

Jeannette LeMense
Farmington Elementary
Special Education 5th Grade
Nominated by Mary Portelli

Jeannette is dedicated to her students and never ever gives up on any of them no matter how challenging they may be. Jeannette herself has been battling ovarian cancer for the past two and a half years and despite this she continues to work and effectively teaches her students. All last school year she would receive chemotherapy treatments every other Thursday and she still showed up at work on Friday morning. Many others would have taken that time off but Jeannette understands how important she is to these students and how they do better with their regular routine and not with a substitute. Jeannette is truly an inspiration to all of us. She still finds time to gather materials and extra things her class needs. I remember her going into a stinky pond so that she could have the right pond water for her students to view under a microscope. When she was teaching her students how to improve their writing skills she had each and everyone of them write their own children’s book. They then went and read their books to students in the younger grades. These are just two examples, but there are so many more. She loves her students and is so dedicated. Jeannette deserves recognition for going above and beyond for her students.

Dena Leinberger
A-C Central Junior High School
Junior High Science Teacher
Nominated by Diane Sieving

Dena is an educator that is an inspiration to all of her co-workers. Not only does she run a tight ship in her classroom, but she excels at meeting the needs of all of her students no matter what their ability is. She is a leader in the use of technology and worked very hard to obtain an online program for her curriculum this year despite obstacles put up by our former superintendent. She is also the one who works hard to understand any new online program given to our district to use and mentors co-workers on how to implement it in their jobs. She coached volleyball at the junior high level for many years and had an extremely successful program. I wish I could list all of her accomplishments as a coach but I just do not have the knowledge of what they were. I just know that she quit coaching the year my daughter was going to begin playing and all of us felt the loss of her as a coach. As a member of our association, she has previously been president but her work on the negotiations team has been instrumental in getting the best contract possible for us. She has also headed up our RIF committee per SB7 and helped to get our district where it needs to be to be in compliance with the law. Beyond any doubt, she has done so much for all in our district that when it comes to the day she retires, we will have lost a truly phenomenal asset.

Andrew Leong
UMass Boston
Nominated by Yvonne DeCelis

Andrew is a passionate and knowledgeable educator. He is inspirational (to say the very least). He “walks the walk” instead of just teaching. I have learned more from him in one year than I have from many others over the course of a decade!

Candace Leverette
Aycock Middle School
Science teacher, 6-8
Nominated by Lena Chapman

Ms. Leverette deserves this nomination because she is one of the most dedicated teachers I know. She loves her students and is committed in making sure that each child is successful. When the bell rings at the end of the school day, her day is not over! She spends countless hours working with the dance team, individual students and taking care of family as well. Her creativity and desire to help her co-workers has also demonstrated her outstanding leadership abilities. I know because nine years ago when she began her first teaching position, I was up with her most of the nights as she spent countless hours making sure her plans met the needs of each student. I am her aunt and I know that she could have chosen another career, but teaching was her choice then and it is now. I just wish every child had a Mrs. Leverette as a teacher.

Tomara Leverington
Monroe High School
Math Teacher
Nominated by Kathy Aldridge

Ms. Leverington goes above and beyond the call of duty in her classroom and in the community. She will clip coupons to buy food for needy students and buy candy as a reward for her students in the classroom. In her classroom, she makes learning fun for all her students. She uses, songs, juggling and games to teach high school students Algebra. Ms. Leverington sets high expectations, keeps her students focused and is consistent with her discipline. She is the epitome of who every parent wants as a teacher. She also serves as mentor to new teachers, helps the administration by giving up her planning period to implement the “lunch detention” program. It is impossible to describe the impact she has with students. She was voted by the senior class to be the speaker at their graduation. That honor alone tells everyone how much she is loved and respected.

Tonya Lightbourne
3rd Grade teacher
Nominated by Florencia Velasco

Ms. Lightbourne is a very inspiring 3rd grade teacher. She really cares for her students. She stays after school to give her time to help her students who need extra help especially in reading. She instills in her students that they can succeed in anything they put their minds to. She expects only the best from each one of her students.

Leslie Lindberg-Harper
Walker Middle School
Instructional Assistant
Nominated by Doris Jared

The students come first with Leslie. Leslie has worked with an after school program that gave the latch key kids somewhere to be after school. Now as the full time release local president, she is involved in the parent home visit program. Leslie always reminds us that the children comes first, we must always strive to put education first.

Brad Livermore
Kennedy Middle School
Teaching Associate with Citizen Schools
Nominated by Arya Zarrinkelk

Someone who has been working as a part time, uninsured and underpaid teacher for 8 years because he is devoted to the children of the Peninsula area of California. He is someone who is a hero.

Sally Lockhart
Little Miami High School
High School Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Kelly Blanchard

Miss Lockhart does more than just teach student in her classroom. She manages all of the special education teacher’s case loads, oversees the writing and maintenance of IEP’s, creates schedules for special Ed students, and communicates with all staff regarding special education issues.

Donna Lopez
Bluestone Middle School
Association Rep
Nominated by Steve Whitten

Donna always put herself first when it comes to the needs of her students. She is loved by all of her students and daily she instills positive words to each of them. Donna does so much behind the scenes which no one even knows about. Fluent in Spanish, she also interprets for our Spanish speaking students in school and with their families in the community. Donna is a loving and caring wife and mother! She is always looking for ways to promote the association and to increase membership. Thank you, Donna, for all you do!

Shauntelle Lopinto
Acadiana High School
English IV Regular, Honors and Advanced Placement
Nominated by Katherine Schexnayder

Shauntelle is the consummate professional in the classroom, always seeking to inspire, educate and uplift. She strives to communicate through complex and intriguing literature the complications of the human heart and does so elegantly. It is through this elegance that she embodies the true spirit of the humanities educator, never forgetting our true academic purpose, which is not testing, but the study of the human condition.

Stephanie Lucich
Merced High School
Junior English Teacher
Nominated by John Rauschkolb

Stephanie puts in endless hours in dedication to all of her students with a true hope for each young person in her class to succeed in making growth in the subject and in life.

Jose Madera
Oah Hills High School
Math Teacher and Math Department Chair
Nominated by Yolette Rios

Mr. Jose Madera is an amazing, enthusiastic, caring, life-long educator. He sets high standards and his students rise to the occasion. Many of Mr. Madera’s former students return from college to let him know that he prepared them extremely well for the rigors of university level math. His students express that they have learned the most about mathematical concepts from Mr. Madera than from any other teacher.

Regina Marek
West Navarre Intermediate School
Paraprofessional – ESE
Nominated by Colleen Marek

My mom is a special needs teacher who loves and cares about every student as if they were her own. She is also VP of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and has helped to distribute school supplies and activity fee money to not only the school she works at but at the other area schools in Navarre, FL. She works with the school to also help our veterans by passing out gift bags and cards on Veteran’s Day which the students make and donate toiletries to. At her school she heads up a recycling program and all of the monies collected are used to help special needs students!

Melanie Matsuda
University of Hawaii at Manoa
College Senior
Nominated by Jenifer Evans

Melanie has always known she wanted to be a teacher. Through her college experience, she has truly become a contributing member of society. She is often presenting new community service opportunities to her club, the College of Education Student Association, for which she is the Vice President. Mel spoke at a teacher rally for new teacher contracts. Her words moved the crowd and surely influenced the new contract that followed a week later. She is a power house, soon to graduate with a B.Ed in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. Mel aspires to earn a Masters in Educational Justice. Striving high and giving back, nothing is going to stop Mel on her journey.

Yurshawn McCree
Eagle Woods Academy
Nominated by Angela Tucker-Holmes

Mrs. Mccree goes above and beyond her duties. She is a person that wears many hats. If anyone needs anything, she is that person to go to. Kudos to her.

Kevin McDonald
Wellesley High School
Choral Specialist
Nominated by Stephen Wrobleski

Dr. McDonald has created a program that is second to none. He uses varied repertoire to reach students of all interests. He voluntarily runs an incredible student centered a cappella program that has over 70 students involved. He is professional, courteous, and one of the nicest human beings you could ever meet.

