Celebration of Excellence Award Winners

Awards received June 9, 2004

Teacher Clerks Group Recognition
Announced by Superintendent George V. Fornero

We are pleased to honor a group of individuals, often overlooked, who assist in our schools every day.  Our elementary Teacher Clerks are some of the hardest working professionals in our district, and even though they are “hourly, part-time” employees, they possess a wealth of knowledge, providing nurturing, thoughtful assistance to students, staff and parents alike.  These respected employees are incredibly dedicated and an asset to our district.

It is my pleasure to present to the Teacher Clerks who are able to be here this evening with a certificate to recognize their meritorious contributions to the Ann Arbor Public Schools:

Kristie Gallinger – Allen
Michelle Gasco – Lakewood
Dee Juntunen – Pattengill
Anne McNally – Northside
Angela Vietinghoff - Dicken
Those unable to attend but equally deserving of recognition are:

Deborah Foster – Abbot
Cathy Knox – Angell
Jackie Hill-Shiplett – Ann Arbor Open @ Mack
Diane Cleghorn – Bach
Dori Porta – Bryant
Martha Balmer – Burns Park
Carolyn Yocic – Carpenter
Lynn Wagner – Eberwhite
Loni Lutter – Haisley
Robin Basta – King
Chiara Thomas – Lakewood
Rhonda Goodman – Lawton
Anne Lawrence – Logan
Laura Diegel – Mitchell
Jane Winters – Pittsfield
Laura Hannaford – Thurston
Theresa Nemetz – Wines
Shelley Hinderer - Preschool

Thank you for all you do.

Sally Brieloff, Teacher, Mitchell Elementary

Nomination submitted by Julie & Ronald Steiff

"Mrs. Brieloff has been my son's teacher for both first and second grades, and our whole family has been delighted to have her play such an important role in Jordan's life. Because she welcomes parent involvement, I have spent many happy hours in Mrs. Brieloff's classroom and have always been impressed by its livelily and positive atmosphere.  the children are clearly engaged and eager to participate in whatever is going on.  At their morning meetings, hands continually shoot into the air as nearly all of the students have something to say.  A wonderful sense of community permeates the classroom, in part because she has encouraged the students to turn to each other for help instead of running to her with every question or problem.  The tone of their discourse is also remarkably positive.  Mrs. Brieloff takes the children seriously and speaks to them respectfully; she also teaches them how to treat each other with respect.  For example once during sharing time a student said something that was unintentionally funny, and the class's laughter went on a bit too long.  Mrs. Brieloff reminded them, "It's polite to know when to stop laughing" and sensitively steered the conversation in such a way as to spare the student embarrassment.  I believe the kids respond well to such considerate treatment and love her unreservedly.  My own son reports that he hugs her "probably a hundred times a day. "

I could say many wonderful things about Mrs. Brieloff, but I would like to focus on how she has fostered my son's love of reading.  She has really reinforced our efforts to present reading as a pleasurable activity.  she cherry-picks books for the children according to their individual interests and abilities, and she has recommended additional books and series to me that she thought Jordan would like  She won Jordan's heart forever when she granted his request to bend the classroom rules by keeping more than one chapter book in his browsing box, since he was going through them so quickly.  Recently when Jordan was home sick for four days, he said not a word about missing his friends, but rather fretted about missing Akiko in the Planet Smoo, the chapter book Mrs. Brieloff had been reading to the class (when he returned, she allowed him to borrow it and finish it at home.)  Jordan as consistently been reading above expectation for his grade level, and I give Mrs. Brieloff much of the credit for that.

Because of my personal circumstances this year, I haven't been able to spend as much time in the classroom as I would like.  While I naturally regret this, I don't worry about not being there, because I know my son is in good hands.  It is a great comfort to know, as I drop him off at school in the morning, that he is spending his days with such a caring and skilled person.  I hope you will recognize her with the Celebration of Excellence Award, since she is truly an excellent teacher."

