Administrative Departments > Superintendent's Office > Communications > Celebration of Excellence > 2002-03 Recipients


2002-03 Recipients


Awards received June 11, 2003:

Hayes Dabney, Teacher, Wines

Nominated by:  Diane Schimpke, Co-worker

Hayes Dabney demonstrates all of the personal and professional characteristics one might expect to find in a master teacher.  Mr. Dabney carefully chooses and articulates worthwhile purposes for classroom activities, as evidenced by the qualitiy of the assignments his students complete in the school's computer lab.  He continually challenges his students to discover and grow through the writng process, while maintaining high structural standards and expectations.  Mr. Dabney knows his students extremely well, attending to the diversity of intelligence, culture, and experience they bring to the classroom.  Utilizing this knowledge, he continually enacts lessons that build upon and make visible authentic student inquiry and student thinking.  In building classroom community, Mr. Dabney demonstrates extraordinary skill.  He promotes a climiate in which learning is valued and ongoing, and in which all students are able to share in and contribute to the social and intellectual environment.  It is with the highest professional regard that I nominate Mr. Dabney for this most prestigious honor.

Sharon Smith, Head Custodian, Mitchell Elementary

Nomination submitted by Mitchell Staff and Students

"The Children and Staff of Mitchell Elementary School would like to nominate Sharon Smith for the Celebration of Excellence Award. Mrs. Smith's kindness and abiding commitment towards our students have endeared everyone to her. Sharon does an exceptional job maintaining our building and grounds. But it is her dedication to our students and the sheer delight she shows towards each child that is really impressive. Mrs. Smith has a radiant sparkle and her warmth permeates our building. Lunch hour is a particularly good time to see Sharon spread her magic. Helping each child locate their lunch buddy, drying a tear or finding the perfect accessories for their hot dog, Mrs. Smith is there. Mrs. Smith has a contagious goodwill spirit which she has shared with our learning community. Mrs. Smith is a beacon of good humor and a true professional. We are inspired by her!"

Awards received May 28, 2003:

Marcia Dresch, Teacher, Clague

Nominated by Darcy Knoll and Clague Staff

"Marcia Dresch is an excellent role model for both students and adults at Clague Middle School.  She has taught Health and Physical Education for many years. Her classes are always exciting and informative and Marcia has always had an excellent rapport with students and co-workers.  Marcia is also creative, tireless, enthusiastic and always willing to volunteer. Marcia spends many hours after school to help students succeed.  Besides her teaching responsibilities, Marcia is also Clague's Intramural Dirctor, supervises before school basketball, manages Clague's Fall Fun Feastival, is a PTSO staff representative, has mentored new teachers, and is a member of Clague's Building Advisory Team, Clague's Crisis Team as well as other committees. These are just a portion of all of the activities that she has been involved with at Clague throughout the years."

Karen Davis, Secretary, Ann Arbor Open @ Mack

Nomination submitted by Ann Arbor Open Faculty

"In her position as office manager at Ann Arbor Open School, Karen Davis is responsible for many of the typical office tasks that arise at any school. She answers the phone, makes copies, coordinates attendance and signs in visitors. She administers first aid and calls home when a child is ill. She manages purchasing for the building. She edits and produces a weekly - not monthly - newsletter of professional quality. She mediates conflicts between students on those many occasions when she is in the office alone.

In addition, Karen is in charge of the odd things that come with working in a magnet school. She single-handedly coordinates applications, orientations, and classroom visitations for prospective students. She amasses incredible amounts of paperwork without losing a thing. She works late most days and makes herself available on weekends and from home to get things done. But Karen is more than a hard worker. She not only does all of this, but she does it with a smile. Parents and prospective parents who call Ann Arbor Open receive friendly, timely and accurate information. She expresses genuine concern for the health of children whose parents are calling them in sick. She treats sick and injured children with the TLC a parent would give their own child. Karen's level of knowledge and expertise is amazing. She has memorized virtually every phone number at Balas. She knows who to call in any sort of emergency. She keeps the principal and staff on their toes, making sure that everything gets done accurately and on time. The staff sometimes says that it is Karen who really runs the building, and we are only half joking.

