Administrative Support Employee of the Year, Tacquin “T” Cribbs:
Why does T deserve to be the Administrative Support Employee of the Year? T’s easygoing and positive attitude goes a long way toward brightening the day of everyone she meets. She works long hours but almost always has something nice to say to everyone she sees, and makes a point of making others feel appreciated and welcomed. T is dedicated to providing assistance to anyone who comes into the ESC, and to that end she has taken language classes and is currently learning some French with David, our French interpreter. Her nominator writes, “She is the first person that people meet when coming into our building, and I don’t think anyone else could bring her level of helpfulness, understanding, and friendliness to that position.”
Custodian of the Year, Larry Rockett:
Why does Larry Rockett deserve to be Custodian of the Year? Mr. Rockett knows the students and is always willing to help out. The students respect him and look up to him. His nominator writes, “My 4-year-old and 2-year-old have seen and talked to him over the summer and school events and for about a year called him “The Rocket.” They are upset if he isn’t at school. Some of my 4th and 5th graders think he would be a great teacher and are excited to say hi to him in the hallways.” Mr. Rocket is just really nice to everyone – even while cleaning bathrooms and gross messes. Mr. Rocket is a positive presence at the Dr. Walter Cunningham School for Excellence. He makes desks and chairs the correct height, finds desks for classrooms, cleans messes, says “Hi” to everyone, unlocks the building for us on some weekends, and helps in so many ways to keep Cunningham looking great!
Food Service Employee of the Year, Brenda Minard: Why does Brenda deserve this honor? She received the most nominations this year of any Waterloo Schools employee, SIX! Here are some of the numerous nice comments shared about her: I have worked with her for a while now and I have never worked with someone so kind, respectful, or hardworking. She really cares for everyone and is a very nice person. Brenda is a very dedicated worker who gets perfect attendance awards, even after working at UPS all night. Brenda comes straight to Hoover for her 2nd job. She always walks in with a smile and a “hello everybody”. Brenda is willing to do anything that is asked of her. She always comes in with a smile and has a good attitude. She is a team player and a joy to work with. Brenda is one very hard-working woman. She is amazing with students and always addresses them in a kind tone with a smile on her face. She really cares about her colleagues and the students. Brenda always gives 110 %. Her pans are scrubbed so clean, nothing slides on or off of them. I’ve never experienced such an ecstatic worker before, she’s consistently happy and helpful and always does her job so perfectly that even the greasiest of pans don’t slip and slide after she finishes her job. If anyone deserves this award it would be her, even though she’s “behind the scenes” in the kitchen she never fails to be dependable, adaptable, and friendly or funny. I find myself constantly looking at the door waiting for her to arrive.
Elementary Teacher of the Year, Amy McGovern:
Why does Amy deserve to be Teacher of the Year? Amy is described as someone who has the biggest heart, which overflows daily with love for students and staff. She always brings a fresh perspective to the table, making sure ALL students are able to be included, involved and challenged. Her nominator write, “Her ideas are transforming the climate of our school, by encouraging us to go from “Me to We.” Amy’s energy is contagious. She advocates, supports and “fights” for every student, regardless of the amount of interactions she has had with them. Amy was the mastermind behind Lou Henry’s first Kindness Day. She not only applied for the Project Jack grant, but also sought other donations to give back to our community. 630 acts of kindness were done that day, and so many benefited. EVERY student was able to participate in this day; which was awesome. She has also brought great ideas for Leader in Me, to ensure every student has a leadership job. Kindness and inclusion are so very close to Amy’s heart; it is apparent in her teaching and life. Congratulations to Amy McGovern, Teacher of the Year!
Para Educator of the Year, Rocshelle Polk:
Rocshelle has been with Waterloo Schools for over 20 years. She supports and cheers students as they meet and surpass goals. She is a daily reminder that each child, no matter how difficult they might be, deserves the best that we have to offer. One of her nominators writes, “Rocshelle is a beacon of light when times are tough and things become overwhelming, as it sometimes can be in education…dealing with the daily chaos that some of our students live in, the life issues these students have no choice over… She reminds us that despite all of these outside influences we can make a difference.” Another nominator writes, “Rocshelle knows the curriculum so well that she is able to assist the teachers with ideas of how to modify things to ensure students are succeeding. Rochelle knows how to calm students down if they are upset. If adults are having a bad day, Rochelle will come around and cheer them up. She is just the best!” One of her former students said, “She told me I could do things that no one else thought I could do and I love her for that.” Congratulations, Rocshelle Polk!
Teacher of the Year, Justin Decker:
Why does Justin Decker deserve to be an employee of the year? One nominator writes, “He has turned around the atmosphere in athletics at East High. His dedication to students and the strength and conditioning team is amazing and incomparable. He started in 2015 during a three-year losing streak but chose to stick by those kids to get them better prepared.” Justin attends each football game and was able to see those freshmen get their very first win as seniors. His drive and dedication are amazing! He still offers advice to young men that have graduated from East but return to lift and get help from their “gym dad” as they call him. A student who nominated Justin writes, “He acts as a gym dad to those students that need a man’s advice. He is a friend but makes them work hard to reach their final goals.” Congratulations to Justin Decker, Teacher of the Year!
