The Daviess County Public Schools district has announced 2016 Great Expectations Teachers of the Year. Each DCPS school nominated and selected a Teacher of the Year. These individuals (listed below) are now eligible for the DCPS Great Expectations Teaching Excellence Awards at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Those winners will be announced during the DCPS Opening Day program at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
DCPS Teachers of the Year were recognized for their unique teaching qualities and innovative practices that support quality teaching and learning in their classrooms. These outstanding educators model and support “Great Expectations” for all students, every day!
The following narratives are excerpted from nomination essays submitted by students, parents and/or professional peers. For more information, contact DCPS Public Information Officer Lora Wimsatt at 270-852-7000 or [email protected].
Audubon Elementary School
Heather Nally makes learning come to life in her classroom at Audubon Elementary School. She encourages open communication and activity-based, hands-on learning. Students are engaged, excited and motivated to learn. Mrs. Nally’s ability to connect with her students and her talent at teaching simple concepts and advanced topics are truly superior. She has great expectations for each of her students. Every student is taught how to be a leader and reach those expectations. She spends countless hours preparing her lessons, contacting families and participating in a variety of after-school activities that benefit students. She researches new teaching techniques and is very discerning when deciding which techniques are best for her students. She is willing to accept new challenges to impart instruction and create an excellent classroom environment. Heather Nally is a great example to the faculty and staff at Audubon.
Burns Elementary School
Jane Clark was nominated by an individual who was a former student in Mrs. Clark’s classroom whose own child was later also Mrs. Clark’s student, and who is now a professional colleague who was inspired to enter the teaching profession because of the impact Mrs. Clark had on her life. The nomination essay describes how Mrs. Clark connects on a personal level with her students in a way that stays with them for the rest of their lives. She challenges students in a way that makes them want to learn and to expect more of themselves. Regardless of the student’s personal circumstances, Mrs. Clark challenges students at Burns Elementary School to succeed. She pushes students to achieve their full potential and will not allow the student to accept any less of themselves. She makes certain that students see in themselves what she sees in them. She inspires others to want to be the best they can be – and then even better. When she lights the fire, students are captivated to find in themselves what she has already discovered. She is a ‘safe place’ for her students – a place they know they will be welcomed, loved and cherished forever.
Country Heights Elementary School
Amanda Davis is a passionate teacher who is driven, focused and determined to be the best teacher she can be. She is willing to try new and challenging things in her classroom. She is open to trying new ideas, strategies and resources to help students learn, which means she is also always learning. Mrs. Davis has implemented self-paced learning in her math class. She assesses her students to see where they are and then plans accordingly to meet their needs and takes them to the next level. She sets high expectations for her students and does not accept anything less than the best. Her students are strong and confident learners because they know she has worked hard to make learning happen for them. Mrs. Davis teaches her students about goal-setting and taking steps to achieve their goals. She empowers students in her classroom and builds confidence and leadership skills through The Leader In Me. Mrs. Davis works diligently to serve the students of Country Heights Elementary School.
Deer Park Elementary School
Beth Anderson was nominated as an outstanding teacher at Deer Park Elementary School by parents of a student who was struggling and whom they worried might “fall through the cracks.” Ms. Anderson’s classroom environment is one of support and encouragement. She uses small group learning, which allows students to receive individualized assistance. When she noticed that students needed help transitioning from primary to intermediate, she created a smaller classroom setting so they could receive the attention needed to reach learning goals, feel successful on their own and be ready to move to the next grade level. She helped students set goals for reading and when all of her students reached their goals, took them and their families to a KWC football game, where they were recognized at halftime. As parents, we are so grateful for Beth Anderson. Our son has made tremendous progress this year. He went from being barely able to read and hating school to being able to read on grade level and loving school.
East View Elementary School
Pam Croft has demonstrated her passion for teaching in many ways, including through instruction, her compassion for students and always being a true professional. She works to challenge her students at East View Elementary School to think at a high level and engages them in their learning. She often invites a student to “teach” the class how they arrived at an answer, ensuring that the students feel the empowerment of understanding the concept and sharing their knowledge with others. Students grow and learn every day in her classroom. Mrs. Croft is well prepared and has engaging lessons. Students are often working with hands-on manipulatives or models to help with their mathematical understanding. She wants all students to grow and she works to make sure that happens in her classroom. She collaborates with other staff members to help students be successful. The insights and experiences she shares with others is invaluable. She is passionate about teaching, loves learning new strategies and thrives on working with struggling students as she is able to bring out the best in them.