Finally, Karen is a friend to staff, parents and children alike. She makes coming to work, coming to school or dropping off your child a pleasure. Children come to the office to visit her rather than go to recess. They bring her gifts and tell her their news. Teachers share their troubles with her, and she listens. Parents share their concerns, and she allays them. Any building would be happy to have Karen. To us she is absolutely indispensable. We are delighted to nominate her for the Celebration of Excellence Award."

Awards received May 14, 2003:

Michael Smith, Computer Teacher, Eberwhite Elementary School

Nomination submitted by Mark and Rebecca Randolph

"In the area of Innovation, Mr. Smith has reinvigorated the computer lab. From his first day when a bird flew through his head via his ears on the computer screen to just yesterday when the kids were taking their own pictures with the digital camera he has had kids enthralled with computer technology. He is amazing."

In addition, Eberwhite Principal Debi Wagner offers these comments:

"Mike is a gifted, creative and innovative teacher. He is always finding new ways to integrate and use technology effectively with students. He not only knows technology, he knows what is important educationally and how to integerate it into student learning. One of his projects this year involves putting digital cameras into the hands of elementary students and helpng them discover the world around them. Students take pictures of everyday objects and events important to them and compose their writing projects on the computer. Once students know how to use the equipment and software they can begin to use it to express their learning in new ways. He has helped Eberwhite students work with video streaming and movie making.
Mike is also gifted at sharing his learning. Whenever students or teachers express an interest in learning some new technology or need help fitting the technoklogyi into their lesons, Mike is right there to help whether it's word processing or animation. He even donated his time to teach Debi Wagner, the principal how to create a promotional video for her building using equipment and software available in the Eberwhite Media Center. The Ann Arbor Public School system is very fortunate to have Michael Smith!"

Awards received April 30, 2003:

Rick Dekeon, Physical Education Teacher, Northside Elementary School

Nomination submitted by Elena Flores

"When viewing the educator/student in a customer service/business type manner, I see Rick Dekeon as someone who cares about his precious commodity - children. He has developed a friendly and trusting rapport with kids, and takes the job of promoting the importance of 'life-long' physical strength and good health seriously. Rick is interested in each child developing their personal best whether it is Northside students monitoring their own running or walking with a pedometer, instrucing how to properly catch a ball or volunteering after school as an assistant soccer coach or ice skating with the kids at Veterans Ice Rink on a week night. He is loved by his students because he is friendly, responsive and authentically interested in every girl and boy. My family is grateful that he is a teacher at Northside School."

Awards received March 26, 2003:

Joyce P. Vivirski, Foreign Language Teacher, Clague Middle School

Nomination submitted by Ron Logan

"Clague Middle School is fortunate to have such a dedicated professional as Joyce Vivirski.

Joyce works hard to provide a variety of activities to keep her students actively involved in learning. Her students not only learn the language, but they learn the culture of the countries through a variety of activities which include food, dance, music and videos. Joyce's current endeavors included a trip to Chicago for her students to get personal experiences of the Spanish language culture.

On top of her duties as an instructor, Joyce puts in many hours overseeing a clean-air initiative at Clague Middle School to provide a healthy physical atmosphere for the students and staff. Joyce also maintains the "Sunshine Fund," which provides cards, flowers, and memorials for staff members during illnesses, personal celebrations, or losses. Joyce also makes sure that a birthday celebration is held each month for staff at Clague.

Joyce is truly a model of excellence at Clague, not only for the students, but for the staff."

Robin C. Mendenhall, Art Teacher, Pittsfield Elementary School

Nomination submitted by Norma McCuiston

"Robin Mendenhall began working with the partnership between the District's Art Department and the Arts Enrichment Committee of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in 1991. Her initial involvement was to select art from her students at Pittsfield for display at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Over the past ten years, Robin has gradually become the person from the Ann Arbor Public Schools who keeps this partnership alive. She now collects students' art from several teachers in the district, arranges for the pieces to be mounted and hangs the art herself, at the hospital. She does this three times each school year on her time as a volunteer.

As a result of Robin's efforts, Ann Arbor Public Schools student art brightens the halls at St. Joseph Hospital each year. Robin does this from year to year with a smile, and no fanfare because of her desire to showcase the artistic talents of our students and teachers. Most recently, Robin has undertaken the task of displaying Pittsfield Elementary students' art for their partner, Washtenaw United Way, at their offices.

I would like to recognize Robin for her commitment to share student art with the community."

