Administrative Departments > Superintendent's Office > Communications > Celebration of Excellence > 2000-01 Recipients

Celebration of Excellence Award Recipients

3/14/01 - 3/21/01 - 3/28/01 - 4/11/01 - 4/25/01 - 5/9/01 - 5/23/01 - 6/13/01 - 6/20/01
2001-2002 Awards

Awards received March 14, 2001:

Janice Smith, Bryant Elementary, Reading Recovery/Title I Teacher

Nominated by Jeanne Snapp-Kitzmann

"Mrs. Smith has been and continues to be a guide, teacher, and facilitator for the staff at Bryant in bringing best practices for reading instruction. Mrs. Smith's priority is and has always been for those students who find learning to read a challenge. The strategies she teaches us are beneficial for all students."

Kevin McClain, Pittsfield Elementary, Head Custodian

Nominated by Rebecca Archer

"Mr. McClain keeps our school exceptionally clean, and is always there to lend a helping hand. He is very pleasant to work with and never complains about doing his job. He makes assemblies run smooth and always adds that little special touch to everything he does. He makes Pittsfield School a very pleasant place to work."

Jane E. Nixon, Pioneer High School, Teacher Consultant

Nominated by Angela Vietinghoff

"Jane Nixon gives 100% to teaching and helping her special education students. She's always smiling and upbeat about her teaching." The son of the parent who nominated Ms. Nixon was encouraged and supported by her. She described her as "one of the district's unsung heroes."

Sue Bright, Dicken Elementary, 4th Grade Teacher

Nominated by Susan Middlemas

"Sue Bright wrote the school's musical production called 'Peacemakers and Freedom Fighters.' Lynda Berg added some music to the script and it became the students' performance for parents in February to honor Dr. Martin Luther King. Ms. Bright always goes above and beyond to provide a meaningful experience for students. She is my inspiration!"

Awards received March 21, 2001:


Leslie Johnson, Second Grade Teacher, Thurston Elementary

Nomination submitted by Susan Sinta

"I'm a music teacher, and have appreciated over the past fifteen years Leslie's classes coming to me on time, prepared to learn. Her children, even at the first meeting, sat quietly, gave their attention, followed directions, volunteered, spoke loudly enough to be heard, and produced quality work. She is a bright, friendly and thoughtful lady -- the best of colleagues."

Almer Harris, Crew Chief, Balas I Buildings and Grounds

Nomination submitted by Debra Palmer

"Almer is always available to help whenever we need him. He is always cheerful and understanding. He is supportive and encouraging. He is just an all around kind person and a great person to work for."

Robert Lillie, Athletic Teacher, Tappan Middle School

Nomination submitted by Al Tessmer

"Rob Lillie is the consummate leader. Whatever he teaches he lives first. People know when there is agreement between a teacher's feet and mouth. He is an intense competitor, but the honesty that goes along with it is always tempered with a respect for the good of others. ... he has the greatest strength of all... gentleness, even in the moments of greatest truth. Liked by all. Rob has stood the true test of great leadership...time."

Awards received March 28, 2001:


Sara Andrew-Vaughn, Huron High School English Teacher

Nomination submitted by Jill Piker

"She cares about the students! She possesses great integrity as a teacher and an individual. She is often at school late in the evening, working with students on the Emery Staff. She is always up on current trends in education. She is respected by students, parents and staff. She is a co-sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance group at our school. I can count on her to follow up with a student who has had difficulty in/out of school. Her dedication to education and to HHS is extraordinary!"

Chris Todd, Dicken Elementary 5th Grade Teacher

Nomination submitted by Susan Middlemaas

"Mr. Todd and his students developed a Dicken web page which includes a biography of every teacher at Dicken. His students interviewed, then teams of students worked together to write the 'bios.' This gave them an authentic purpose for writing. He personalized each page. Chris has taken technology and student involvement to a higher level. He has helped build a spirit of community with parents, staff and students!"

