Daviess County Public Schools announced recipients of the third annual Great Expectations Teacher of the Year, Customer Service and Office Professional Awards during the district’s Opening Day ceremony at the Sportscenter today.
During the spring, each site selected a school-level Teacher of the Year. These winners received an engraved crystal bowl, $200 for classroom use and a designated parking place for one year. Honorees were evaluated by representatives of the DCPS Office of Teaching and Learning on the basis of classroom observations and nomination materials, and one overall winner was selected for each of three levels – elementary, middle and high school. These winners were awarded a $1,000 purchase order for classroom use and will be nominated by the district as candidates for Kentucky Teacher of the Year honors.
The 2015 DCPS Great Expectations Elementary Teacher of the Year is Donna Howard, a preschool teacher at Whitesville Elementary School. Howard’s nomination recognized her creativity in keeping learning fresh and exciting. She is dedicated to making sure her preschoolers are ready for kindergarten. “She knows each one of her students’ needs, learning styles and obstacles in their lives,” said her nominator, who also noted that “Donna goes above and beyond in everything she does – and everything she does is based on making it possible for children to learn, grow and succeed.”
Howard develops a theme for each year and works endless hours creating manipulatives for her students to use in the classroom and to take home. She never stops looking for better teaching strategies for her class. She has embraced The Leader In Me initiative at her school, and children in her classroom as young as 3 years old know and understand the Seven Habits.
Howard makes building relationships a top priority even before the first day of school by making home visits and contacting every student. She is keenly aware of the importance of a strong, positive bridge between school and home, and invites parents into her classroom to volunteer and encourages meaningful parent involvement in everything she does. She works with the family to make sure they are a team, doing everything possible for the child to succeed. She communicates almost daily with her parents, keeping them informed about what students are learning in her class.
Her nominator also said, “As a member of the Whitesville community, Donna knows the families and they know her! She volunteers at all school events and encourages her preschoolers and families to attend as well, nurturing a sense of belonging.”
The level of instruction in her classroom is truly amazing. Howard’s students believe they can achieve as over and over they say, “I think I can, I think I can – and I will!” When Common Core was introduced, Howard dedicated herself to finding the best ways to transition her curriculum. “She set the example by being proactive and positive,” said her nominator. “Donna brings real learning to life and makes it fun for her students. She is a leader in her classroom, at Whitesville Elementary School, and in our district.”
The 2015 DCPS Great Expectations Middle School Teacher of the Year is Jessica Morris, a science teacher at Burns Middle School who continuously challenges herself to improve classroom instruction by using a variety of instructional activities with a focus on hands-on learning labs. She meets and plans with other science teachers at her school, in the district and across the state as she strives toward her goal of providing the very best possible instruction to help students learn and really understand science concepts.
Morris is recognized for thoroughly preparing and planning for her classroom lessons, exploring strategies to make learning purposeful and relevant to her students. She uses her assessment data to guide instructional decisions throughout the year and is completely focused on making sure all of her students are learning.
She works with students before and after school, providing additional support and assistance on any learning targets. She helps students make connections between what they already know and what they are learning, as well as what they are going to be learning.
Her nominator noted that Morris further develops positive relationships with students by attending after-school activities with her own children and family and by and supporting school teams and clubs as a mentor. She even runs with the cross country and track teams, even though she is not the coach for either team.
Morris also cultivates positive relationships with her colleagues, stepping up to take on leadership roles at Burns Middle School, such as leading a seventh-grade Professional Learning Community; and she volunteered to participate in the Kid-Friendly Communities of Practice, which is focused on student engagement.
“Jessica Morris makes the most of every second of every class period to guide, instruct and support her students,” her nominator said. “Her dedication to being the best is exemplified by her constant planning, because she knows as she is preparing lessons, she is really preparing students to succeed.”
The 2015 DCPS Great Expectations High School Teacher of the Year is Beverly Payne, a special education teacher at Daviess County High School.
Bev Payne approaches each day with a high level of professionalism and a “can do” attitude that greatly benefits her students, who often need someone who offers patience, empathy and a caring heart. Payne is always positive and enthusiastic as she brings humor, energy and her unique personality to each class.
As a co-teacher in three classrooms, Payne willingly adapts to each teacher’s style and the classroom culture. She is an expert at finding ways to meet student needs, responding to difficult behaviors, barriers to learning, individual learning styles, and emotional or academic challenges. She is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that every student experiences success in preparing for the future.
She spends many hours outside the regular school day assisting students who are behind or need re-teaching or time to make up missed work. “She never gives up, demonstrating a tireless work ethic and a dedication to completing professional responsibilities, including hours that she spends writing IEPs or meeting with parents,” her nominator said.
