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Excellence in Education Awards highlight creativity

Seven educators received honors at Chamber banquet

Published: Friday, April 29, 2016 12:27 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 29, 2016 12:45 p.m. CDT
(Jamee A. Pierson/Daily News)
Karen King receives her Excellence in Education Award from Newton Schools Superintendent Bob Callaghan during a Greater Newton Chamber of Commerce event in January. The annual awards go to teachers who are an inspiration and show dedication.

Jayne Freese had some trouble deciding on her favorite parts of a school day.

“First thing in the morning when the students come in,” Freese said. “And reading and discussing books — and problem-solving in math — but using toys to teach science is right up there, too — so, maybe, all day, every day would be a better answer. Without a doubt, the students are the best part of every day as we all learn together.”

Freese and six other Newton Community School District staff members received awards at this year’s Greater Newton Chamber of Commerce annual banquet in January. Six teachers received the Excellence in Education Awards from the Newton Community Educational Foundation and Basics & Beyond Secretary Karen King received the Above and Beyond Award.

All educators were nominated by a student or parent. Winners received a $250 award for classroom enrichment and a commemorative gift.

Freese, who teaches at Aurora Heights Elementary School, was joined by Krysten Osby of Berg Elementary, Megan Frehse of Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Doug Smith from Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Kathy Ventling of Basics & Beyond and Niki Hively of Newton High School as Excellence in Education recipients.

For consideration, a candidate has to be an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled faculty member who plans to remain active as a professional educator. Candidates should inspire students to learn and have the respect, admiration and support of students, parents and colleagues, and play an active role in the community. Prior winners of the Excellence In Education Award remain eligible.

The 2016-17 nomination forms will be made available online on the district website: www.NewtonCSD.org, under “news and announcements.”

Those honored at the 2015 banquet included middle school teacher Deb Rose, Alyssa Lewis, Desia Kies and Scott Garvis of Newton High School and elementary school staff members Jen Elbert Kim Vanderlaan, Marla Cory and Cori Latcham.

The Newton Community Educational Foundation has supported innovative educational programs in Newton schools since 1990. Financed entirely through donations, the NCEF provides funding for projects which go beyond the basics to create enriched learning experiences for every student.

Each teacher honored at the event articulated what they love about teaching. Comments from nomination forms were also read.

The nomination for Smith, the Woodrow Wilson honoree, speaks to his nature as both a person and as teacher.

“Giving of his time and talents outside of the school day is a priority for him,” reads one nomination. “He built a very complex costume for a level-three wheelchair bound student so he could ‘Trick or Treat’ and feel like one of the other kids. He makes every student feel good about themselves and important to the class.”

The NCEF prepared a statement to describe why King was receiving the Above and Beyond Award.

“Through grants and resourcefulness, she has volunteered her time and talent to give students artistic opportunities,” the statement reads. “Her skills and dedicated commitment have impacted these students. Her joyous celebration of the arts inspires us all.”

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com

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