Margaret Smith, Slauson Middle School Counselor

Nomination submitted by Jan Ogle

"Margaret has dedicated her professional life to the betterment of each student she has come in contact with. Her involvement with the struggles of her students goes above and behond the call of duty. She has been a tireless supporter and facilitator of our B.S.U. and the main impetus for our incredible NAPPID celebrations."

John Boshoven, Community High School Counselor

Nomination submitted by Michael Grace

"John has reorganized the entire counseling office, its procedures, and persona to an amazing extent, student efficiency regarding what scholarships, programs and locations are now clear and easy to access. John's expertise has made a remarkable difference in the country's reference and recognition of Community High School as well as himself. College and university recruiters have praised his work, attention and congenial character. Definitely the best addition to CHS in many years!"

Dawn Abbeg, Transportation - Bus Driver

Nomination submitted by Julie Geyer

"Dawn has safely transported my son to and from school for the past 5 years. In addition, she is prompt, patient and polite. Who could ask for more?"

Awards received April 11, 2001:


Linda Kurzynski, Secretary at Logan Elementary

Nomination submitted by Mary Cullen Guttman

"As secretary, Linda is often the first individual seen by staff, teachers, students, parents and new visitors. Therefore, she plays a significant role in representing Logan School. Linda greets everyone with a smile no matter how hectic the day may be going. She serves as an information clearinghouse for the entire office. She schedules appointments, provides information to callers, and maintains student records. She is the person who assists our children when they're not feeling well, when they're worried about how to get home, when they've splashed mud on their jeans, or when they've lost an important book or misplaced their lunch. She's also the one to assist us parents when we're stressed -- which is about all the time! Her calm demeanor, pleasant personality, and professional presence is a great asset to our school. I sincerely believe that Linda is one of the reasons Logan has developed such an outstanding reputation for quality education and care. Linda is kind, thoughtful, and most deserving of the highest recognition for a job consistently and continually well done!"

Jon Strite, Slauson Middle School, P.E. Teacher, Student Council Advisor and I.M. Director

Nomination submitted by Barb Newell

"I have taught with Jon for 14 years and his energy astounds me! He started 6th grade fun days, class overnights, coordinates a variety of student leadership directed activities (drives, dances, etc) leads one of, if not the most participated in Intramural Sports programs in the city (before school 7:30 -- 8:00 a.m.), always sets up for swim meets and all track meets for the city (all M.S.) Plus, he's just plain thoughtful. I have not included all he does, but he's 110% for students and staff!"

Pat Jackunas, Burns Park Elementary Art Teacher

Nomination submitted by Cynthia Page-Bogen

"Pat is an art teacher who has her student Grades K-5 producing beautiful and meaningful artwork of the highest quality. The students are informed of historical or contextual background, which enriches their understanding of what they are producing. All students in her art class are engaged in their production and proud of their final work. Pat interfaces with classroom and other "specials" teachers and supports their curricula with corollary art projects. She is a superb teacher."

Barbara Northrop, Logan Elementary Kindergarten Teacher

Nomination submitted by Ben Dahlmann

"Mrs. Northrop is a true professional. She possesses the ability to teach children discipline and responsibility and at the same time, allow her students to enjoy school and learning. Examples are her lessons on Mexico where the children learned about Mexican culture and had the opportunity to make and break a pinata, and her 100-day party which helped the children learn to count to 100. Barbara has dedicated nearly 30 years to teaching. The Ann Arbor Public Schools are lucky to have her as an employee."

Awards received April 25, 2001:


Shelley Bruder, Administrator on Special Assignment/Balas I

Nomination submitted by Katie Parker.

"Over the past two years, Shelley Bruder has worked to assist teachers and administrators in understanding and effectively utilizing the Teacher Evaluation process to increase student achievement. She is an outstanding teacher, principal and facilitator-a friend to teachers and administrators, who consistently places students at the center of all she does."