Awards received February 12, 2003:

Noel Winkler, Media Specialist, Forsythe Middle School

Nomination submitted by Dan Ezekiel

"I would like to nominate Noel Winkler for a Celebration of Excellence award. She is the Media Specialist here at Forsythe. Noel is a wonderful resource person for the students and teachers in this building.

A voracious reader herself, Noel compiles yearly lists of recommended reading for adults and children of various ages. Many adults I know eagerly await Noel's recommendations yearly, then go out and borrow or buy books based on her tips.

Noel keeps our library beautiful and user-friendly. She cheerfully helps students all day long, every day, speaking patiently and maintaining high standards, modeling that we are a community of learners learning together.

Since I am a science teacher, I am especially aware that Noel supports our science fair in three major ways: She has collected hundreds of books of science project ideas, which she keeps on a special cart that is available to all students. Because these resources are on room reserve, during science fair season Noel photocopies many, many pages for individual students (always respecting copyright laws, of course!). As if these activities were not enough, Noel frequently mentors one or more students in academic activities to just as great an extent.

Noel is a gracious person who does many special things to support student and staff morale. She organizes Guess the Author contest, estimation contests, bookmark contests, and school wide Drop Everything and Read Times. Noel presents every staff person with a bouquet of flowers on his or her birthday! Noel Winkler is a treasure to Forsythe and highly deserving of a Celebration of Excellence Award!"

Mary Wise, AP Chemistry Teacher, Pioneer High School

Nomination submitted by Tom Jensen

"Mary Wise's ability to get the most out of her students is remarkable. She teaches AP Chemistry, which has one of the hardest AP tests of any subject. Remarkably, it has become the second most taken AP class in the school. This is because of the many sacrifices that Mrs. Wise makes to help her students succeed. She is available at lunch every single day, and after school as needed. She puts in a lot of extra hours without complaint. The last three years I have seen many peers who are not super star students do incredibly well in AP Chemistry, and that success is owed in large part to Mrs. Wise's compassionate efforts to help all of her students succeed. It is a tribute to Mrs. Wise that in spite of the fact that she gives more homework than any other teacher in the school, she is still one of the most popular teachers! Mrs. Wise is a highly competent and caring educator, and deserves every bit of recognition she can get."

Awards received January 22, 2003:

Ruth Kibry, School Aged Child Care, Abbot Elementary School

Nomination submitted by Monica Harrold

"Ruth Kirby is beginning her 13th year of service to the Abbot community via our childcare program. Ruth is our Kindergarten Care and after school supervisor and she is loved and respected by all who know and work with her. She has proven to be consistently kind, competent, caring and effective.

Furthermore, Ruth's supervisor writes: Ruth is a wonderful staff person who is dedicated and conscientious. Ruth is a person who always plans months and often seasons ahead to ensure fun and varied activities are available for the children. She is the person who gives warm fuzzies to say "nice job" and "thank-you". Parents have commented over the years how loving and nurturing Ruth is, especially when helping children resolve conflict and dealing with problem behaviors. They also appreciate her open communication style and team approach to problem solving. Ruth's philosophy is to care for all children as she does her own grandchildren."

Susan Lake, 4th Grade Teacher, King Elementary School

Nomination submitted by Linda Meneghim

"I would like to nominate Susan Lake for this award because of the excellent teacher she is. My son Anthony has progressed significantly this year and I attribute it to her teaching style, methods and how she helped him gain confidence to tackle his work and make the effort to follow directions and produce satisfactory work. Mrs. Lake is direct but gentle and discerning when it comes to communicating with both Anthony and me, his mom. I especially appreciate how she developed ways to teach the fundamentals and mechanics of writing and encouraged reading. Mrs. Lake's sunny, positive and sincere personality defines her even more as an outstanding teacher and person. It was a privilege to have Anthony as her student and for me to get to know her this year."