Michael McDowell
North Fond du Lac High School
Social Studies Teacher
Nominated by Julie Ziegler

I have had the honor of working with Mike for a number of years as a co-teacher and special education support for his social studies classes. Mike is a teacher who is dynamic and he connects with all students. Kids love going into his classroom and his knowledge of his subject is second to none. He has been an advocate for students and for teachers. He is willing to stick his neck out for his fellow educators and also for students. If you would ask any student who has had Mike he will be at the top of their list of great educators.

Donnie (Diana) McGee
Bristol Community College
Professor of English
Nominated by Liz Recko-Morrison

I know of no one who deserves recognition more than Donnie McGee. Inside and outside of the classroom, Donnie fights for her students, her colleagues, and her college. Donnie truly understands that education, especially in public community colleges, is transformational for students. As the VP of the MCCC/MTA/NEA and the MCCC Strategic Action Coordinator, Donnie inspires all of us to work for the common good. She is the epitome of an educator and a union leader; Donnie knows that being active for labor brings about better education. She’s the real deal—I respect her highly.

Vickie McGrane
Harlem Middle School
7th Grade English Language Arts
Nominated by Roderick Moore

Vickie gives selflessly to her students and colleagues. She serves as an exemplary mentor for college students as they begin their clinical experience. She works tirelessly to improve instruction and challenge her students.

Maggie McGuire
Richmond High School
School Counselor
Nominated by JP De Oliveira

She has dedicated her entire career to support inner-city students and empowered numerous students to enter ivy league schools, Universities of California, California State Universities etc. She is the point person for the Adolescent Parent Program. A program designed to maintain pregnant teens in school. I worked with her for two years and she is a model of professionalism, organization, empathy, humanity and educational idealism. I am now at a middle school in a same district and I miss our philosophical discussions. I get to see her at the counselor’s meetings but it is not the same as working alongside her every day. She is truly an amazing educator.

Karen McNamara
Puyallup School District/Puyallup Education Association
Currently serving as our district’s union president
Nominated by Nancy Glen

For the last five years, Karen McNamara has served as our union’s president. She has really gone above and beyond serving our very large district. She is available and present. She brings humor and calm to even the tensest situations. The focus, for both sides, is brought back to the kids. I am honored to nominate her.

Jen Meagher
Andover High School
Nominated by Ed Meagher, Jill Warnshuis and Rebecca Dalise

[ed note: from Ed] Jen was illegally fired as retribution for her activist stands in support of the teachers and students of Andover Public Schools. She was a vocal union leader (Vice President and chair of the Union’s Action Team). Jen and the MTA took the District to the CERB (Commonwealth Employee Relations Board) and, after a year had passed, they decided that the District had acted illegally in firing her. Jen was reinstated to her position. Jen is one of the bravest and most principled people I know. The students of Andover are lucky to have her back in the classroom.

[ed note: from Jill] Jen cares more about the education of our children and the fair treatment of teachers than anyone i know. She recently won a labor board dispute against the Andover school system and got her job back after they unfairly targeted her. She is now back in the classroom where she belongs.

[ed note: from Rebecca] Jennifer is a brave, gifted, and compassionate teacher, who was unfairly fired last year for standing up against her administration for bad educational decisions. Over the past year, she fought a long and tough battle for her position. In July, the Labor Board ruled in her favor. Her colleagues and students are thrilled to have her back again.

Alyce Mercer
Northwood Elementary
5th Grade Science Teacher
Nominated by Martya Hatcher

Alyce Mercer inspires students every day. She has a gentle but strict way of disciplining the students, never raising her voice, but always getting across what she needs the students to do. She goes way above and beyond in preparing her lessons, often working many late hours. Yet somehow, Alyce is always there with a home-baked goody whenever someone is sick, whether it be a colleague or a colleague’s family member. Alyce even keeps up with her students, often contacting them many years after they have left the elementary school just to let them know that she still cares about how they are doing. I cannot think of a more inspiring teacher than Alyce Mercer.

Paul Mielke
West Allis Central High School
Nominated by Nancy Azevedo

Dr. Paul Mielke has been going extra miles every year, especially this school year by empowering all teachers as they begin this school year and ensuring that the school is in tip top shape for the upcoming year! He is down-to-earth, personable and truly cares about us teachers and the students!

Toby Mochel
Buckingham Friends School
Sixth Grade Teacher
Nominated by Bobbie Gilkerson

Toby is a well organized and experienced teacher. He is innovative in his approach and goes the extra mile for his students. Each year he accompanies the class to DC for several days. He produces an awesome end of the year film.

Davon Moody
Bluestone High School
Nominated by Steve Whitten

Davon is an outstanding student to both the student body of Bluestone High School and to the teachers and support personnel in our county. Davon serves as the student liaison on the Mecklenburg County School Board. He is well respected as a student and a friend to many!

Dawn Moretz
Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts
Drama Teacher
Nominated by Gordon Lampley

Dawn excels in the classroom as a highly praised, highly prized and decorated instructor. She also champions education as a leader in her professional organization, NCAE. Dawn is famous for her creative dramatic advocacy before elected bodies.

Robert Mullen
Black River Middle School
Nominated by Kathleen Vespignani

Mr. Robert Mullen works tirelessly to create a high-level education for all of his students, while maintaining a positive and professional relationship with his teachers. His ability to bring out the very best in people is evident in the efforts of the staff and students that make up Black River Middle School. Mr. Mullen is an integral part of what makes our school a great place to work and positively impacts the lives of so many young people on a daily basis! He is a hard-working, honest and fair role model to all who have the privilege of knowing and working with him.

Patricia Murray
Teacher and National Junior Honor Society Advisor
Nominated by Maya Murray

Not only does she do NJHS but she is the Yearbook Adviser as well. She inspires her students to become leaders as a staff member and in the community. She doesn’t do it for them; instead she guides them in how to do it themselves. On top of this she was on the PTO board for 5 years for her own kids. She helped raise money for their school and teachers and walked in the Breast Cancer 3-Day a few years ago too.

Lori Musiel
North Branch Middle School
Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Muriel Davidson-Bratcher

Lori works with Cognitively Impaired and other disabled children in grades 5-8. She basically developed the program at our school and has done an amazing job. Additionally, she was instrumental in getting her students involved in Special Olympics, resulting in many of them being able to compete at the state level at C.M.U. She contributes to the district in other ways as well, as an 8th grade sponsor for the annual Washington D.C. trip. She truly is worthy of recognition for her heart and ongoing contributions to her students and our school. I am proud to call her my friend and colleague.

David Nally
Hosford Middle School
Teacher of Computers, Lego Technology, Technology Education
Nominated by Carol Pinegar

David is kind towards all, quietly passionate about teacher & student rights, and teaches courses that are immediately useful for students as they explore future careers. David is whip smart and is always thinking of ways to solve problems that occur in our school. He teaches in a very engaging way; few students aren’t “hooked” when in his classes.

Cindy Nava
University of New Mexico
Student-Senior majoring in Political Science and Criminology
Nominated by Brenda Liliana Nava Miramontes

Cindy is not only my sister but my role model. As children of immigrants life can be hard and difficult especially when you lack the privilege of a 9 digit number that dictates your opportunities. However, this was never a barrier for Cindy. Aside from achieving things like becoming the first undocumented student to serve as student body president at her first college, achieving the presidential volunteer award, serving as executive director of the governmental affairs agency for the associated students of the university of New Mexico, being admitted into state and national internships and fellowships, Cindy has never forgotten where she came from. Cindy’s experience and dedication to serving her community and passion for helping other students continue their education is admirable. Cindy has gone above and beyond expectations of what any young person would try to reach for, much less without having a legal status in the country. My sister adores this country above all things and her accomplishments go past measures and logical understanding. Having had to pay out of pocket to continue her dreams and goals and having faced 3 lung collapses that landed in an emergency lung surgery was not enough to stop my warrior sister. Her understanding of logic and work towards the promise of a greater good for those in need is remarkable and truly amazing. My sister is a not only a DREAMer, but a dreamer with a plan for each dream she has crossed out of her list. Cindy is not only a pride for our family and friends but I know Cindy will be a pride for our country in the years to come.