Jill Everett, 4th grade, Burns Park Elementary

Nomination submitted by Cynthia Page-Bogen

"As the vocal music teacher at Burns Park Elementary, I see all classes of the building. I see that Jill Everett always has a happy, focused class, which works well and comfortably as a group. This is a pattern, which repeats annually, which is a sure sign that some fine teaching is going on. Attached is a song that Jill's class wrote as a group in music class as an exercise on how to compose a song. Clearly, Jill is appreciated and enjoyed by her students."

Ed Schwartz, teacher, Lawton Elementary

Nomination submitted by Kerry Krause

"Ed Schwartz has a commitment to teaching and learning that is unparalleled. He frequently gives up lunch to help struggling students as well as his planning time to help teachers with technology questions. In his spare time, he volunteers for assessment committees, tech committees and SIT."

Awards received May 9, 2001:


Ron Collins, Principal, Thurston

Nomination submitted by Thurston Staff

"Ron Collins goes above and beyond to support students, parents and staff. Teachers particularly appreciate his commitment to them. Ron is a bright, resourceful administrator who demonstrates a high level of integrity, empathy, common sense and effort. Ron is quick to help whenever he sees a need! His problem-solving skills are exceptional. Ron's upbeat attitude and sense of humor add greatly to the positive atmosphere at Thurston."

Elaine Bennett, Teacher, Northside

Nomination submitted by Jan Ikens

"Elaine Bennett has been making the difference in the lives of struggling readers for over twenty years. Proven time and again to be ahead of the times in her teaching philosophies and strategies, Elaine goes the extra mile for kids. She is truly exceptional, and always puts children first."

Signa Joy Gardette, Crossing Guard, Angell

Nomination submitted by Lee Ann Dickinson-Kelley

"The students at Angell Elementary know her as Joy. Not only is that her given name, but it is clearly what she has brought to her job as a crossing guard at the corner of Geddes and Oxford since 1992. Parents and commuters know her as the woman who consistently offers a friendly wave and broad smile to each passerby. Our children are safer for her conscientious supervision and execution of her job responsibilities. Although Joy was recently transferred to Platt Rd. near Scarlett School, our days continue to be brighter for her friendly and caring manner. Thank you, Joy."

Tom Goetz, Head of Grounds, Clague

Nomination submitted by Michelle Machiele

"In support of Clague Middle School's Year 2000 Beautification Project, Mr. Goetz and the AAPS Grounds Department has demonstrated teamwork, the motivation to go above and beyond their duties, and exemplary interpersonal skills. The Grounds team supported the 29 Beautification Student Leaders in their effort to landscape the school grounds. Furthermore, the feat of remodeling the school courtyard shall be praised for years to come. Their efforts had a positive impact on the entire school community."

Awards received May 23, 2001:


    Judy Franklin, Executive Secretary, Balas I

      Nomination submitted by Karen Mimikos

      "Judy has been a tremendous help to me since I started in my new position mid-February. Her knowledge, sense of humor, and professionalism has helped me to make a smooth transition to the Board of Education office. Her willingness to help me learn the ropes and the support she has given me are appreciated more than she realizes. Judy is a wonderful co-worker and I'm glad to be working side by side with her."

    Maggie Hansma, Secretary, Scarlett

      Nomination submitted by Sally Eder

      "It is always a pleasant experience dealing with Maggie. She is very professional, with a "caring" touch. She asks the necessary questions to get all needed information - a very clear communicator! She gives her full attention to whomever she is working with, in a friendly way. Excellence shines through. I'm glad to know that such a friendly adult is working in my child's school (and my child agrees with me on this!)."

    Claire Dahl, Teacher Pioneer

      Nomination submitted by Diane Kalata

      "She is one wonderful teacher who has constantly bent over backwards to help all the students at Pioneer and not just those in her class. She has often single-handedly run the Key Club (a huge time commitment) and has been handling the store gift certificates to raise money each year for the Senior All Night Party. I have never seen anything but a smile on her face. As a teacher, she is demanding but so very accessible! What a woman!"

