May 21, 2024

Emerson Hough principal and Berg Middle School nurse receive awards from NCEF

Tara Zehr and Jen Flake recognized for going ‘above and beyond’ for their students

Left: Tara Zehr, principal of Emerson Hough Elementary School, gets "big hearts" from her students after receiving the Above & Beyond Award from Newton Community Educational Foundation. Right: Jen Flake, a school nurse at Berg Middle School, embraces a fellow staff member after receiving the Above & Beyond Award from Newton Community Educational Foundation.

Two staff members of the Newton Community School District were recognized this month for going “above and beyond” in their respective buildings.

Tara Zehr, the principal of Emerson Hough, and Jen Flake, school nurse at Berg Middle School, received the Above & Beyond Awards on April 4 and April 15, respectively, during surprise assemblies hosted by the Newton Community Educational Foundation (NCEF). They also received $500 scholarships.

During the Senior Awards Assembly on May 3, Zehr and Flake will be able to give their scholarships to whoever they want. Kelly Sorenson, communications and outreach secretary for Newton schools, said Flake was nominated for creating a safe space at school where students feel special and smart.

“She starts their day off with hope and encouragement,” Sorenson said. “She makes kids feel good about being themselves.”

Jen Flake, a school nurse at Berg Middle School, finds out she has received the Above & Beyond Award from Newton Community Educational Foundation.
Newton Community School District administrators and members of Newton Community Educational Foundation pose for a picture after Jen Flake, school nurse at Berg Middle School, received the Above & Beyond Award.
Jen Flake, a school nurse at Berg Middle School, embraces a fellow staff member after receiving the Above & Beyond Award from Newton Community Educational Foundation.

Zehr goes above and beyond for all of her students, Sorenson added. Zehr is attentive to their needs and is always willing to brainstorm ideas on how to help a student who struggles a little more than the rest. She makes students feel important no matter where she sees them in the community.

“She demonstrates all of the district’s core values. She attends all the youth events, delivers meals, helps fill family’s needs and supports all staff and students,” Sorenson said. “Tara does all this without judgement and with humility, which truly makes her approachable by students, families and staff.

“She takes time to truly listen to each voice.”

Tara Zehr, principal of Emerson Hough Elementary School, gets "big hearts" from her students after receiving the Above & Beyond Award from Newton Community Educational Foundation.
Tara Zehr, principal of Emerson Hough Elementary School, gets "big hearts" from her students after receiving the Above & Beyond Award from Newton Community Educational Foundation.
Tara Zehr, principal of Emerson Hough Elementary School, poses for a picture with family members after receiving the Above & Beyond Award from Newton Community Educational Foundation and a $500 schoolarship to give to a senior next month.
Newton Community School District administrators and members of Newton Community Educational Foundation pose for a picture after Tara Zehr, principal of Emerson Hough Elementary School, received the Above & Beyond Award.
Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.