Ellen Marshall, Secretary, Pioneer High

Nomination submitted by Irene Grace

"Ellen has revamped the records office at Pioneer so that is runs much more efficiently.  She has developed policy and designed systems that allow for the efficient transfers of our outrageously large volume of paperwork.

Ellen works with as wide a cross-section of our community as anyone.  She is fair, efficient, literate.  She meets all requests with courtesy and dispatch."

Rebecca Rinkoski, Cafeteria Manager, Wines Elementary

Nomination submitted by Connie Cole

"Each day she's happy and works with each child's needs.  When the kids wouldn't drink the new milk she knew about it and did something.  She keeps her ear to the group with the kids."

Gretchen Baxtresser, Music Teacher, Pioneer High

Nomination submitted by Ken Westerman

"Gretchen is thoughtful, demanding, and musical.  She comes early, stays late, and works with students in class and out to improve their musicianship and lives."

Awards recieved on May 26, 2004

Tom Clarkson, Teacher, King Elementary

Nomination submitted by Wei Wang

"Mr. Clarkson's innovative approach has inspired his students to achieve excellence.  For example, his reading calendar and reward system has worked well and I have witnessed my son's big progress in his reading ability as well as his affection of reading, thanks to Mr. Clarkson!"

Cathy Cieglo, Teacher, Dicken Elementary

Nomination submitted by Melissa Reitz

"Cathy is an excellent communicator!  She responds immediately to concerns via email and in person.  She has a very sunny disposition and I can tell she likes my child - who is  a "live wire."

Greg Compton, Teacher, Lawton Elementary

Nomination submitted by Knut Simonsen

"He works tireless to help both the strong students be challenged and the weaker students understand the important concepts despite not having touched their homework.  Given that he has more than his share of "troubled" kids, he has come up with many creative ways of teaching them discipline and that certain behavior has good consequence and others have bad, e.g. point systems for good behavior that provides more time for "fun" activities, and green, yellow and red cards for bad behavior.  Communicates effectively on a weekly basis to the parents through the Compton Journal - where he lays out the activities of the past week as well as what to look for in the coming week.  He also utilizes a computer projector and a sound system to make the class room both fun as well as educational."

Awards received on May 12, 2004

Terry Shock, Custodian, Lawton Elementary

Nomination submitted by Patti Kralik

"Mr. Shock is kind to students, parents, and staff.  He is always willing to accommodate requests for special furniture arrangements, trash bin needs, etc. for our school's many special events.  He puts in extra time if needed and I've never heard him complain about anything he's asked to do.  He is a quiet man, but makes an effort to participate in school events and to be part of Lawton's community.  Mr. Shock participated in our first two (only two) Run-A-Thons for charity in 2002 and 2003.  This shows true dedication to our school on his part.  We are fortunate to have him at Lawton."

Marie Embry, Teacher, Pattengill Elementary

Nomination submitted by Avery Hubbard, Ron Ludwig, Deborah Smith, Angie Uyham

"Marie Embry has given outstanding service to her colleagues and students while guiding the Pattengill School staff through the implementation of the Literacy collaborative.  with Marie's support.  Pattengill has committed to the practices of the Literacy Collaborative which have profoundly improved our student's achievement in reading and writing.

When the district asked for literacy leaders in 2000, Marie stepped forward for intensive training in the Literacy Collaborative at Leslie University in Cambridge, Mass.  Since then, she has led us in many hours of professional  development, coached each teacher individually, coordinated the development of classroom libraries, organized our book room, and continued her work and training through Leslie University.

With her extensive training and experience with the Literacy Collaborative, she provides crucial support as our teachers master this challenging, but rewarding, new way of teaching.  She takes a very positive approach and suggests and demonstrates techniques that a teacher might use.  One teacher comments, "No time is ever a bad time for a question." She will pull out her literacy book and chime away at your question.  At times it seems we are all bogged down with teaching elements, then it is her smile and her persistence to keep Pattengill afloat with the best literacy practices that inspires us to continue working toward the light at the end of the tunnel."