Secretary of the Year, Julie Danker:
Why is Julie Danker Waterloo Schools Secretary of the Year? Julie’s nominator writes, “We couldn’t ask for a better person than Julie to be the first one that visitors meet when they come through the doors of Kingsley. Her warm and friendly demeanor is very welcoming. Julie makes everyone’s job easier and she is always willing to help. She is knowledgeable about what goes on in the school and if she doesn’t know something, she will find the answer. She is extremely patient with both kids and adults, even when times get busy. We are very fortunate to have Julie at Kingsley.” Congratulations, Julie!
High School Teacher of the Year, Bruce Benter: This staff person has been described by the nominator as “the best teacher I have ever seen.” Everything this educator does is for the benefit of the students. When working with students, he is patient and takes all the time they need in order for them to understand the problem. He goes above and beyond every day and is never too busy to help. Even the toughest of our behavior students enjoy working with him because he is so patient. His nominator went on to write, “He is the most amazing person. He is not a person who does his job to be recognized. He truly loves what he does. I am so proud to call him co-worker and friend.” This teacher has worked in other buildings in our district, but truly found his niche when he came to Expo. One student had this to say about him, “If it hadn’t been for his patience and him believing in me I never would have graduated.”
K-8 Teacher of the Year, Rachel Harmon: This staff person is described as awesome! As one of our students’ biggest cheerleaders, this award winner motivates them to go above and beyond in not only their learning, but as a member of our community. This person works long hours to ensure her lessons are engaging and fun for ALL learners. She knows things about her students: their strengths and weaknesses; what they like or dislike; their social situations, because she cares about them as people. Her zest and love of teaching shine through our building. She is a very valued member of our team.
Administrative Support Employee of the Year, Alma Garcia: This award winner has multiple nominations. Described as welcoming and caring, this person has a constant willingness to put the needs of families first. She also goes above and beyond to help them in her spare time. When a family needs support, staff members know they can call on her because she is always positive and pro-active no matter the situation. With unruffled calmness and good humor, she supports the mission of the entire school. She improves scheduling efficiency to make communication possible. She advocates for all our kids as a teacher, tutor, mom and social worker. One nominator writes, “I’ve literally seen her responding to two teachers at the same time, holding a cell phone to her ear with one hand and helping a crying kindergartner into a winter coat with the other so that the child could get to the bus on time.” We appreciate her passion and love for our families every day!
Para-Educator of the Year, Brandon Ross: This award winner received the most nominations of any employee this year in the entire district. This person is described as invaluable and easy to work with. This award winner truly cares about everyone. He works with the most challenging students, yet is always calm and de-escalates situations with ease. With his help and tireless efforts, the behavior referral rates have fallen to historic lows for Hoover and the school district. This is directly connected to his proactive work with our at-risk student populations. He is the first at the door to greet students, the first to proactively find students who need a friendly reminder and redirect. He will take walks with students, shoot hoops, call parents and hold students after school as needed. He truly is a servant leader who is always doing what is best for kids!
Campus Safety Employee of the Year, Darrell Moore: This staff member does his work without complaint. It is a tough job, but he makes it better because he builds relationships with students. He always approaches the job with a positive attitude and is always prepared to step in and help without worrying about whether it is part of his job assignment. The positive relationships allow him to move students to where they need to be without it turning into a huge argument or complaints that can escalate to bigger problems. We appreciate his efforts at East!
Secretary of the Year, Marquita Moore: This person is always a bright, happy face that you see first thing in the morning. Described as a rock star during a difficult year at Lou Henry, this award winner received multiple nominations for this honor. She inspires students with songs, finds time to make coffee for others and cleans up even when she didn’t make the mess. She greets students every morning with a smile, a hello, and a, “Glad you’re here!” She goes above and beyond to work with everyone and make everything better at Lou Henry. She is a very valuable member of our team and a very special person!
Food Service Employee of the Year, Kim Rehlander: This award winner is an essential part of our Poyner staff and school. She works hard to ensure things are organized and the staff is ready to go each and every day! We are Poyner Proud of her and the impact she has on students being leaders in the lunch room.
Secretary of the Year: Debra Tibbals! This person is described as poised, calm, helpful and exactly the face we need to see in our craziest moments. We are lucky to have this person at Bunger! This person holds the answers to our questions, the solutions to our problems and the support we need in our most stressful moments. This staff member knows the district inside and out and has helped guide other staff members through situations with ease and grace. The award winner goes above and beyond by hearing our worries, reassuring us that funding can be found when necessary and coming up with creative solutions for even the toughest problems. She keeps us all organized and is one of the keys to our building’s success.