Michelle Rodriguez, Media Center Specialist, Clague Middle School

Nomination submitted by Clague Middle School Staff

"Michelle Rodriquez is a true beacon of light for the staff and students at Clague Middle School. What an honor it is to have someone so knowledgeable and efficient. Michelle is always thinking about innovative ways to assist the staff. When you need something she knows exactly where to go to help out. She is a fountain of creative ideas, one of which will result in the Earth Balloonist visiting Clague next fall. She has amazed all of us at Clague by bringing books, brochures, computer programs, internet activities, periodicals, posters, teaching resources etc. to our attention. She has also taken the time to inquire about materials that would be useful for special needs children and to add to our resource materials for all the children at Clague. Michelle does all of this calmly, quietly, and without drawing attention to the wonderful support she provides all of us. She does so with a GREAT sense of humor. The motto at Clague is ASK AND YOU WILL RECEIVE! Michelle has the resources, just ask!"

Paul Grady, Math Teacher, Forsythe Middle School

Nomination submitted by Catherine Shaw, Ann Novak, Karen Reynolds

"Paul Grady works tirelessly to improve middle school for both parents and students. Recognizing the many challenges that the connected math program poses for parents, he has developed a web site that helps them to see what the goals of the program are and enables them to help their children with homework. This sort of innovative outreach to families lets parents learn when they need, rather than having to wait to connect to a teacher by phone. It's helped many families through a touch homework night. Paul shows similar imagination and dedication in his work as student council advisor at Forsythe. In 2 years he has taken a moribund group and made it a critical force at the school. Paul works carefully and supportively with students to help them develop as leaders and to insure that their voices are heard on issues that matter to them."

Awards received December 11, 2002:

Cathy Carey, Secretary, Ann Arbor Preschool & Family Center

Nomination submitted by Debita Graham

"Cathy is the glue that holds our preschool programs (Head Start, MSRP, and PPI) and the many staff involved together. She works in an office that is hardly bigger than some bathrooms - an office where staff and parents come to do copying, solve problems, share their frustrations, ask questions, check their mailboxes, use the phone, look through files, enroll their children, problem solve, request program information, work out transportation problems, etc. In the midst of this chaos she remains friendly, attentive, and professional. She even maintains her sense of humor. How she ever gets any work done is a mystery, but somehow she does - in a timely and accurate fashion. We all rely on her knowledge, expertise, efficiency, kindness, and warm greeting every morning."

Herma Bargo, Cafeteria Supervisor, Thurston Elementary School

Nomination submitted by Patricia Manley

"I would like to recommend Herma Bargo, my cafeteria supervisor, for the Celebration of Excellence Award. Because of her, Thurston had a zero balance in our lunch account. Herma is sooooooooooo deserving of this. She is such a hard worker and truly cares about the kids. She is also an excellent accountant, in that she has held Thurston to a zero balance for the past two years. That is outstanding."

Mary Hurst, Kitchen Manager, Pioneer High School

Nomination submitted by Nancy Boykin, Rowanna French, Jill Soest

"We would like to nominate Mary Hurst for your prestigious award. Mary has been the kitchen manager for Pioneer High School for the past year. During this time she has not only handled the food ordering and production for the high school, adult lunches, 24 other buildings but she has dealt with a staff shortage when we need to send out her staff to cover absenteeism in the elementary schools. She has taken on the responsibility of the students in the culinary arts program with no problem or complaining. This project is very important to many of our specially challenged students. It gives them an opportunity to use classroom training in a hands-on environment. Mary has seen to it that all the students have responsibilities that fit their individual capabilities. All the while overseeing the production needs of her district kitchen staff and having her breakfasts and lunches out on time.

Mary has the ability to blend the personalities of the entire kitchen and work with all of the Pioneer staff to find the best job opportunities for each on of them. We hope that you see fit to bestow on Mary the Award of Excellence. She helps make all of our jobs easier and she deserves the recognition. Thank you for your consideration in this matter."

Awards received November 20, 2002:

Cheryl Grace, Teacher, Community High School

Nomination submitted by John Boshoven

"The consummate teacher, Cheryl goes well above and beyond her social studies call of duty in inspiring, motivating, and coaching teams of grateful Community High School students in award-winning Mock Trial & Federal Challenge Programs. Her national presence was noted by her invitation to participate in last years' Constitutional Rights Foundation Institute. We join with others in hearty appreciation and congratulations."

Wendi Parks, Office Manager, Abbot Elementary School

Nomination submitted by Shelly Coghlan

"Wendi is always pleasantly assisting. She consistently goes the extra mile for her kids and we are lucky to have her."