Another staff member says, "As a new teacher to Pattengill, I have always felt encouraged by Marie and look forward to her advice and expertise.  She is understanding, insightful and always supportive.  I can't even begin to explain how much I've learned about literacy from her."

For her initiative, leadership, and service to her colleagues, we nominate Marie Embry for the Celebration of Excellence Award."

Mary Fishwick, Secretary, Angell Elementary

Nomination submitted by Donna Friedman

"Mary is the first face you see at Angell.  What a face!  She wears many faces.  She acts as nurse, friend, parent, organizer and interpreter.  She is kind in spirit and nurturing in heart.  They do not get any better.  From skinned knees and nose bleeds to making sure all needs are met.  Mary does her job with a smile.  We are lucky to have this very competent and kind person helping parents, teachers and most importantly our students. Mary is the best."

Awards received on April 28, 2004

Doug Smith, Carpenter, Balas I

Nomination submitted by Gary Supanich

"Doug is truly a good samaritan. During a recent outing to Huron Hills park, I had locked my keys in my car. Doug, who had just arrived, readily offered to drive me home to pick up another set of keys and then drove me back. Then, because my car was stuck in the snow, he helped me dislodge the car. It was an extraordinary act of kindness and generosity.

Doug is the kind of person who is always willing to help people out without asking and without getting anything in return. The world would do well with many more Doug Smiths. Doug is an excellent carpenter for the district, and has hand-built many signs for our schools."

Carol Mohrlock, Teacher, Slauson Middle School

Nomination submitted by Marci Harris

"Carol Mohrlock is an outstanding teacher. Her devotion to the students in her class goes above and beyond the walls of her classroom. Carol reaches students and connects with them on an individual basis - as her colleague, she is one of the first people I ask when I want to understand a certain child's behavior or level of achievement She knows each of her students so well - and how to help them achieve. She plans her lessons so that all children will be successful. Carol Mohrlock also seeks to improve her teaching professionally. She continues to learn and bring her experiences into the classroom. As a geography teacher, she applied for a grant to study and travel in Poland. Since her trip, she has incorporated her learnings into her curriculum. She does a fabulous job of using her community to enrich her classroom. Guest speakers frequent her classroom - providing her students with a variety of cultural experiences - music, dance, food and! a variety of activities from the areas that she teaches.

I am proud to teach with Carol Mohrlock and wish she would teach long enough for my own children to have her as a teacher. She truly is one of the best!"

Tracy Bond, Secretary, Clague Middle School

Nomination submitted by Patricia Boyd/Jason Loren

"Mrs. Tracy Bond is a very kind, helpful, cheerful person to deal with. She has helped me considerably with my son’s (Jason Laren) education. Always willing to extend herself above and beyond the call of duty. My 3 years with her has made Clague a very positive experience. I would like to thank her for her dedication to us parents along with our children."

Awards Received on March 24, 2004

Marion Evashevski, Teacher, Community High School

Nomination submitted by Evan Boyd & Maggie Klein

"Marion Evashevski is one of those teachers that will be remembered long after she’s gone. She uses honesty and connects with students on their level without losing respect. Marion is favored by all because she tells it to us truthfully, sometimes painfully truthful. Most of all though, she’s real and funny with a magnetic personality that makes all her students want to learn in her classes. PLEASE award this EXCELLENT teacher!"

Gwen Bagner-Patterson, Childcare/Lunchroom Supervisor, Northside Elementary

Nomination Submitted by Mrs. Piper

"Miss Gwen is super sweet. She has patience, enjoys the kids and it shows. She’s dependable, has fun activities for the kids and makes everyone feel welcome and at home. Great job Miss Gwen! "

Tracey Metry, Teacher, Angell Elementary

Nomination submitted by Kurt Zhu & Charlene & Doug Plagens

Comments from Kurt Zhu: "Mrs. Metry created a very creative, original curriculum for my child. I feel my child is learning, not only reading and math, but also social issues, science and world culture

Mrs. Metry sends me weekly letters to inform me what my child is doing and what I can do to help my child to learn. I feel connected and involved."