Michael Nelson
Henry County High School
Band Director
Nominated by Crystal Nelson

Michael puts in extra time above and beyond the call of duty for his band students. During the summer he ran with the students three days a week, for those that wanted to, to improve his students’ health and athleticism. During the summer, he also met small groups of students for sectionals. During the school year he works tirelessly, writing the drill for the marching show, arranging music for the students to play, and staying late for rehearsals and parent meetings. He participates in almost every fundraiser, organizes small ensembles to perform for community functions, and gives up his weekends for band functions. Last year, he even coordinated with the Jr. Relay for Life Team to put on a concert with the band and high school choir to raise money for Relay for Life. He pushes his students to do their best, gives them opportunities they might not have otherwise, and does everything he can to structure their success.

Lisa Noack
Coleman Elementary School
3rd Grade Classroom Educator
Nominated by Jennifer Zantow

Lisa in an incredible woman. Not only has she devoted herself the art of teaching children, but has championed union rights and protections. She spends countless hours keeping the rest of us updated on NEA and MEA news, spending time going to the state senate and house fighting for us all, and always takes time to listen and take action on behalf of any member that calls on her-no matter how small the issue may seem. She is one of the reasons that I have not left the profession. If every building had a rep like Lisa, ALL teachers and support staff would benefit in immeasurable ways.

Stacey Noble
Barbara Comstock Morse Elementary School
Sixth Grade Teacher
Nominated by Raymond Noble

My wife, Stacey Noble, deserves to be recognized this Labor Day because she reminds me that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. Stacey is an educator in every sense of the word. From the classroom, to the grocery store, to the state houses, every bit of her 5 foot, 2 and a half inch frame commands a revered respect from all she encounters. I could go on about her volunteerism in the community and her commitment to her students, teachers association, and school district, but that would trivialize the essence of who she is. She is a beacon who selflessly shares her eternal light to make the world a better place to live and thrive.

Jennifer Novich
Springdale Jr./Sr. High School
Learning Support Teacher / Union (AVEA) President
Nominated by Christopher Squire

Jennifer is a tireless advocate for the students in her special education classes and the teachers in our school district. She is an outstanding educator, union professional and individual.

Matthew Nuss
Western Middle School
Humanities teacher
Nominated by Kay Lazar

Matthew has been a lifelong educator and learner. He team teaches, coaches both athletics and academic teams, and he is a professional development leader within the school corporation. He started the putting for pets campaign to get students involved in community service, he directs the paper caper drive for his team as he collects toilet paper for the Salvation Army, and he works with veterans and Riley Hospital for the pop tab drive. But kids are always first in Matthew’s life.

Jeff Olschki
Heritage College
Nominated by James Gold

Jeff is one of the most brilliant and well informed instructors in his area of expertise. He has the highest degree of professionalism and is an amazing teacher. He makes learning fun and easy. I am a co-teacher with Jeff. He teaches very detailed anatomy and physiology, and I teach practical application. It is always a joy to sit in his lecture and see how easy he can make a very complicated subject. It makes me jealous of his knowledge and skills and inspires me to be a better teacher every day.

Wayne Osborn
Hillside Elementary School
Librarian and Technology Teacher
Nominated by Desiree Sumers

Wayne is our school’s librarian and technology teacher. Wayne is an inspiration to all that work with him. He was the first in our school to become a National Board Certified Teacher. He not only inspired us to attempt the process ourselves but often read our entries and helped us download our videos. He has written and won many grants that benefited our school and students bringing student response clickers, Smart boards, a green screen, video equipment and IPads to our school for our teachers and students to use. Outside of school he is as generous with his time helping the homeless by working in a program at his church. He also creates and runs the video for church services at his church two Sundays a month. He has taught numerous professional development classes within our district and a year and a half ago he taught technology classes to teachers in another country (I believe it was in Peru, but I’m not sure of the country). He is one of the most knowledgeable, informed teachers that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. In addition, he is the kindest, most generous, thoughtful person I have ever known! I hope that you will take the time to learn more about him and I am sure that if you do you will choose to honor him this Labor Day.

John Ostrowski
Roberts-Naylor K-8
English Development Teacher 6,7,8
Nominated by Bridget Burton

Mr. John, as he is known by his students, teaches intermediate English level Refugee and recent Immigrant middle schoolers the ways of our USA through English instruction. He is like an American Father, and solid role model to them. He is a Vietnam Vet that made his way into teaching later in life after many adventures in life. He gives a darn about these kids who have had a very hard journey in life thus far. He doesn’t just teach English to them, he teaches life skills and character development to them. Mr. John has worked with these kids for over 10 years in a low socio-economic environment and school. He is a special teacher!

Patricia Parker
GraMar Middle School
Media Specialist
Nominated by Brenda Oldham

Patricia provides an inviting place for students to learn to love to read. She is always available as a resource and goes over and beyond to aid her teachers in raising reading levels for the success of her students. She has been instrumental in her school for raising awareness of what reading each day can do to make a difference in student achievement.

Tracy Patterson
Celeste Henkel Elementary School
1st Grade
Nominated by Pam Patterson

My sister Tracy is a full time single Mom and a full time teacher. She raises me and my 5 year old “sister” with little assistance from others. I have Autism and she has to help me do a lot of stuff. She does all of this for me while also taking care of things Mia, my “sister” needs. We always have the things we need, but most importantly, we get tons of love. We never go to sleep at night without being read a story, saying our prayers, and getting nighttime kisses. I know it has to be hard on her to do all she does, but she does a great job at it.

Sara Patton
Kutztown Elementary School
Kindergarten Teacher
Nominated by Gail Meister

She goes beyond any of the standard work necessary to have her classroom run smoothly and her children excel. Her students have done very well and succeeded in the first grade beyond the norm. She spends all summer looking for interesting ways to present her lessons so none are boring to her students and they challenge each and every one. She is indeed a child centered teacher that never gives up on any of her students.

Marcy Payoyo
Hanford High School
Math teacher
Nominated by Dwayne Tubbs

Besides always being positive in her classroom Mrs. Payoyo has gone above and beyond outside the classroom to help her students succeed. She has gathered school supplies for students in need. She has donated and raised money so students could have experiences they otherwise would have missed out on. There are students whose lives have been changed forever because Mrs. Payoyo has inspired them to raise their expectations for themselves.

Jessica Pedroza
Gunderson HS
11th Grade Student
Nominated by Becca Lynn Yee

I met Jessica when she was in the 8th grade. I took a position as an autism specialist. Jessica was having some issues so I made a deal with the principal that she could come and mentor my students with autism when her work was done in each class. She did, but also came at noon and has been with new students each and evey summer since that first year. She got a summer job this year, but still came to work with my students. She also brings a new friend each year to learning about and work with my autism students. Very unusual for a teen.

Holly Perdue
Unicoi County High School
9-12 math, track and volleyball
Nominated by Robert Thomas

She is a great teacher and coach. During a time when few teachers can only teach, she does it all.

Chris Pierson
Peoria High School
Director of Instrumental Music
Nominated by Jenny Bement

My colleague Chris Pierson deserves to be nominated for his work at Peoria high school. He works tirelessly to inspire his students of the panther pride music program, help them to continue their music education beyond high school and if he were asked why is he a teacher he would state because I want to help make the world better. I have been friends and a coworker with Chris Pierson for ten years. He has helped to make me the educator I am today and really has helped to shape his former students into educators today. Last year we had twenty-one seniors in the band who graduated and twenty of them continued on to be music majors in college or continued to play their instrument in college. Many of those students received full ride scholarships to in-state AZ universities as well as to many outside the state. Chris Pierson not only teaches music but shares his love of science through music. A former employee of NASA, he helps instill that love and fire for learning in all subjects and also helps to tutor our students. He wants to make our students as successful as possible and sometimes puts his life on hold to make sure his students grasp and have an understanding of key ideas. He uses his scientific humor and knowledge to his ability and explains the science of how music works with sound. Mr.pierson is someone whom many know that they can rely on when they are going through a hard time, when they are happy or when a major life event happens. He is always there for his students, his friends and perfect strangers. He is a teacher everyone should know about, not only because he is my friend, but because he inspires others to be better than they are.