Payne is a key member of the Daviess County High School staffulty, and her positive contributions are felt through the School Climate Committee that nurtures a positive spirit among faculty and staff. She is willing to take leadership roles on various committees, most notably as a driving force for recycling at DCHS, once again giving her students an example of community service and the understanding that one person really can make a difference in the world.
She is always prepared in the classroom with mastery of content, and is able to contribute immediately to planning and presentation. As she works with students in a direct, hands-on manner, she is in tune with their needs and is able to cue and nurture them as needed to help them experience success.
“Bev is highly respected among her peers for her expertise and commitment to students,” said her nominator. “She genuinely cares for her students and colleagues and demonstrates a servant’s heart as she shares smiles, a word of encouragement and a helping hand as needed. As she moves into her 30th year of teaching, she continues to demonstrate enthusiasm and the drive to best the best she can be, to help her students be the best they can be.”
Candidates for Customer Service and Office Professional Awards were submitted to a district-level committee last spring and were evaluated on the basis of nomination materials. Winners will receive a $1,000 purchase order for professional use; designated parking place for one year; and will represent the district as nominees for statewide honors sponsored by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.
The 2015 DCPS Great Expectations Customer Service Award was presented today to Kenny Kelley, a member of the DCPS Transportation Department. Kelley will be nominated by the district for the KASA “Fred” Award.
Kelley received more than one nomination for this award, including one from a staff member who is also the parent of a 3-year-old preschooler who rode his bus last year who provided a unique insight about the value of Kelley’s Customer Service. As the DCPS district prepares for the first day of school tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 12), we are mindful that many little ones will be getting on a bus for the first time. We appreciate how much it means to both children and parents when the first face they see representing Daviess County Public Schools has a big smile and a word of welcome and encouragement – on the first day, and every day.
Both literally and figuratively, Kelley “goes the extra mile” to support kids. On his time off, he attends sporting events of students, greeting them once again with that great smile, the high-five, and the words every child loves to hear: “I am proud of you!” He leads his little friends into the school every morning, helps them take off their backpacks and prepare for breakfast. He is the grandfather that many children do not have.
Kids know Mr. Kelley cares. He lets them know they matter, they are important to him, and they can achieve great things in the classroom and in life, which is what the DCPS mission of “Great Expectations” is all about. Kelley’s greatest gift to people is the value he puts on relationships. He has a genuine, heartfelt love for people and it shows in everything he says and does.
Caring runs in the family for Kenny Kelley. His wife Ruth is a bus monitor for special needs children, and together, they met a student named Joseph who quickly found his place in their heart. For the past seven years, Joseph has spent nearly every weekend with the Kelleys as they go to church and enjoy a favorite burger at McDonald’s. On several occasions, Kelley has said that if he knew his last days on earth, he would want to spend those days with Joseph.
As a special surprise, Joseph joined Kenny Kelley on the stage as the 2015 Great Expectations Customer Service Award was presented to a man who make a difference in the world through service to others.
Linetta Hester was named DCPS Great Expectations Office Professional and will be nominated by the district for the KASA Wanda Luttrell Office Professional Award.
Hester has a unique role in the DCPS district. As the operator and only staff member of the district Copy Center, Hester directly serves about 1,800 employees and more than 11,500 students in grades K through 12 – and the families of those students.
She prints, copies, collates and binds enrollment cards, student agendas, programs and schedules for athletic teams and bands, end-of-year memory books, letters, newsletters and literally hundreds of other documents providing important communications to keep staff, students and families informed.
Her responsibilities require an incredible level of organization and time-management skills in order to meet deadlines and ensure on-time delivery of materials.
“Her workload at the beginning and end of the school year are especially overwhelming, but Linetta is always, always pleasant and professional to those requesting her services,” said her nominator. “She takes the time to listen so she knows exactly what her customer wants.”
The nomination continued: “There are many qualities about Linetta to be admired and appreciated, but one in particular that is worthy of mention is her commitment to quality. She has an exceptional attention to detail and will not send out a finished product that does not meet her standard of excellence. She takes whatever extra steps are necessary to ensure that every product that leaves her office represents our schools with the highest level of quality.”
Hester’s contributions to DCPS also allow the district to provide quality materials at a price that is significantly less than the cost of outsourcing these services.
On a daily basis, Hester demonstrates an outstanding work ethic, dependability, consistency and dedication. As an Outstanding Office Professional, she makes our district a better organization by providing important services that make DCPS a great place to work and a great place for kids.
These awards represent the continued commitment of the DCPS district and its staff – certified and support – regarding student achievement. Superintendent Owens Saylor said, “I am so proud of these outstanding individuals, who are setting a powerful example for the students they serve through their positive attitudes, hard work and commitment to excellence.”