Comments from Charlene & Doug Plagens: "Mrs. Metry has the special touch required to make a new introduction. A child walks through her doors and she welcomes them with open arms. she quickly establishes routine in the day so the fear of the unknown changes to excitement for knowing what is coming next. Tracey really works hard to assess the needs of each child. She brings the curriculum to them. She gives lots of praise for effort and success. Opens herself to dialogue with parents. Excellent teacher who should be recognized."

Janet Gow, Bus Driver, Transportation Department

Nomination submitted by David Kloiber/Julie Geyer

"Miss Janet is a terrific bus driver. She always has a smile for the kids and parents, is patient with late arrivals and, well, my 2nd grader explains it better in his attached essay!"

My Bus Driver, by David
I like my bus driver very much.
She is very nice to us. My bus driver always tells us the latest news. I sit in the front seat in the bus so I can talk to the bus driver and my seat mates. My bus driver’s name is Ms. Janet.

Awards Received on March 10, 2004

Shaugn Kalnaraups, Teacher, Lakewood Elementary

Nomination submitted by Jessica Jonas

"Shaugn is a teacher who has always gone the "extra mile." As she prepared her class to study Michigan and its history, she put a "twist" on the Native American portion of the curriculum. Shaugn collaborated with the Principal, the fire department, the Ann Arbor News, and the environmental focus plan to coordinate an authentic Native American Thanksgiving Feast. She has clearly taught her students through creative and innovative lessons and experiences. I do hope Shaugn can continue to inspire fellow colleagues to work to their fullest creative potential."

Dianne Cupps, Teacher Clague Middle School

Nomination submitted by the Stern Family

"Mrs. Cupps has done a wonderful job of encouraging and inspiring my son to do his best work. She is fair, has a wonderful sense of humor, makes learning in her class very fun, and challenges each student with creative projects and writing assignments. She has a "playful/humorous" side that the students really relate to and enjoy. My son cringed when he heard that he would have Mrs. Cupps for two years. Now I think he feels blessed that he is one of the "chosen" few! As a parent, if my child is happy, able to share his experiences in his classes with me and motivated to learn and do his best work, then I can not ask for anything better! Diane Cupps has been a teacher at Clague for a long time and I think she deserves recognition for being an inspiring teacher."

Awards Received February 11, 2004

Carol Ladley, Teacher, Huron High School

Nomination submitted by Dianne Dabrowski

"Carol is an integral part of the staff at Huron High School. She makes herself available to staff and students in an effort to promote a safe and equitable environment for everyone. I have a great respect for Carol's professionalism and attention to detail in all that she does. She always puts the needs of her colleagues and students over her own. Even though she teaches a 7th hour class and doesn't have to be here at 7 a.m. she is here early and rarely leaves before 5 in the evenings. For all of that extra work...is she compensated? Is she rewarded? I think that Carol just thinks that it is her duty to work hard, do the best for all, and help Huron High grow in excellence! I could not have a better Co-Worker and friend!"

Claire Sprau, Teaching Assistant, Thurston Elementary

Nomination submitted by Diane Crang

"Claire is an outstanding teacher assistant. She is unfailingly enthusiastic about her work and relates extremely well to everyone at his or her own level--especially and most importantly, the children who are lucky enough to be assigned to her classroom. Claire is always helpful and kind to staff, parents and students alike. What really sets Claire apart, however, is her compassion for the children and parents in her charge. This quality in an educator is priceless. I cherish her presence at Thurston, and thank you for sending us such a wonderful human being to help take care of our kids."