Jeff Pietila
Wahluke High School
Nominated by Jose Vidot

When I arrived here 5 years ago, the school was in disarray. In mathematics we were at 7% achievement on the state assessment. Today we are as high as 89% achievement in Geometry and almost 70% in Algebra. The school has grown in leaps and bounds as we have implemented a variety of innovative programs both in progressive STEM areas as well as in remediation for at risk learners. Mr. Pietila always handles situations with calm and wisdom and never seems to panic or get overly excited when a situation or problem arises, yet shows great enthusiasm for student and staff success. He is my idea of a supportive and ideal school leader both at a school building level and as a leader educator.

Marilyn Pitts
Mt Hood Community College
Nominated by Barbara DeShirley

Marilyn works tirelessly on behalf of her students and fellow colleagues. She puts students’ needs first and works to help each student learn to the best of their ability using that student’s favored learning style.

Tracy Pope
Cabrillo Middle School
English, Journalism, Social Science
Nominated by Michael Hickey

Tracy Pope served as president of the United Teachers of Santa Clara for the last six years. Tracy has been a committed advocate for our profession and for the rights of her colleagues. She encouraged me to succeed her as president of the association and her unwavering commitment to stand up for herself and our members has been an inspiration.

Nikki Porter
Campbell Elementary School
Fourth Grade Teacher
Nominated by Terrica Sloan

Mrs. Porter has been an educator for over ten years. She lives in the community in which she teaches making a true investment. She has volunteered as a Girl Scout Troop Leader, attends her students’ sports games on the weekend, spends her personal money on needed materials and supplies for her students. She was recently certified as a Georgia Master Teacher because of her proven dedication to student achievement. She arrives to work early and stays late even though she has young children of her own. Mrs. Porter now serves as a mentor to new and prospective teachers. She is always doing her part to educate everyone that crosses her path. Mrs. Porter deserves to be recognized.

Donna Potaczek
Central Office Geneva 304
Math Program Facilitator- Curriculum
Nominated by Dawn Lutz

Donna was the Accelerated/Enriched teacher at Williamsburg Elementary before she became the entire district facilitator. She would come into classrooms and demonstrate problem solving techniques. Now she is using her expertise and strong work ethic to facilitate Common Core for the whole district. She created a Gamification site for teachers to read articles, learn technology, and practice methods for points. She also made the site teacher friendly so we could get information and standards for ourselves and activities to use with our students. She also runs professional development and in-service training for our teachers using her organized, warm, quiet, and delightful teaching methods. Our district is so incredibly lucky to have Donna Potaczek as a resource! She is amazing!

Susan Powers
Lahaina Intermediate
Art Teacher
Nominated by Haley Van Noord

Susan works tirelessly with our intermediate students to build confidence, teach team work, and incorporate core subjects into her art class all while inspiring our talented diverse learners to be the best artists they can be. In a time when the arts are being pushed to the side so students can focus on common core standards, Susan makes learning meaningful by allowing a special venue for all students to find success through art.

Cindy Price
Southern Elementary
Kindergarten Teacher
Nominated by Emily Derby

Cindy is a dedicated, hard-working educator who puts in hours and hours of her own time for her students. She is always reading new books and incorporating new strategies and techniques in her classroom. She has a great relationship with the families of her students and she is still enthusiastic and loves teaching after 20 years.

Suzanne Price
Muskegon Heights Academy
Elementary School, First Grade
Nominated by Glenn Eacker

Suzanne is truly remarkable as a person and as an educator. She teaches in the first school system in Michigan to be converted from a public school to an academy run by a for-profit corporation. This was done by the governor and his designated Emergency Financial Manager. It caused tremendous upheaval in that community, a very difficult atmosphere in the classroom, and about a third of the teachers hired quit in the first few months. Suzanne, however, saw it as her mission and for her large class of first graders to stay and be there for them. It was extremely difficult at first, but she saw “rays of light” gradually appear through her efforts, and she felt rewarded. Muskegon Heights has a nearly all black student population with the majority living below the poverty line. Suzanne is white. I feel that just the fact that she has stayed, and showed acceptance of these students and their situation has been a model for interracial harmony. She has also collected books for the school’s library which they needed badly.

Clifford Pulley
Parchment High School
College Student
Nominated by Nancy Looper

I am a teacher at Parchment High School. I was honored to have an amazing student for four years. He struggled in reading and writing but soaked in every lesson I taught him. He spent every available moment mastering his lessons. What sets him apart is his unwavering love of education. He used his education to help him achieve an Eagle Scout award where he conducted a community project to provide Homeless kits to people who had no home. These kits had deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, and other necessities.

Cliff went on to attend WMU where he is an active member of his community there. He was voted Homecoming King for his countless hours of community service. At WMU, he gives tours to freshmen as well–to show what a great place WMU is. Also, he is a study abroad student and has traveled the world. He just got back from studying in China for the last six months. He has given back to our school by coming back to Parchment High School to motivate other students who were in his shoes at PHS. Cliff has a passion for people and a drive for education. He wants to be a white house intern one day, then an ambassador, and eventually President of the United States. There is no doubt that this role is a probability for this young man. If you interview him, you will be convinced of the same.

Eric Pulver
Holt High School
Science Teacher and Union President
Nominated by Mary Boulanger

Eric Pulver works tirelessly for his students. He presents hands-on activities and challenges all learners to make sense of science. He has high expectations for his students and provides them the support that they need to meet those expectations. Not only is he a great teacher, but he is a caring union president who works to insure that all of the educators in the district are treated fairly. On this Labor Day, I would like to recognize Mr. Eric Pulver for all of his hard work on behalf of his students and colleagues!

Hilarie Rath
Aldo Leopold Community School
Teacher, Combined Fourth and Fifth Grade
Nominated by Donald R Vineburg

Hilarie Rath exhibits all that is good about gifted teachers. She treats each child and their family as though they were the only one with whom she need work. (Class size increased last year from 23 to 28!) She selflessly uses her own time to check things out, be it by visiting the site of a class trip prior to the event or contacting, perhaps visiting a child’s home, if there is a concern. I know all this because I volunteer daily in her class to help students with language arts and writing. The children cannot wait until it is their time to read with her individually, even when they realize they are being evaluated, because at that time, they are the most important person in the classroom. Be it learning to make their own paper on which to inscribe their original poetry, or chasing the crickets who escaped while using the Einstein kit, each experience is made memorable and becomes a positive learning event in her classroom. Being with the children and Hilarie in this creative and warm situation has enriched my retirement years, and I believe the experience might even have added to my longevity.

Joy Redmann
Athens Middle School
Eighth Grade Teacher
Nominated by Jennifer Jennings

Joy has taught numerous grades over the years. She has had my children, who have special needs, for both 1st and 3rd grades. My daughter has severe ADHD, and she was so patient and caring with her, teaching her what she needed, how she needed. She truly differentiates for all children and with enthusiasm.

Robert Reister
Forsyth County Winston-Salem School Administration
Substitute math teacher and tutor
Nominated by Ana Tampanna

Robert Reister is totally committed to impacting students as a substitute teacher. He makes sure no one falls behind during a teacher’s absence. Many times he creates lesson plans when there aren’t any, or he teaches in a way that is so clear, the slowest student gets it.

Rebecca Riordan
Black River Middle School
Grade 8
Nominated by Joseph Pizzo

During this past summer, Rebecca organized a series of visits to the Morris View Nursing Home. She, her younger sister, her mom (who works as a therapist there), three other students and I visited once a week for a month. A small group of the residents told their stories, which the students are writing up to share with the residents. There are plans to expand the program in the upcoming school year to include more students to join us for more visits.

Michelle Ritt
Madison Metropolitan School District
Nominated by Kevin Attaway

My colleague, Michelle Ritt, is a longtime, dedicated teacher of special education who works long hours advocating for her students. She currently works with children who are hospitalized for long stretches of time. The reason for my nomination, however, is she is also one of the original Solidarity Singers, who fights for our First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly.

Tom Roach
North Putnam High School
Social Studies (US History) Teacher
Nominated by Sheri Roach

Tom has served North Putnam HS in so many capacities and has taught for so long–this is his 32nd year–that he has become a surrogate administrator. The school administrators seek his counsel on a variety of issues from scheduling to staff issues. (Prior to teaching at North Putnam, Tom taught at Zionsville High School after a year of substituting in all four Putnam County school corporations. When he graduated from college there was a recession and a few teaching positions to be elminated, so he coached at North Putnam and substitute taught every day, going to whatever school called first each morning.) Currently co-president of the teachers’ association, Tom has been president several times, served as the representative to the insurance trust, coached championship wrestling teams, and has taught–and developed–several courses.

