By CHUCK OFFENBURGER
SHENANDOAH, Iowa, Oct. 24, 2017 — This school year’s top local education awards will be presented at a free, public reception on Wednesday evening, Nov.15, at the Elks Lodge in Shenandoah. The event is being held as part of the celebration of American Education Week.
Sponsorship is by the Shenandoah Education Association (SEA), the Shenandoah Support Staff Association (SSA+), and the Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation.
The SEA, continuing an honors tradition that stretches back decades, will be introducing its “Teacher of the Year” and “Friend of Education” award winners. The SSA+ will recognize a “Support Staff Member of the Year” for the first time ever. And the education foundation will present a $250 mini-grant to the teacher of the year, and $100 to the support staff honoree.
The reception begins with a social time from 5 to 5:30 p.m., then hors d’oeuvres catered by Lu & Al’s Nishna Valley Café.
Education foundation president Corby Fichter will give a welcome, followed by the award presentations. Chuck Offenburger, a 1965 SHS graduate and a member of the foundation board of directors, will reflect briefly on the huge role public education plays in our society and a new urgency in supporting it. And Dr. Kerri Nelson, superintendent of schools, will make closing remarks.
Admission is free and there is no charge for the food and refreshments offered. A free-will offering will be accepted in the form of donations to the education foundation.
Marcia Johnson, veteran third grade teacher who has been a coordinator of the American Education Week celebration for the SEA for years, said the education awards “are always really special for the winners, but also really humbling.
“I know this from personal experience that when your name is called as ‘Teacher of the Year’ or the ‘Friend of Education,’ two things really hit you,” Johnson continued. “One, this is an honor that your peers have nominated you for, and then voted for you – and you know how many of them up and down the hallways are just as qualified to receive this. The ‘Friend of Education’ knows that while they’re not a teacher, the teachers see you as a very important part of the education process here.”
Co-chairing the SEA’s education week celebration with Johnson this year is Mary Karr, another third grade teacher.
Fichter, president of the new education foundation, said the group saw the event as an opportunity “to help with recognition for our teachers, support staff and friends of education.
“In future years, we hope this event will grow into a full banquet in the fall of the year, maybe even a ‘gala,’ in celebration of public education,” he said. “It won’t be quite that grand this year, but I think our teachers and support staff will see that our appreciation and support are genuine.”
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