Awards Received January 28, 2004

Bret Trocchio, Teacher, Huron High School

Nomination submitted by Paul Huebner

"Mr. Trocchio’s dedication and hard work in establshing a writing center at Huron High, has been a pilar of inspiration and hope for students. As a teacher already swamped with his regular duties, he has taken on an additional class to aide students. This help not only extends to the kids coming to the writing center for help with their writing, but also those taking the class. He helps the writing fellows, as they are called, to maintain a caring and compassinate environment as well as developing the teaching and leadership qualities of the writing fellows. "

James Dwyer, Teacher, Huron High School

Nomination submitted by Paul Heubner

"When asked what English class I take at Huron, I can proudly say to the AC English students: "Mr. Dwyers Brit. Lit." They can have their East of Eden, their Siddartha. Give me fifty-three minutes with D-money, exploring the intricacies of british literature. His captivating explanations and astounding details in which he explains these seemingly dull pieces of art; books I would have dreaded to read, but the way the information is handled and presented makes this class extremely sought-after at Huron. He presents not only the written works, but incorporates music when reading to set the desired mood or effect. The Huron English department is so strong because of Mr. Dwyer."

Awards Received January 14, 2004

Anne Thomas, Teacher, Community High School

Nomination submitted by Janice Leach

"I was impressed when Anne Thomas offered extra after-school tutoring and support to my son last spring, when he was not even a student in her class. His math class had a long-term substitute for the year and Anne wanted to make sure that the juniors in that class were getting the background they would need to succeed in calculus in the following year. Now that my son is a student in Anne's class, I continue to be impressed with her work as a teacher. On Curriculum Night, she displayed a palpable enthusiasm for her subject and her students-- and I know it is not easy to make calculus fun, but she does it somehow. I see her effectiveness as a teacher in how motivated my son is to do his work and how well prepared he is to do well in math. She has an open door policy with taking calls from students for help or clarification, and she called our house to remind my son of the Michigan Math Competition the next day. She is an extraordinary teacher!"

Pete Fogler, Teaching Assistant, Pattengill Elementary

Nomination submitted by Revoir, Speiss, Uyham, Vayda

"Mr. Fogler has selflessly served the teachers and students at Pattengill with a seemingly endless amount of positive support and energy for the past three years in his position as Teacher Assistant. Pattengill teachers consider Mr. Fogler an invaluable member of the teaching staff; a true team-teaching partner. his personal commitment to providing students with the “extra” time and attention needed to lift their independent learning levels has proven to be the key ingredient in the continued success of many children. Mr. Fogler has chosen to share in the extensive training and implementation of the Literacy Collaborative Initiative. Though Mr. Fogler works with hundreds of Pattengill students every day, he is familiar with and knowledgeable about the unique needs of all. The title “Teaching Assistant” does not do this man justice. His abilities, involvement in the learning community, and relationships with staff and students far surpass the limited definition of an assistant. He is one of the most skilled and dedicated educators at Pattengill Elementary."

Awards Received on December 10, 2003

Richard Pierce, Teacher, Forsythe

Nomination submitted by Dan Ezekiel and Mary Thomas

Comments from Dan Ezekiel: "Dick Pierce is an outstanding Life Science teacher with a big heart. He is the kind of teacher we need more of, who close achievement gaps by reaching out to less-advantaged students. We all remember a teacher or teachers from our school days who cared about us, who made learning significant, and who provided experiences that inspired us to feel capable and to learn more. Dick Pierce is such a teacher. Dick’s room is a beehive of constructive student activity from long before the school day starts until long after most teachers have gone home. Like most Ann Arbor middle school science classrooms, during the school day, Room 501 is busy with hands-on, minds-on activities. The annual dissection of squid, followed the next day by a Calamari feast, is one example. Another is the simple experiments developed by the students with live animals, such as grasshoppers. Does a grasshopper prefer a damp tissue or a dry tissue to stand on? Students absorb scientific knowledge and method “out of the air” in Dick’s classroom. But what really makes Dick’s teaching special is all the extra time he gives. Before school and after school, his room is full of students popping popcorn, watering and trimming plants, feeding and exercising his many classroom pets, all to the accompaniment of teenage chatter and pop music on the boom box. Dick welcomes students who lack another wholesome place to be, before or after school. He reels them in through their love of pets and their longing to belong to a community. He provides a safe, non-judgmental place for them to be kids, interact with pets and with one another, and feel they belong and are useful. Dick also coordinates our buildingís outdoor environmental learning areas. It is common to see troops of 7th graders heading out the courtyard or field with wheelbarrows, shovels, and other gardening tools, later returning with looks of self-satisfaction. He also sponsors and mentors many science projects, at both the Forsythe Science Fair and the Southeastern Michigan Science Fair. Many adults in the AAPS talk about issues of diversity and inclusion. Dick Pierce models them every day. Anyone who followed Dick Pierce around Forsythe for a single day would be both enlightened and exhausted when it was over, but he will be back tomorrow and do it all over again! No one who knows him will forget Mr. Pierce, the teacher who raised chickens in the Forsythe courtyard!"