A Life License holder, Tom has been Teacher of the Year four times and has received numerous accolades from students. Each year his classes complete interviews of their parents, grandparents, and community members; many of those interview reports have been submitted through the Lugar foundation to document the histories of WWII families. Tom also served on the Greencastle City Council for 16 years, in part because he wanted his students to see that teachers “Do” what they teach. He also served as a volunteer firefighter on the Greencastle Fire Dept for over 20 years. Tom has shown incredible commitment to his school and his students.

Joyce Robinson
Anna E. Barry Elementary School
Grade 2 Educator
Nominated by Robin Asselin

Joyce is an extremely hard-working, dedicated teacher. She spends long hours preparing her classroom, creating a warm and welcoming environment for her second grade students. She plans her lessons with her students in mind, differentiating instruction to meet their needs. She also takes part in the PTO as well as other various school-based committees. She is not one to boast or brag…she just gives her all every day!

Karen Robison
Three Creeks Elementary
Kindergarten teacher
Nominated by Rick Parente

Karen has taught for 30 years. She stays abreast of all the current trends and state standards. She provides a great foundation for our students to build on.

Janice Rogers-Jones
Hazelwood East Middle School
Assistant Principal
Nominated by Tiffany Fane

Ms. Rogers-Jones is a zealous educator who loves working with students, parents, teachers, and the community of Hazelwood East Middle School. She’s worked to develop programs to bridge the gap between home and school. In addition, she is one of very few administrators in the Hazelwood School District who are members of NEA.

Megan Routh
C.E. Budd Elementary School
Music Teacher
Nominated by Marty Ross

She is a true professional. She encourages her students to learn and grow. She knows her curriculum and supplements the program as needed. She is also a team player.

Dorsey Rowe
P.S. 50 Q
Gym Teacher
Nominated by Laurie Greenwald

Ms. Rowe has worked hard to not only get our students and staff moving but to get teachers to bring exercise into the classroom and to get our students more health conscious and she does this by seeking out applicable programs and materials on her own.

Sharon Ruggles
Ontario Elementary School
Intervention Specialist
Nominated by Ginger Packert

I’m proud have both worked with Sharon and to call her my friend.  She started teaching, over 20 years ago, as a high school agriculture teacher.  Later, she became an AgriServices teacher–teaching agriculture skills to Special Needs students. This experience drew her to become a full-time Special Needs teacher.  Working exclusively with students with behavior disorders, Sharon spent over 15 years in some of the most physically and mentally demanding environments.  Yet, she is dedicated to all her students, convinced they can grow.  Her goal is for her students to be mainstreamed into traditional classes, and eventually become productive once they graduate.

One example exemplifies Sharon.  She was teaching 6th graders, all with severe behavior issues.  One girl, who had been abused, was living with a foster family.  When frustrated, the student would frequently act out violently.  After a classroom incident, the student grabbed Sharon’s hand, tearing ligaments so that her thumb was permanently damaged.  Sharon filed charges–not to “punish” the girl, but to get her badly-needed, court-ordered counseling.  At the hearing, held in the summer when school was not in session, the student became scared.  She asked if Sharon would give her a hug.  Of course, she did.  Where else would the “victim” comfort the “accused”?? This is what a teacher does–care about the whole child.  Sharon is WIDELY respected and would be most worthy of your recognition!

Jennifer Sakers
Perry Hall Middle School
Mathematics Teacher
Nominated by Chris Sakers

Jennifer contributes much to her entire school environment from high quality instruction inside the classroom to working with students on an independent basis to maintaining communication with students who have gone onto the high school, college, and life settings to coaching the award-winning MATHCOUNTS team.

Nicole Sandine
Apollo School
Sixth Grade Teacher
Nominated by Hilary Liese

Nicole Sandine works hard every day to support her students and work with her teammates. She has been the P.T.A. President for 3 years and helps organize special events for the students. Nicole has 2 children under the age of 2 at home and is still able to give a full commitment to her students and school.

Terese Sarno
Ramstein Intermediate School
Kaiserslautern District Representative and 3rd Grade teacher
Nominated by Heidi Tobin

Terese Sarno goes above and beyond as both a teacher and as the FEA Kaiserslautern District Representative. Ms. Sarno helps all teachers to ensure quality programs in DoDDS. When I was excessed, Terese Sarno went way beyond the call of duty to assist me. Terese’s fortitude and perseverance paid off and I am very happy teaching in the Kaiserslautern District. Terese’s vision, exceptional ability to influence change, remarkable people-skills, ability to listen and not just talk, superior problem solving ability, hard work, and dedication to teachers makes her one of the best teachers and colleagues in DoDDS.

Diane Sawyer
Auburn Enlarged School District
High school math teacher
Nominatedby Mary Ann Mucedola

She is very dedicated and always goes the extra mile to get students to understand the skill. She has been very effective teaching mostly algebra to students that struggle with math.

Gerard Schrader
Central High School
Independent Study 9-12
Nominated by Lyn Schrader

Mr Schrader sees every student as an individual, with unique abilities and needs. He makes every effort to keep troubled students on track to graduate and succeed in life.

Julie Schultz
Denmark Elementary School
Fifth Grade Teacher
Nominated by Kathy Romsos

Julie has been inspiring students to love learning for many years. She spends her summers taking classes and workshops to improve her skills and serves on school committees. She is an expert at maintaining high standards while getting her students to love school. She writes plays for her students to perform each year. It is always one of the highlights of their year when parents come to watch their performance. No matter what is going on in her life, when she enters the classroom it is all about the kids. She is a true professional. I’ve taught with Julie for many years. She is an inspiration and the teacher I would want for my children.

Karen Seashore
Woodbury High School
Art Teacher
Nominated by Lauren Seashore

Karen Seashore has been teaching art to students for over 37 years. She has touched hundreds of thousands of hearts, and has taught them that everyone can be an artist. Her high school art students have went on to be graphic designers, sculptors, painters or continue to draw as a hobby. When Karen is in the classroom she teaches with passion, enthusiasm, knowledge and skill. As a talented artist herself, she uses her passion of art and passion of working with young students to help them gain the tools and skills needed to become a better artist. Karen’s enthusiasm for art doesn’t stop at the high school level. She has three younger daughters (who are grown ups now). When they were in elementary school there was not a designated art specialist. Karen took on that role when she could. She often went to elementary classrooms and taught art lessons all while teaching at WHS. She fought hard with other art teachers to have support for art in an elementary setting. In turn, District 833 now has art specialists in every elementary school. Karen Seashore is a great teacher and advocate for art. But it doesn’t stop there! She also has taken on the role of a musical theatre director, play director, and speech coach during her time teaching at WHS along with her husband Jon Seashore. Jon and Karen are well known among the community for their performances and connections with students. They have directed over 35 shows together. This summer marked the eighth year of StarPlayers Musical Theatre Camp in Oakdale, MN where Jon and Karen both run the camp for K-8th graders. Karen teaches art to young students as well as theatre while others teach dance and singing. Karen Seashore is well known among the Woodbury, MN community and even the surrounding cities! She is known for her leadership, positive attitude, dedication and kindness. She thinks of others before herself, and is always striving to improve students’ personal best.

Jason Seek
Collierville Middle School
Band Director
Nominated by Yolanda Dutton

Despite his battle with his illness, Mr. Seek is the first voice that everyone hears at the start of each school day. He has such enthusiasm making all the announcements of the day and always has a very interesting comment for the day. He even makes all the food on the daily menu sound delicious plus he picks some good songs to accompany his announcements.

Katelyn Serpe
Franklin High School
Nominated by Jennifer Jones

I brought Katelyn to our national junior classical league this summer and she simply amazed me with her ability to jump right into convention. She easily made close friends, she encouraged and led others and she tried anything and everything. She challenged herself, inspired others, and her tenacity and enthusiasm inspired me. I have had her for three years and her incredibly patient and flexible personality (not often seen in teenage girls) has always made her a pleasure to teach. She has helped many other students in the classroom. She’s a joy!