Stephen Roberts, Band Director, Huron High School

Nomination submitted by Khalilah Obimba

"Under the direction of Mr. Stephen Roberts, I have seen my daughter and other students mature and shine with the special discipline and self-esteem that music education and performance brings. The students rate high in district and state festivals, my daughter has done very, very well in these and in solo and ensemble, and despite a heavy academic load, she feels encouraged to continue her music education even in to college. Mr. Roberts leadership is no small part of this. I thoroughly enjoy the bands' performances at school concerts, bands in review, picnic pops, and Interlochen. I am always left wanting MORE! Mr. Roberts is a skilled and professional conductor, yet he seems to have fun. He is an asset to Huron and I am happy that my daughter is having the chance to play under his direction."

Awards received November 13, 2002:

Laurelle Brennan, School Nurse, Haisley Elementary School

Nomination submitted by Debita Graham

"Laurelle is a perfect example of what a school nurse can and should be. She is extremely knowledgeable regarding medical issues, medical procedures, and child development. She is a strong advocate for the students and families in Ann Arbor schools affected by medical concerns. She is an excellent resource for her fellow school nurses and the staff at Haisley. She is an effective liaison between families and other members of the medical community. She has an excellent rapport with the students, staff, and families at Haisley. She has a great sense of humor. Laurelle dares to care and dares to do what needs to be done so that the students at Haisley thrive in an accepting, healthy, and safe environment."

Jeffrey Bradley, Teacher, Slauson Middle School

Nomination submitted by Amy Harris

"Jeffrey Bradley has shown excellence in teaching by encouraging students to make extensive and creative use of resources in the Ann Arbor and statewide communities. Over the past several years, Mr. Bradley has developed a number of special educational units around the latest exhibits and projects at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History, where I am director. In each of these programs, students learn about the a particular topic in paleontology from a variety of different perspectives. Topics have included whale evolution, pterodactyls, and mastodons. We at the Museum especially appreciate the students' enthusiasm for fundraising to support Museum exhibits. Over the years they have raised and donated over $3000.

Mr. Bradley's most recent class project was extraordinarily successful. The students were studying mastodons in Michigan, and became involved in a campaign to make the Mastodon the Michigan State Fossil. They collected signatures, wrote letters, and even testified before the State Legislature. Their enthusiasm and support for the educational value of this prehistoric animal swayed both the Legislature and a very reluctant Governor, who signed the bill making the mastodon Michigan's state fossil in April 2002. Mr. Bradley went far beyond the call of duty to support and facilitate students in this extraordinary effort. He deserves the Award for Excellence along with our community's grateful thanks."

Linda Johnson, Preschool Teacher Consultant, Ann Arbor Preschool and Family Center

Nomination submitted by Lara MacQuarrie-Klender

"I have never nominated anyone for a Celebration of Excellence award. However, I feel so strongly about Linda Johnson, Preschool Teacher Consultant, that I cannot help but write to you and submit my nomination. Linda Johnson is the model example of an effective leader, a collaborative consultant, and a true professional. Linda is a master of creating and maintaining relationships with parents, students and colleagues. Linda is a connector between professional agencies, community experts and local staff. Linda is an advocate of best practices and exemplifies best practice in action in assessment, intervention, and collaboration. Linda is an advocate for students and families and has served as a mentor, officially and unofficially, for new staff. We, in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, are fortunate to have the expertise of Linda Johnson within our ranks. Thank you, Linda, for all that you do."

Joyce Hunter, Director, Career Tech & Ed, Balas II

Nomination submitted by Lauretta Flowers

"As a new school year approaches, I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to acknowledge a former River Rat who left an indelible impression on Huron High. Joyce Hunter has been gone from Huron for one year, but her formidable attributes shouldn't go unnoticed. Joyce is extremely organized. She is leader who is committed to getting the job done well and efficiently. While at Huron, Joyce was instrumental in getting the community assistants to work together to keep the hallways clear and flowing during passing time. She was able to instill school pride among students while using the cafeteria. Students were seen picking up their garbage and showing a sense of pride for their surroundings. The community assistants monitored the area and supported the student's efforts. As an administrator at Huron, Joyce fostered a "team" approach of administering. She really worked as a team to bring about change. If you had a problem with a student, you could count on Joyce to help solve the problem. She was a diligent class administrator and a real people person. Her presence is still missed at Huron, but I'm sure appreciated in her new position in career ed and technology."