Highland Elementary School
Sharon Warren has a unique ability to teach science. Her engagement in this subject area has allowed Highland Elementary School to continue expanding on scientific principles through discovery and real-world problems. Mrs. Warren has learned Next Generation Science Standards at a high level of practice, allowing children to discover on their own how engineering principles become part of their learning, rather than simply showing the model. She is talented at facilitating her classroom as a lab-type atmosphere that gives students the freedom to expand their knowledge far beyond simple understanding to a deep appreciation for the topic. In her classroom, trial and error are rewarded and discussed, fostering a mindset of growth. Failure is not an option; it is a way of life for a scientist. Students are actively engaged in her “minds on, hands on” classroom, discussing and exploring scenarios. Not only does Mrs. Warren reach out to students throughout the school, she also reaches out to teachers as a leader and has conducted professional learning opportunities and mentored teachers. She does it all with a servant’s heart.
Meadow Lands Elementary School
Teresa Howard uses her uniquely creative side to make learning come alive in her classroom. Her novel units leave kids with memories that they continue to talk about years later. She allows students to explore their own creativity and imitate the characters, settings and happenings in their stories. Students are active participants in the learning process. Students in Ms. Howard’s classroom at Meadow Lands Elementary School feel comfortable taking risks and exploring their thoughts and ideas with others. Kids know it’s cool to be themselves in her classroom. Students have a “can do” attitude and can’t wait for the next project to begin. She is the type of person who makes you want to take chances and have fun doing it! Not only is she an outstanding reading teacher, but she also shines as an outstanding colleague. There is never a time that Ms. Howard is not part of every school function, committee or decision-making process. Others rely on her to give honest feedback in the best interests of everyone involved.
Sorgho Elementary School
Sharon Warren knows what is best for her students and pushes them to excel and always work to the best of their abilities. She creates opportunities for students and challenges them with rigorous expectations based on their ability levels. Her lessons are engaging and tap into different learning styles, which is very important for meeting the diverse needs of her students. The differing ability levels within her classroom provide immense challenges in meeting all students where they are and getting them to the next level. However, the confidence she builds in her students allows them all to achieve “Great Expectations.” Her love for her students and desire to see them succeed are evident; she teaches her students the way she would want her own children to be taught. Mrs. Warren is a hard worker and expects nothing less from her students at Sorgho Elementary School. She provides amazing opportunities for students to help others and realize the importance of giving ourselves to make this world a better place for everyone.
Southern Oaks Elementary School
Deana Anderson was nominated by a student at Southern Oaks Elementary School who recognizes this teacher’s love for her students. This child’s nomination essay says “Every student in her class will go home every day and say ‘I learned something.’ She does everything a teacher is supposed to do and she is one of the best teachers in the world.” Mrs. Anderson has a gift for finding each child’s individual strengths. Her positive and encouraging personality is evident in her classroom as her students demonstrate a love for learning. Mrs. Anderson is actively involved in school events, using these opportunities to build strong relationships with parents. Through these activities, she becomes involved in the lives of students from all grade levels at SOES and always finds ways to support and encourage students throughout the school.
Tamarack Elementary School
Courtney Martin takes the time to find out exactly what each student needs to progress. She is responsive to students’ questions and gives meaningful and thoughtful answers. She makes any questions asked by students into teachable moments so that all benefit from delving more deeply into the subject matter. Students feel comfortable, important and successful in Mrs. Martin’s classroom at Tamarack Elementary School. Her work with special needs students is extraordinary. She is able to reach troubled or struggling students with simple, yet profound, motherly instincts and empathy, coupled with complete professionalism. She can also challenge and accelerate her brightest students. She remains current with the latest instructional strategies and technologies. She teaches her students to strive for excellence, to love reading and to respect each other; and she teaches her peers to give our best for our students, to wear a smile, to have faith and to remember that academic struggles can often produce new academic growth.
West Louisville Elementary School
Lori Clements goes above and beyond normal expectations for the classroom teacher to ensure that her students are not only having fun, but are also growing to their fullest potential. From the moment students cross her threshold, they are having fun and are actively involved in learning. Mrs. Clements is continuously striving to learn more about teaching in order to provide the best possible educational experience. She is constantly researching and trying out new ideas, integrating her new learning with her analysis of students’ conference notes, assessment results and other data in order to more highly differentiate instruction during her language arts and math workshops. The West Louisville Elementary School staff feels fortunate to have Mrs. Clements as one of their own. She is a wonderful team member and is always open to answering questions and give advice on new teaching strategies. She shares countless resources and ideas and builds positive and enduring relationships with staff, students and their families. In all ways, Lori Clements embodies “Excellence in Teaching.”