Patsy Shafchuk
Hudson High School
Retired recently after 34 years of dedication
Nominated by Patti Martin

She has helped the homeless, helps nuns in her church, helps anyone who has a problem, dedicated her life to kids at the school and EVERY ONE I run into that ever had her, LOVES her. She is one of the most amazing, kind hearted people I’ve ever met. She is always giving of herself to others. What a great example of an educator.

Martha Shelton
Eagleview Elementary
Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Jan Turley

Martha is an inspiration to both students and co-workers. She always maintains a calm, positive attitude in even the most difficult situations. She leads by example. We all love Martha!

Yvonne Sherwood
Sewanhaka High School
Earth Science Teacher
Nominated by Monica Nadasky

Yvonne is the epitome of a natural teacher. She teaches Earth Science and consistently over 15 years has had a 98-100% passing rate. She is an energetic teacher involving the whole class. Yvonne is always available for students before school (providing breakfast for her kids) or after school (armed with snacks to help them concentrate.) She is also the Green Club advisor and uses this opportunity to take her club of 25+ members to local parks and marshes and even the school grounds, to promote reducing recycling and reusing. Her club has participated in Operation Splash, I love my Parks and Coastal Cleanups. She connects with her students and they consistently respond to her and rise to the occasion. She is a Master Teacher.

Jennifer Skellett
Libby Elementary
Nominated by Avelina Apolinar

Mrs. Skellett is an inspiration and true leader for her peers. She quietly works at being a personal supporter and cheerleader for any teacher who wants to improve their craft. She has a wealth of knowledge and does not hesitate to share with other teachers. Watching Mrs. Skellett constantly reading and trying new things in her classroom and keeping herself abreast of all the changes education has going on makes me want to continue improving myself. I am proud to work with someone who is a positive role model and is always looking for positive ways to help the students as well as the people she works with.

Elizabeth Slone
Willard Elementary
Middle School Language Arts
Nominated by Diana Mastin

Beth goes far beyond the classroom. Since the first day she walked in to the building she has been involved in every aspect of the school community. If it has an impact on the students, then Mrs. Slone is going to be involved. That includes staying late for students, committees, or parents. Teaching is her calling and not her job!

Miyeca Smoot
Brown Elementary
Third Grade Teacher
Nominated by Angela Tucker-Holmes

A very outstanding teacher!! She believes that a child’s education is very important. Miyeca has the first hand on educating our students at that age when kids’ minds can be easily influenced. She guides them in the right way to used their mind and explore all possibilities. Mrs. Smoot is a wonderful teacher. She can teach my kids any day!!

Dan Snowberger
Durango School District 9-R
Nominated by Gretchen Wilson

Student and staff support are Dan’s passion. At convocation he outlined current data, made recommendations for improvement, and shared his vision of working together. Follow-through was not only refreshing but unheard of, as he met with staff, often individually, to open up new ways to deliver instruction. Visiting building sites twice a week, Dan’s practice is to walk with teachers, support staff, administrators, and students, inquiring about their learning, questioning their needs, and observing instruction and interactions. Weekly newsletters are electronically posted, including suggestions for student engagement.

Most great leaders can work on changing the mindset of a small constituency, but Dan has taken his actions well beyond the normal expectations of any superintendent. Dan Snowberger has created a vision that may be unique in any school district; every vested interest must be at the table–parents, students, community members, school board members, teachers, support staff, administrators, legislators…the list goes on. We build upon programs of collaboration between the district and unions to support students.

Additionally, the city is looking to expand partner programs that impact students, our local colleges are developing courses to enrich district students, student educator programs, and graduate courses to support educators, private schools are developing initiatives to collaborate with our public school programs, and most importantly, the entire community is working together to educate our students, one child at a time.

Khalifa Stanford
Miami Springs Middle School
Social Studies teacher, eighth grade
Nominated by Sakinah Lewis

Ms. Stanford has been an educator for the past sixteen years with Miami Dade County Public Schools. She has been a team leader, club advisor and nominated for Teacher of the Year. She was recently elected to the United Teachers of Dade Executive Board as Vice President At Large. She serves her community in many ways such as volunteering with religious organizations and collecting items for the Homeless Center. Ms. Stanford always motivates her students to do more by always entering them in various contests such as the History Bee Competitions. She is also currently completing her Doctorate Degree in the field of Education. Her motto is that one person can always make a difference to make the world a better place.

Chuck Steinbower
William K. Willis High School
Nominated by Chuck Steinbower

This Nominee works collaboratively with teachers to have special book club discussion groups in cooperation with the Delaware, Ohio Public Library. He has also brought in over 100 artist as well as career and author visits from local area artists and Young Adult artists, such as Sharon Draper, Coe Booth, Jack Gantos and Chris Crutcher. Chuck has developed several collaborative arrangements with various community agencies, such as the Wexner Center for the Arts in conjunction with openings at the Center and the Columbus Jewish Center on Holocaust studies. Mr. Steinbower has received 6 Grants through the State Library of Ohio and 2 NEA Foundation Grants covering a variety of topics. Mr. Steinbower has participated in the NEA Read Across America program for the past 6 years. He has also participated in NEH Landmarks Teacher Fellowship programs, NEH and ALA Picturing America workshop and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library fellowship, all of which were very competitive in nature for acceptance. Mr. Steinbower has worked tirelessly to bring literacy to his students at the William K. Willis High School at the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility in Delaware, Ohio. He has enabled several students to receive personal books of their own through the various collaborations and grants that he has received and started several youth to begin an adventure in reading and lifelong learning who have been incarcerated in Ohio’s juvenile correctional facilities.

Mary Stewart
Wyandotte High School
Nominated by Cheryl Wright

Mary Stewart is a champion for excellence in education! As principal of a large diverse high school in Kansas City, Kansas, she works tirelessly to impact students and staff with the characteristic of resilience. Let’s get the job done! Mrs. Stewart is a no no-nonsense yet caring person, as she routinely visits classrooms, meets with students, and advocates for the Wyandotte community. She is relentless in her efforts to cultivate a learning environment that maximizes the potential of her students and staff. When it comes to effective leadership, she is masterful in knowing that “Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.” ~ George M. Adam. It is an honor to nominate this extraordinary educator for Labor Day recognition.

Anne Stinson
Nottoway High School
Nominated by Linda Johnson

A veteran teacher who moved from assistant principal to principal of high school upon request of the faculty, Anne won the highest number of votes to be a current town council member in Crewe. She is an excellent educator and administrator with a huge heart for children.

Catherine Stoutenburg
Burger Developmental Center (For Students with Autism)
Teaching Assistant
Nominated by David Pavelka

At a time when her pay and benefits continue to be cut, Catherine has taken it upon herself to head up an anti bullying program for our school. She spends her own time working with a former student to plan and organize assemblies to teach the anti bullying message, provide students a safe forum to share stories, and use role play to practice what they’ve learned. Catherine’s selfless dedication has made a huge difference in the lives of our students. P.S. She also gives up her lunch period in the spring to coach our student softball team.

Debbee Straub
Fairview Junior High
Math and Science Educator
Nominated by Jennifer Narimatsu

Debbee works tirelessly to provide opportunities for her students and for her colleagues. Not only does Debbee teach a full school day, but she has been the advisor of a girl leadership club after school for 2 years, she is the girls cross country coach and a coach for the spring track season. Debbee hosted 3 family STEM nights last year that were a huge success. Debbee is also a yoga instructor and taught weekly yoga classes to the staff and started a yoga club for students as well. We also have a culturally responsive team leader which Debbee has done a fantastic job with the past 3 years. Debbee is well deserving of being honored for the work she puts into our school.

Chanda Strom
Gabrielino High School
Science Teacher
Nominated by Carol Schneider

Chanda is able to engage students of all abilities with humor, enthusiasm, and innovation. She is an advocate for all students and never waivers in her commitment to them and their ability to succeed.

Gera Summerford
President, Tennessee Education Association
Nominated by Paul Darden

Gera has been a classroom teacher, knowing what goes on in our schools, and now is in a position to represent all TN teachers, especially as standardized tests are being made too important as to the teachers, future and their pay. Gera has attended national as well as meetings across the state in her support of teachers.