    Natalie Durkee, Teacher, Angell

      Nomination submitted by Holly Owens

      "Natalie personifies the teacher who goes above and beyond. She regularly communicates with parents - a weekly letter home, e-mails to parents, personal phone calls when warranted. As coach of Academy Math Games at Angell, she has encouraged all children - not just the math wizards - to learn and play complex math-based games. I've seen kids in her class go from hating math to loving it! My daughter is one. I'm so very thankful for and grateful to teachers like Natalie Durkee. Thank you!"

Awards received June 13, 2001:


    James Strouss, Teacher, Slauson

      Nomination submitted by Monica and Lauren DeGraffenreid

      "Mr. Strouss is an inspiring teacher with real enthusiasm for his profession. His enthusiasm includes costumes and artifacts from time periods of history in question, and his teaching style completely abolishes the dry, dusty atmosphere of a typical history course. Mr. Strouss brings history alive for us in creative and humorous ways. He cares about his students' education and inspires me to do my personal best."

    Jeff Kass, Teacher, Pioneer High School

      Nomination submitted by Susan Buchan

      "Jeff Kass' dedication and energy led to Ann Arbor hosting the National Youth Poetry Slam for high-schoolers. This event brought together young poets from all over the nation - the most diverse crowd I have seen in our schools. Jeff's work with young poets at The Neutral Zone deserves recognition. Thank you, Jeff!"

    Pat Frey, Teacher, Stone School

      Nomination submitted by Meira Miller

      "Pat teachers a journalism class and the high school students put out a newspaper of high interest and very well written. The photographs bring the stories to life. I teach ESL, and many of my students have been interviewed and highlighted in the paper. In March, the coverage of the school-wide Multi-Cultural Festival was superb. The paper also serves to make our students and staff feel connected to the high school program. The high school students who interview the ESL students are patient, polite, and genuinely friendly. And Pat gets it all done with little fuss and with a smile!"

    Kathy Moran, Teacher, Clague

      Nomination submitted by Claire Weiner (with support from several other parents as well).

      "Kathy Moran is a teacher of remarkable compassion and dedication. It is clear to each and every one of her students and their parents that she cares for and about each student who has the good fortune to be in her classroom. She is very tuned in to the psychological and social aspects of middle-schoolers and does an extraordinary job of communicating with parents. She truly understands what makes middle-schoolers "tick" and is therefore very successful as a teacher and mentor."

Awards received June 20, 2001:


    Donald Cody, Teacher, Logan

      Nomination submitted by Jason Loren and Patricia Boyd

      "Mr. Cody is one of the first teachers I've had that makes learning fun. Plus he's a very funny person. Don't get me wrong, he works us hard! But he loves every one of us and we know it. We're all special to him!! I want him to know he's special too! Go Mr. Cody!"

    Pamela Lowe

      Nomination submitted by Diane McCowan

      "Pam has been teaching children since 1970. We have been fortunate to have my 2 children tutored in math with her for 1 year and have seen incredible improvement in their learning ability and attitudes. Besides that, I noticed Pam has demonstrated a genuine commitment to helping other kids by working seemingly endless hours during the week, weeknights, Saturdays and Sundays. This month she will be going in for knee surgery and again later in the year. Pam's concern was still to make sure the kids had enough "work" to keep or target while she was incapacitated. It is her continuing commitment to our children and others I would like to applaud."

    John Mitchell

      Nomination submitted by Jane Thompson

      "I am so pleased John is the driver on my daughter's bus route. He is firm, fair and I believe, fun with the children. He is very strict on rules from sitting down whilst the bus is in motion, to training the students how and when to cross the road. He is always on time, well almost always - only very bad weather slows his route. I believe him to be a cautious driver, which I trust with his passengers completely. He always has a smile and wave to the parents whether at the bus stop or at school."

    Lynn Wolff and Marcie Keat

      Nomination submitted by Michelle Machiele

      "Ms. Wolff and Ms. Keat sought out a way to include the Unified Studies students in the Clague Middle School Year 2000 Beautification Project. Many parents participated, funding was sought out and received, and students spent time in hands-on experiences to beautify their school. These two teachers and their staff and students have been role models for others in the community to 'step forward' and make a difference!' Their garden will be enjoyed for years to come."