Whitesville Elementary School
Destiny Clark is known for her heartwarming smile and contagious laugh – both qualities that greet her students at the door each day, no matter the challenges. She engages her students with a high level of energy and creativity. While maintaining a sense of routine and stability for her classroom is essential, she also knows spontaneity keeps the momentum moving forward and responds quickly to shifts in her students’ thinking and learning. Her imagination for “what school can be” rather than “what it has always been” drives Mrs. Clark to be the light in her students’ lives. She allows her students at Whitesville Elementary School to work in an environment that suits their individual needs. Her classroom embraces student-centered learning rather than teacher-centered. She has a charisma and passion for teaching that are unparalleled. Mrs. Clark loves her students as if they were her own. She is an exceptional individual who contributes so much of her time and self to caring for and educating our future leaders.
Burns Middle School
Jill Pate is incredibly student-focused and differentiates her lessons to meet the needs of her students. She is very involved in the lives of students outside of the classroom by attending their extracurricular activities and just getting to know the students personally. She is constantly searching for ways to engage students and excite them about what they are learning. She is always looking at the individual needs of the students and uses her classroom data to make sure each student is learning what they are supposed to be learning. Mrs. Pate requires her students to apply what they are learning in real-life situations. She models great expectations in everything she does as a teacher. She plans and prepares for every second of every period to make sure her students are prepared to move on to high school after they finish her class at Burns Middle School. Mrs. Pate is a phenomenal teacher and her students love her. They love to be in her class learning because they are active participants in the process. Mrs. Pate’s students understand they have a voice and that they are safe to speak their minds in a respectful and mature way.
College View Middle School
Mark Church has demonstrated outstanding character, work ethic, relationship-building skills and teaching competency. He is a team player, whether in the classroom, on the football field or at extracurricular functions at College View Middle School. He serves as an exemplary model for all. He truly “gets” kids, obviously loves people and sincerely enjoys and takes pride in what he does. Mr. Church always has a smile on his face and is ever ready to do whatever is needed to benefit the whole. His ability to build relationships, with students and co-workers alike, is second to none. His character is a positive influence on the climate at CVMS and he is also a competent and conscientious professional. His knowledge of the special education profession and its ever-changing demands makes him an invaluable resource in both resource and collaborative settings. His ability to motivate students makes him shine as a champion for students who might otherwise struggle. Mr. Church is the kind of co-worker, role model, teacher and friend that everyone should aspire to be.
Daviess County Middle School
Olga Payne is dedicated to the pursuit of scientific inquiry in her classroom at Daviess County Middle School, where she is a student of education best practice. The questioning and discussion techniques used in her classroom deepen the levels of understanding for her students. Ms. Payne engages students in the content with carefully planned experiments, applications to the real world, inquiry-based labs and standards mastery. She uses multiple levels of assessment throughout her classroom to allow students to show what they’ve learned while allowing her to ascertain areas that require re-teaching. Her students are encouraged to explore, discover, make mistakes and try again in their pursuit of scientific excellence. Among her colleagues, she has been a catalyst for change, focusing on Next Generation Science Standards rigor, analyzing literacy within the curriculum and building rapport within the teaching team.
Apollo High School
Emily Harpenau is efficient, effective and engaging and brings energy, enthusiasm and optimism into her classroom every day. She works to modify assignments and differentiate in a way that allows students to succeed. She meets all students at their own individual levels. Students know that working with Ms. Harpenau may be challenging, but they also recognize the benefits of their academic growth under her guidance. She is at her best when she is working with a student who wants to give up. She has a way of inspiring and motivating students that is truly incredible to witness. Students respond to her; they like her. As a result, she is able to push them to achieve at their highest levels and met the great expectations she has for each and every one of them. She goes above and beyond in the classroom and around Apollo High School and challenges her students to live up to their full potential. She also pushes her coworkers to be better teachers. As a result of working with Ms. Harpenau, her colleagues are better educators as well.
Daviess County High School
Therese Payne makes learning happen in her classroom at Daviess County High School every day by making the often intangible concepts of the English/Language Arts curriculum relevant through the use of real-world application and examples. Through this practice, Ms. Payne fosters authentic learning opportunities for each of her students. She establishes a culture within her classroom where knowledge is held to the highest importance. She never teaches to the test; instead, she surpasses the expectations of students and parents alike by igniting a passion for knowledge within each student, while teaching the mandated standards. She accomplishes this feat by differentiating each lesson in a manner that appeals to students of all ability levels. She protects the integrity of the teaching profession and is a model educator. She has accepted the unspoken role of a teacher leader within her department and is the individual whom other teachers seek out for advice when planning curriculum for their own classrooms.