Pete Teller
Leslie Middle School
Nominated by Cyndi Swaney

Pete is active in encouraging members and students to stand up for their rights. He organized free school viewings of movies to counter those in distribution that were not in support of public education. For these events, he recruited the Student Leadership group from his middle school to help. He is active in his local teachers’ association and at the state and federal levels. Although he is a new delegate, he has joined many committees, attended and organized rallies, recruited members to activist groups (myself, included), and already spoken out as an individual against things he believes have a negative impact on our students, like high stakes testing and large class size. On top of it all, Pete is a positive, kind, and compassionate person. He does all this with a smile and a helping hand. He deserves to be honored for his work as a school counselor reaching hundreds of students each year, and now as an active participant in ensuring their rights.

Connie Testorelli
Belleville High School
Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Susan Duda-Osborne

Connie tirelessly works to help students achieve their potential. She is innovative in trying any strategy that will help each student have success. I KNOW she is one of the best teachers in the world because she has taught my child! On Labor Day, I want to honor her dedication to her career!

Evelyn Thomas
Strong High School
Paraprofessional for ISS
Nominated by Connie Comeaux

Evelyn is an awesome school employee who is indispensable to her school district and to her high school. She runs the In-School Suspension program. She is competent, efficient, and organized. Her colleagues respect and honor her. She serves on school district committees, is president of her local Association, serves on the state Board of Directors, is the state ESP of the year, and is one of the NEA’s Leaders for Tomorrow this school year. I am her UniServ Director, and I can attest that she is a joy to work with and very much appreciated!

Steve Tribble
Hutchinson/Metzgar/Nicely Elementary Schools
Elementary Band Director
Nominated by Jaime West

Steve inspires people to speak up, become active, and stand up for themselves. He is somebody that our association really looks up to as a leader!

Kathy Valentie
Wapakoneta High School
High School Teacher
Nominated by Josh Sturgill

She’s an amazing teacher and really cares about her students.

William Venza
Owen J. Roberts High School
9th Grade Student
Nominated by Dulcie Rothermel and Krista Venza

Since Will was very young our family has been involved in community service and outreach programs. At the age of 5 he asked me why some people have more than others and I didn’t have a good answer for him so we decided that we were going to get involved in our community and give back to help those who were in need. This summer Will and his three brothers started an organization called Venza Brothers 4 Others and their first service project was to collect school supplies to ensure that all kids in our community could go back to school with everything they needed to be ready to learn. They collected supplies and backpacks for 93 children. Will and his brothers’ goals for their outreach program are to help those in need, bring attention to important causes, and to encourage other young people to get involved and give back to their communities.

Melva Vogler
Wallenpaupack Area High School
Recently Retired Educator
Nominated by Evelyn Cunningham

Mel Vogler is an inspiration to all unions. After 57-and-a-half years of teaching mathematics, Mel retired this spring. She served as our local union president and as the Northeast Region President of PSEA. She is well known and well respected all across the state of Pennsylvania when it comes to education and labor unions. She also served as chair of the PSERS Board of trustees as well as a past president of NCTR (National Council on Teacher Retirement).

Adam Volk
Turlock High School
Nominated by Greg Volk

Adam is adopted. His mother lived on the streets of Sacramento prostituting herself and using drugs every day of her pregnancy. She had NO prenatal care. One month before she was due she returned to Modesto, CA. She continued to use drugs and her water broke five days before she went into the hospital. He was born within 45 min. His birthmother left him at the hospital. Adam was born with crank, marijuana, cocaine and alcohol in his system. He was turned down by other families because of the drugs and I brought him home when he was two months old. The birthmother said the father died of an over dose. Just about the time her rights were to be terminated they found her in prison for drugs and prostitution. We had to take him into the prison to visit her and wait a month to bring her back to Modesto in cuffs and orange jump suit. Today Adam is a junior in high school. In elementary school, he got student of the month twice. In middle school he received an award for perfect attendance and a GPA award. In high school he has a 4.17 GPA, gotten advanced and proficient on all state tests (STAR) with two perfect 600 in science and biology. He has earned two academic medals. He was named “Student of the Month” last January for the quality of Fairness. His freshman year he earned an academic award for algebra for getting nothing less than an A on ALL his work and tests his entire year. He runs cross country in the fall and last year made it to sub-section and in the spring runs track and made it to championships. He was elected treasurer for the Interact club and belongs to Portuguese Club. He has qualified for the California Scholarship Association award for four semesters. It requires at least three As in academic subjects and at least one B. Last year he got straight As including in Honors Biology. Adam started out near death and rejected by many families and he is now successful beyond most students. He is ranked 37 out 551. Adam’s goals are to either go into video game design or computer engineering, but who knows what he can still accomplish.

Andrea Wade
Lawrence High School
Nominated by Terri Durgan

I was her teacher in fourth grade and had the opportunity to see Andrea grow into a capable, kind, energetic young woman. She overcame struggles through her own type of determination by focusing on her goals with the support of her family and teachers. She volunteers to help others with a smile on her face and a bright twinkle in her eye such as her work in Family Promise and operating the sound equipment at St. Margaret’s Church. She is involved in a variety of high school programs like Marching Band and theater as well. I believe she is a beacon for others to empower themselves and shine!

Rachel Walker
University of Hawaii at Manoa
College Senior
Nominated by Jenifer Evans

Rachel is often finding ways to give back to her community. She participates in school supply drives, children’s fairs and supports various endeavors through attendance or action all at the local level. Rachel spoke at a rally calling for better teacher contracts. I believe that her words played a huge part in the approval of a new contract. She has worked diligently to better her life and will soon be graduating with a B.Ed. in Elementary Education.

West Walker
Central Elementary School
Teacher, 5th Grade
Nominated by Jocelyn Hillyard

Mr. Walker has started, and worked many hundreds of hours on, our new Community Association. Our community has been on national news as “Ground Zero” in foreclosures. Walker has started “Handyman Ministry” to help fix up blighted homes, “Welcome Wagon” to greet new neighbors, “Pet Rescue” for the abandoned pets, and a tutoring club (our county has one of the lowest literacy rates in the nation). The website he made is at The site highlights the massive work he has done. The Mayor of Stockton is on board. This was all done as volunteer and on his own time, and he has spent money on many things such as Community Awards to recognize those who have also helped our community.

Michael Ward
Clintondale Community Schools
High School Social Studies
Nominated by Amy Ward

For over 20 years, my husband has worked with children who needed him the most. Fate must have brought him to the MISD years ago to work with some very challenging emotionally impaired students as a paraprofessional. After earning his degree and certificate, he went on to teach in the Detroit Public Schools and was recognized as a “most inspirational teacher” by his students. Currently, Clintondale High School is called his second home. Despite serving children who are impacted by the effects of poverty, most mornings find him arriving early to prepare for the day. He leverages any and all connections and resources in order to give his students a great education. Whether it is collecting used toner cartridges from the district to recycle and convert to Staples Reward Bucks, introducing students to elected officials in the area, or writing grants to fund student participation in a weekend leadership program called MyLead; his focus is to motivate students to be successful and reach their full potential.

You should see his room! It is inspiring just to walk in and see the colors, lamps, couch, and table. Add his optimistic approach and unique teaching philosophy and you have every ingredient to a successful educational experience. For 26 years, Mike has also fostered positive relationships with students as their football coach. Nearly every summer of his career has been spent in a school weight room as a volunteer for the summer conditioning program or driving athletes to passing scrimmages. There has never been funds available to pay for these services. Coach Ward has always viewed this effort as an investment in the same children that will call him “teacher” during the school year. His personal philosophy is called opportunity-based learning. Many hours and much creativity combine in order to offer all students an avenue to succeed. A combination of technology, literacy, content, curriculum, and creativity (TLC3) has given the classes he teaches a unique twist and maximize his efforts in order to serve all children effectively.

His passion and commitment to children oftentimes come at the expense of a vibrant social life and family time. Over the years we have come to accept this of our husband/father because it is a righteous cause. I admire his perseverance and positive demeanor. Students light up when they recognize him and talk to him at a school play or a basketball game. Even though it might be tough for these teens to express gratitude, they recognize his effort, time, and dedication with every smile, handshake, or hug! My husband has and continues to make a difference in the community he serves and I would like him to be recognized for his efforts!

