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District 833 shines light on star employees

School District 833 Education All-Stars include, from left Chris Dease, Ann Haertl, Sue McKeown, Sandy Nelson, Jason Schwartz, Sue Winkler, Richard Stephens and Kari Tennis. Submitted photo

The annual South Washington County School District Employee Celebration was held Monday, May 11 at the Prom Center, Oakdale. The banquet honors retiring employees, employees celebrating 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40-year service anniversaries and selected "Education All-Stars."

Education All Stars are nominated by their peers, with final selection by a subcommittee of CAPE, "Creating A Positive Environment." This year, eight employees from across the district were recipients of the honor. The following information was received from the district.

• Chris Dease, art teacher at Woodbury High School, is a "dynamite teacher who always puts students first and doesn't say 'No.' She works with students before and after school, and still finds time to assist staff members. She knows so much about computers that she has become the resident expert at Woodbury High. You can count on Chris. She is honest, dependable, and a terrific teacher." She is a gifted, multi-talented individual that WHS is fortunate to have on staff and is considered by some as "the backbone of the staff."

• Ann Haertl, Community Education youth enrichment and K+ coordinator, is inspiring. She does quality work and "has a willingness to help others that is unparalleled." The numerous Community Education events (especially involving youth) are successful in large part to Ann's efforts. "She is creative with resources that put an extra spark into the programming she coordinates. She is a wonderful mentor and teacher for our youth." Ann is a true All-Star who is committed to making learning come alive - each and every time and for each and every person.

• Sue McKeown, Community Education youth coordinator, is dedicated to bringing excellent programs to the youth in our secondary schools. It is a hard group to reach, but "Sue has a knack for getting them involved even more. She devotes herself to bringing them programs that they want. She meets with them to come up with new ideas and entices them to volunteer right along with her." She comes to work each day with a "roll up your sleeves can do attitude. She exhibits a quiet confidence that is contagious." She is more than creative ... she is artful. She has created and enhanced countless initiatives.

• Sandy Nelson, music teacher at Newport Elementary, has high expectations for her students, but also for herself. Her students are "extremely excited to participate in music because she does a wonderful job making the learning fun." She works regularly with her grade level Professional Learning Community and looks for ways with all grade levels to incorporate the curriculum into what she is doing in music. She believes her band and choir students are ambassadors of the school district and has them perform and volunteer in the community. Sandy is always flexible and professional. Whenever there is a conflict in scheduling, she always tries to create a win-win situation for all involved.

• Jason Schwartz, social studies teacher and coach at Park High School, is "determined to make sure students leave Park High School with a quality education that will help them succeed." His students realize the importance of pride, responsibility and accountability. Jason teaches the Human Relations course at Park. He encourages students to go out and make a difference. Many student initiated activities at Park are the result of students taking his class. "He is a teacher leader truly dedicated to building a better working climate for staff and a better classroom environment for students. Jason shares the belief that we can meet the needs of all students if we dare to believe that we can and also work toward making it possible."

• Richard Stephens, custodian at the District Service Center, has a can do attitude that is very refreshing. His willingness to lend a helping hand is just another example in the pride he takes in his work and surroundings. He demonstrates that he truly cares about the people at work and looks for ways to better everyone's day. He adds his personal touch to the things he does for people - and many times, you can't find him to thank him for what he has done. Since beginning at the DSC, Richard has gone above and beyond with high expectations for the quality of his work - the building looks great, and the DSC employees appreciate all of the extra effort.

• Kari Tennis, seventh grade teacher at Oltman Junior High, is a natural teacher leader and has been a wonderful participant on Team Discovery, Oltman's seventh grade house. She is an excellent team player and leader at Oltman. She is energetic and enthusiastic about her curriculum and believes there is not just one way to teach social studies, but many. She is passionate about middle schools and is an advocate for students. Every year she changes her lessons to be more creative than the year before. The changes are always positive and engage her students in different ways. She is not afraid to make changes to improve teaching. Kari's strength is not just adapting or aligning the curriculum, but doing what is best for children.

• Sue Winkler, Newport Elementary special education paraprofessional, has the wonderful ability to get the most out of each student. She has the skills to build rapport with students who at times can be academically and behaviorally challenging. She is seen as a leader by other paras in the building as they come to her for ideas on how to best educate a student. She also goes out of her way to do "extra" things for Newport, including building connections with a local business and bringing them in as an educational resource. She is present at community and school events outside of school hours. Sue demonstrates a positive attitude each day with a smile and hello for everyone.