Comments from Mary Thomas: "As a parent of a former student at Forsythe Middle School, I am writing to recognize a member of the Forsythe faculty. Mr. Richard Pierce stands out among a group of dedicated, energetic, and extremely competent teachers. Simply put, Dick Pierce is one of the best! I am impressed with his teaching style and his knowledge of science. There is no question that every day Mr. Pierce is prepared - not just to present a lesson but to bring science to life in the classroom. He is tremendously enthusiastic and touches students in a way that stimulates their desire to investigate, explore, question, and embrace science. Beyond the realm of normal classroom duties, Mr. Pierce absolutely distinguishes himself from even the top strata of teachers. He puts in endless hours outside the school day just "being there" for students and providing a place for them to socialize, to get extra help, to interact with classroom pets, and to spend time with an adult who cares and shows genuine interest in their lives. After working all day, it is amazing that Mr. Pierce has the energy and patience to leave his door open and invite large numbers of students, who might otherwise be unsupervised, to spend time in his classroom. They are greeted with guidance, a positive role model, a safe environment, and even snacks. When I asked my daughter "What three words come to mind when you think of Mr. Pierce?" she responded, "Caring, intelligent, and humorous." There is no question that Mr. Pierce had a positive impact on her life and that she learned much from him beyond the science curriculum. There is also no question that Dick Pierce has impacted the lives of literally thousands of middle school students in the same way. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated, talented, and committed teacher in our community."

Debbie Riley, Secretary, Thurston Elementary

Nomination submitted by Cathy Behrendt

"We are lucky to have Mrs. Riley in charge of the main office at Thurston. She's the first point of contact for all our families, and she is always warm and welcoming. Even when she's buried under piles of forms or boxes of supplies or coping with the latest computer glitch, she's still cheerful and efficient. Please recognize Mrs. Riley's excellence on behalf of the Thurston parents and students who rely on her every day."

Awards received on November 19, 2003

Christine North, Teacher, Abbot Elementary

Nomination submitted by Hanna Melangton

“My daughter had Mrs. North for 4th grade in the 2001-02 school year but Mrs. North continued to stay connected to my daughter and her other classmates. She always took time to listen to them and help them resolve their problems. She took time from her own schedule to make time for them, even coming to their Girl Scout meeting to help with a project. She made my daughter wish that her last day of school was her first. I take that as the sign of a great teacher! Additionally, as a long-term sub at Abbot, I could always rely on Chris to support and help me with any issues that arose. She was always there with a smiling face and lots of good advice.”