Karen Watson
Mercer Area Middle/High School
English Department
Nominated by James Sankey

Before my retirement, I worked with Karen for more than 20 years. During that time, I saw first-hand a teacher who demanded the best, inspired students to demand the best from themselves, and made learning a hands-on experience. As a teacher of seventh grade writing, sophomore English, and AP senior English, Karen has prepared her students well, not only for the following year’s course, but for a lifetime of practical, useful tools that will serve people no matter what occupation they choose. Mercer is indeed fortunate to have a teacher of this quality on the staff.

Lori Watson
Westwood elementary
Assistant Principal
Nominated by Lisa Mathis

Lori is a person beyond measure. She has taught nearly 30 years in the Manchester City School system. She brightens the day for everyone she comes in contact with. Parents, teachers, and students seek her for advice in confidence and usually leave her office with a smile on their face. Not only is she admired at work, but she is admired in the community. She puts herself before others and somehow always shows up just when you need her. I have never heard a negative word said about her. She is an inspiration to so many in our community. We love Lori Poff Watson! She deserves to be recognized!

Anne Weir
WACO High School
Secondary English
Nominated by Bert Miller

Anne is a first class educator, both of her students, and of her colleagues as well. Anne is deeply involved in every aspect of the learning experience – a classroom teacher, our building rep, teaching college adult education classes, class sponsor, etc. On top of everything she does so well – Anne is a kind, thoughtful, caring person with a big heart.

Janet Welsh
Lafayette Elementary
Fifth Grade Teacher
Nominated by Alice Mosley

She inspires her students, regardless of background or challenges, to learn to the best of their ability, and she also inspires them to be the best people they can be.

Christa Weiss
School #1
Self-contained Learning Disabilities, Grade 3
Nominated by Maura Campbell

After approximately 20 years, Christa still treats each year as if it’s her first. She works tirelessly to help her students achieve to their maximum potential. She shares ideas and solutions with all of her colleagues and puts all of her self into being the best teacher she can be! Even though, I am older and have more experience, I look up to Christa and all she does!

Joanne Werner
Demarest Middle School
Grade 8 Science Teacher
Nominated by Regina Eftychiou

Having been a colleague of Joanne for several years, I noticed how hard she worked to make her students love and recognize the need for science in their lives. She created interesting and challenging ways to teach 8th graders concepts in Physics & Chemistry. In spite of having a young son at home to care for, she obviously spends many hours preparing for her classes and works very hard to reach each and every one of her students. Joanne deserves these accolades which she never expects.

Nancy Whalen
John F. Kennedy Middle School
Foreign Language Instructor
Nominated by Maura Hooper

Nancy works tirelessly for the students, staff, and community of Woburn, Massachusetts. She leads by example with grace, class, and enthusiasm, and has dedicated almost 40 years to teaching in various private and public sectors. She truly is an engaged leader. She has served the Woburn Teacher’s Association as Vice-President, President, and currently still serves as Past President on our Executive Board. We thank her for almost 20 years of union service, and I cannot image a better person for this award. She is the backbone of our school community, and volunteers in too many activities to even list. However, I will list a few: National Honor Society Advisor, Educator Evaluation Trainer, and WTA Union Officer. Please take Nancy into consideration for this award!

Bretski White
Cumberland Gap High School
Nominated by Nkoumitcha Tassa

Academically, Bret is endowed. He is intelligent and makes good use of his intelligence. He pays attention in class to master the objectives and make good use of them. He participates very well in class, asks questions and answers questions willingly. He is also helpful. He helps students who are in difficulty. He is very good in extracurricular activities. He is well organized, creative and very dynamic in our French Club. Thanks to him we did many interesting things and are still planning a lot more. In regards to his hard work in academics and in extracurricular activities he deserves to be recognized.

Betty Williams
Mora High School
State Certified Hearing Impaired Interpreter
Nominated by Darlene Kientop

This nominee has followed and inspired several students continually from elementary through high school grades. She not only interprets the academics, but their extra-curricular activities as well. This year, she will see her students graduate after being with them since Kindergarten. She joins them on the wrestling squad & football team (running the field as a 61 yr. old mentor). She loves her work as reflected in an event when a previous student played football in the state tournament. The press wanted to interview her, but she declined telling them her deaf student was the one to be interviewed.

Kathy Williams
Forrest Heights Middle School
Math Teacher
Nominated by William Hatten

I nominate Kathy Williams for her dedication to education and her determination to go far and beyond for the students.

Kay Williams
Cleveland High School
Special Education Teacher
Nominated by Nancy Caffee

Kay Williams believes in teaching by example. This summer she developed a program to work with under privileged teens showing them how to do community service. She taught them how to landscape and do minor repairs for people who could not afford to do it for themselves. Kay worked right along with the kids all summer. When she found out that the horticulture program at the Career Tech. center was cut, she found a way for one of her students to work in the outdoor classroom at the school. She has given up her prep time to help teach her student how to care for the plants in the outdoor classroom. She puts on her gloves and brings her tools and helps the school, community, and sets the example for others to follow. Kay is not afraid to do “what-ever it takes” to help her students succeed.

Brad Williamson
Pendleton Heights High School
Technology Education Teacher
Nominated by Martin Klipsch II

Brad is always willing to help his students. He is there as a teacher and as a friend for them. Not only does Brad still do an excellent job as a teacher, he continually updates his professional skills by keeping on top on the continuous change that technology brings into the classroom.

Lisa Wilson
Denton Middle School
Speech/Special Ed Chariperson
Nominated by Barbara Faircloth

Lisa is quick to help any teacher or student. She is always pleasant and easy going. She is a great LEA for the special education department at Denton.

Stephanie Wolkin
Retired Education Minnesota
Field Rep Retired
Nominated by Pam Winkler

Stephanie is a retired field representative for Education MN. She has always supported and worked for the rights of students and educators through her work. In addition to all she has given us professionally, Stephanie sits on the Board of Neighborhood House–an organization that helps our community with everything from food needs, to school supplies to tutors. She gives her time in my classroom as a reading mentor and friend and my first graders LOVE her!! Stephanie also gives her time and financial support to many other groups including a local children’s hospital. She is an inspiration to me–she is always giving, working tirelessly for others and brings the positive to each day! We are so grateful for her!!

Cathy Workemen
Bingermin Tasker Middle School
Reading/English Teacher
Nominated by Nya Williams

My nominee deserves to be recognized because she is a strong leader and she knows how to teach the class in a way that we can all understand.

Bruce Yates
General McLane High School
Vocal Music Teacher
Nominated by Carol Blount

Bruce has been able to integrate all groups of students into one group that is able to put on shows that are professional quality every time. He and his wife Trisha are able to take the music kids and athletes and everyone in between and turn out amazing dinner theater productions that sell out every single year. He has fostered and mentored several students who have successful performing careers.

Norm Yoast
Craig Middle School
8th grade science
Nominated by Brynna Vogt

Norm has educated middle school students in Colorado since 1989. He is known to treat his students with respect and fairness, and has inspired many to enter science related fields. He engages students in relevant real-world science whenever possible, and his students consistently perform above average on state tests. He is responsible for the River Watch program at Craig Middle School, which teaches students to be citizen scientists as they collect data on Colorado Rivers that is then utilized statewide. His students have embarked on an energy audit school wide that has led to the district lowering energy costs. He is a mentor to science teachers across the district and they are comfortable going to him not just because of his vast science knowledge, but his easy-going attitude and willingness to do anything to help out.

Betsy Zeifman
Mountlake Terrace High School
ELL Teacher
Nominated by Peter Breysse

Ms. Zeifman stands out with her commitment to her students. She knows them, cares for them, nurtures them and challenges them. Often they face exceptional obstacles, but she helps them to overcome them. She even runs an evening language program for parents, siblings and other family members. Betsy educates the whole village. I know if I have a student of hers that I can count on her to go beyond what is usually done to help me help the student. The only question Betsy asks is what is best for the student. Betsy Zeifman is an educator from head to toe.

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