Para-Educator of the Year: Kristia Rigdon! This staff member is called a rock star employee who goes above and beyond every day. With a smile and a positive voice, this person works very hard to chunk the lessons into smaller more manageable pieces for the students. Her kind and gentle mannerisms, positive personality, strong work ethic and love of children are a joy to witness. Think of the nicest, most positive bubbly person you know and you will be thinking of her. She is truly a gift to our school and we are so lucky to have her!
Food Service Employee of the Year: Connie Abben! This person is described by one nominator as, “the most-beloved employee that we have at West High School.” The students adore this award recipient and appreciate her greatly because of her great acts of kindness. She goes above and beyond in helping students and staff. She brings students birthday cakes and is constantly giving treats out. She attends their open houses and has even sent flowers for funerals. She is the most caring individual we may have in the entire school district!
Family Support Worker of the Year: Adriane Carlson! This winner is described as an outstanding person who truly cares about the students. Not someone who just shows up to work, but goes above and beyond daily duties to help ensure that we have student success in our classrooms. So often people who do the most work go unnoticed; it is time this award recipient gets recognized for all the outstanding things she has done and continues to do. This person is truly an advocate for our students and works tirelessly to keep them safe and thriving!
Custodian of the Year: Alija Nadarevic! This staff person is called an OWNER, not a renter! Taking pride in the school, this award winner embraces all students but especially those who struggle to fit in. By sharing gifts and talents, this recipient has volunteered unpaid time to work with students and pushes Orange staff to think creatively and embrace diversity (not just in terms of gender and race, but unique gifts and talents of each individual). He is living the 7 habits and letting his light shine!
Teacher of the Year: Lawrence Boney! This staff person has extremely high expectations for Kingsley students. Believing in every student and their ability to be a contributing member of our community, this award recipient exposes young people to many exciting topics to engage students in their work. This staff person prepares students not only academically, but in life skills as well and believes the true reward of being a teacher is to see your students later in life as successful adults.
Administrative Support Employee of the Year: Al Yu! In my opinion, Al is the most helpful person in the Waterloo Community School District. You can always count on him for help with whatever technology problem or question. Al addresses the issue with a professional, cheerful and respectful manner. He never makes anyone feel beneath him for asking a question. He is so knowledgeable and keeps up on all the current technology. A coworker is going back to school to become a teacher and needed to buy a computer, not knowing where to start. Al helped her out with a cheerful attitude, letting her know all her price options.
Custodian of the Year: Tom Clark! Tom Clark does everything he can to keep East in the best condition possible. Whenever a staff member needs something, Tom is usually the one who takes care of it. He never complains or acts like going above and beyond to help someone is a hassle. From running up last-minute orders from the loading dock to running down to the basement to get students desks, he is always there to help. Dedicated and caring are words used to describe him. He has a strong connection to East and the students that is evident in the quality and commitment of his work.
Food Service Department Employee of the Year: Janet Bessman! Janet is described as someone who goes above and beyond to make sure our students see a smiling face at lunch. She monitors the lunch room and takes notice of any child not eating, then helps find a solution. She has such attention to detail that she once discovered a family who normally had money in their lunch account was struggling to pay it. When she heard difficult circumstances were behind the situation, she navigated the process for them to apply for reduced lunch and eased their burden in the process.
Administrative Support Employee of the Year: Deb Stewart! Deb never makes you feel like you are interrupting her. She stops what she is doing to help anyone who asks with their insurance needs—and does so in a cheerful and sincere way. She is frequently cited in building climate surveys as a pleasant person to work with. Retiring this year after spending her entire career with Waterloo Schools, Deb can reflect on her self-less service to others that has impacted so many lives positively.
Teacher/Counselor/Family Support Worker of the Year: Kathy Vogel! Kathy is retiring after several years as a third grade teacher for Waterloo Schools. She has been an amazing role model for so many beginning and veteran teachers. By building relationships with her students, she creates a safe learning environment where every child knows their focus is education. She works long, hard hours to make sure her lessons are motivating and engaging for her students. Just watching her teach shows you how much respect her students have for her. By setting high expectation for those around her, she inspires greatness!
Para-Educator of the Year: La’Shundra Archie! Called the most reliable para there can be, she goes above and beyond for the children and lets them know she believes in them. Her ability to connect with some of the more challenging students is based on caring, love and respect. She rarely misses work and will do whatever is needed to run the classroom. A great source of information about her students, she makes valuable observations about their learning and offers wonderful ideas to support them. What an asset to our kids, classroom and team!
Secretary of the Year: Sue Denniston! Congratulations to Sue Denniston! The Lincoln Elementary secretary has been named Secretary of the Year for 2015. Sue goes above and beyond for the staff, students and families at Lincoln. This year she has been dealing with the return of her breast cancer, but in between treatments she makes every effort to be at work so she can support her Lincoln family. From helping diffuse situations with students to addressing parent concerns, Sue can be counted on to handle whatever comes her way from the front office. She inspires so many with her positive attitude, described as contagious to all around her.