Jerry Wideman, Crew Chief, Carpentry Shop

Nomination Submitted by Michael Hecker

“Jerry Wideman has consistently offered outstanding customer service to teachers, secretaries, principals, and other building personnel. Jerry has a very welcoming approach, that instantly puts others at ease. He shows a real concern for the matter at hand, whether it involves an air conditioner that is leaking, a counter needing to be replaced, or bulletin boards needing to be ordered. Mr. Wideman always wants to find out what others need, and is very honest about estimated completion times. He really lives by the motto: "Deliver what the customer needs." In summary, Mr. Wideman is an excellent example of someone who demonstrates a great eagerness to help others, as evidenced by all of the satisfied customers at the two schools (Huron and Clague) I have worked in”

Awards Received on November 12, 2003

Mary Margaret Cornish, ESL Teacher, Slauson Middle School

Nomination submitted by Jan MacKenzie

“Mary Margaret has the challenging task of teaching our non-english speaking students. At Slauson, we have the range of ESL students from no English to a lot of English. Plus, she teaches all three grades. Mary Margaret helps the students but also helps the staff with these students. She is always communicating with teachers and counselors about her students and their needs. She helps teachers modify assignments for the ESL students. She makes sure that her students are getting as much or as little assistance as needed. She is always evaluating their progress. The ESL group of students are a quiet group. She acts as their voice. She is their advocate. And she communicates with the families of these students. She is a real asset to our school and especially to her students. It is hard to imagine being 12 years old and coming to a country where you don't speak the language. Mary Margaret helps these kids be a little less frieghtened and helps the rest of the staff help them.”

Sally Johnson, Head Custodian, Scarlett Middle School

Nomination submitted by Ray Reetz

“I would like to nominate Sally Johnson, head custodian at Scarlett Middle School for the Celebration of Excellence Award. Mrs. Johnson made what could have been a very difficult and stressful year for me, much more manageable. Even though I was asking her to give up more of her time with extra duties, during the busiest part of her day, she always did it with a great attitude and sense of humor. Her hard work, everyday, allowed me to teach outside of my classroom and gave the students a larger and safer area to participate in the activities. Mrs. Johnson's work over the summer also allowed me to begin the already busy new school year in a new classroom, without the stress that comes with changing rooms. We are lucky to have her as part of the Scarlett Staff.”

Awards Received October 8, 2003

Michael Talley, Teaching Assistant, Carpenter Elementary

Nomination submitted by Terry McViccar

"It is with great pleasure that I nominate Mr. Talley for a Celebration of Excellence Award. I have the honour of teaching with Mr. Talley in one of our district's self-contained classrooms (Upper El, Emotionally Impaired). Mr. Talley is an intergral part of our classroom programming. He consistently goes beyond expectations. He has developed a sports skills program that helps our students learn social skills and life skills important to their emotional development. He has taken students on in his after school coaching activities, furthering strong relationships with these students. He has orchestrated special after school events for our students and parents. Mr. Talley's reach goes beyond our classroom. Through the mainstreaming aspects of our program, Mr. Talley has established himself with many students outside of our classroom. He has been an excellent role model for our students, giving of his time, love, and experiences, all of which enhance our classroom, making it feel like family."

Holly Neeb, Teaching Assistant, Wines Elementary

Nomination submitted by Margo Williams

"My autistic daughter, Natalie Williams has thrived under the guidance of ms. Neeb, who has provided her with one-on-one assistance since Kindergarten. Ms. Neeb joined Natalie part way through her Kindergarten year. At the time, there were concerns about Natalie’s placement in an inclusion setting. Natalie found the environment of Kindergarten confusing and sometimes responded by bolting or acting out against her caregivers. Ms. Neeb was able to help change this. Ms. Neeb has proven invaluable in facilitating Natalie’s language, academic and social development at Wines Elementary School. She has an intuitive ability to understand Natalie and anticipate her needs. she is often able to prevent behavior problems from occurring through her sensitivity to my daughter’s feelings and needs. The program developed to support my daughter is complicated and requires both intelligence and creativity. Ms. Neeb is able to implement effective practices and to help refine the program so that it is effective. Natalie’s autism presents numerous challenges and her behavior can be unpredictable, but Ms. Neeb has demonstrated infinite patience and composure as she persists in employing different approaches to teaching Natalie. Since Ms. Neeb possesses a vibrant personality that attracts children, she provides Natalie with more opportunities for social interaction. She has created a lunch club consisting of 6 girls with whom Natalie has been able to develop relationships. She has successfully guided and encourages other students to interact with Natalie both on the playground and in the classroom. Her sensitivity to meeting the special needs of my daughter has made a world of difference in our lives. Her enthusiasm and support have been invaluable. Her hard work and commitment are exceptional and she is very deserving of the Ann Arbor Schools Celebration of Excellence Award."

Laura Kennedy, Teacher, Wines Elementary

Nomination submitted by Margo Williams

"Curriculum modification and additional assistance have been essential to facilitate my daughter’s learning. Ms. Kennedy has risen to this teaching challenge with an open mind and enthusiasm. She has nurtured my daughter’s development through the use of a detailed visual schedule, the creation of an IEP goals matrix, providing consistency in the classroom, using visual aids and other tools to insure that my daughter understands the material. She has created scripts outlining activities for every part of the school day, and planning for almost every possible contingency. Ms. Kennedy has also fostered my daughter’s social development and inspired the whole class to accept and assist my daughter. Ms. Kennedy’s perceptive accommodations and consistent caring have made my daughter’s inclusion a success. To achieve this level of support, Ms. Kennedy has sought out training and assistance from every source at her disposal. She has met with Teacher Consultants and WISD consultants on a regular basis on her own time at lunch and after school. Ms. Kennedy also makes sure to meet the needs of every child in her classroom she has enthusiastically adopted a Balance Literacy approach in her instruction and differentiates instruction so that all of her students are working at their instructional level in all areas. She uses brain gym activities to help students to develop physically as well as academically, and to help them to be ready to learn. She works extremely hard to educate each child in her classroom, and I am very pleased to see that she has taken extra time to see that my daughter’s special needs are met as well. Her dedication and outstanding efforts merit her receiving the Ann Arbor Schools Celebration of Excellence award."

Awards received September 10, 2003

Jane Ziesemer, Administrative Assistant, Huron High School

Nomination submitted by Carol Ladley

"Jane has done and continues to do a wonderful job as Administrative Assistant to the Principal, Dr. Williams at Huron High School. She has a welcoming personality, pleasant voice, and a warm smile. I have found her to be very knowledgeable and always willing to help. She is certainly an invaluable member of Huron’s family."

Linda Hoadley, Teacher, Tappan Middle School

Nomination submitted by Sue Wei

"The digital pictures she attaches to her weekly homework posts are innovative and wonderful in so many different ways. It is great to see the classroom environment in middle school, since parents do not typically help in the classroom like in elementary school. But most of all, these pictures are conversational pieces with my teenage daughter, who will launch into explanations, talk about kids, projects, etc. This is a great idea, which I hope will catch on in the high school, when kids are perhaps even less communicative."

Carlos Soto, Technology Assistant, Preschool/Lakewood

Nomination submitted by Sue Westbrooks and Kevin Curran/Preschool staff

Comments from Sue Westbrooks: "Carlos gently explains, demonstrates and re-explains and re-demonstrates new technology to staff. He always has a smile on his face even though he may be explaining the same thing for the hundredth time. We feel comfortable asking any question, no matter how simplistic,to Carlos. He can explain the most complicated piece of technology in language we all can understand and fix any 'mess' we have created on our computers. Carlos is always working to keep us on the cutting edge of technology. Thanks, Carlos we couldn't compute without you!"

Comments from Kevin Curran on behalf of Ann Arbor Preschool staff: "Carlos has been remarkably responsive to our many concerns over the past few years. We not only have limited computer knowledge, but our building has been left out of many equipment distributions because of our obscurity and non-building status. He has worked tirelessly to get us needed equipment and then to train us in how to use it. He has gotten us a digital video camera, a digital still camera, several new computers to upgrade our archaic ones and a building server to back up our many MET’s and reports. Our old machines have required significant upkeep and problem solving and Carlos has always been quick to respond and with a pleasantness and humor we’ve come to expect. We applaud Carlos’ excellence of skill, attitude and performance."