Every year the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly looks forward to honoring our amazing educators in northeast Indiana through our annual Education Awards. This gives us an opportunity to really show our appreciation to the educators in our area who are making a difference in the lives of the youth in our communities and see the impact they are making.
Educators in 16 categories were honored in 2018. Newspaper staff members traveled throughout the readership area to personally deliver the awards.
The honorees were selected by a panel of judges from nominations submitted online. Judges chose the awardees based on how compelling the statements were.
The following are the class of 2018 Business Weekly Education Award Winners.
• Teacher of the Year. Anthony Kline, Trine University
Teacher of the Year is a category that is defined as being awarded to an outstanding educator in any field. This year we chose Tony Kline. We learned through his nomination that he has created a website that unites former students with respected educators from across the country to share their best teaching practices. One alumnus had the following to say about him: “When I think about the educator and leader I want to be some day, I think of Dr. Kline."
• Lifetime Achievement Award. Tim Tyler, Trine University
The Lifetime Achievement Award is only given to those who have been teaching for more than 20 years. Tim Tyler has been at Trine University for 23 years and chairing his department for 3 of those years. His efforts have not only made an impact there, but he has led a group of Trine students to Ecuador to help develop designs for a new water system that will allow a town there to have access to clean water. Students describe him as knowledgeable, confident, helpful, and respectful. Fellow educators describe him as “the most beloved educator in the Allen School of Engineering and Technology.”
• Early Childhood Teacher of the Year. Megan Lemert, Leap-N-Learn Preschool
Dropping off one’s child at preschool for the first time can be scary for a parent. Parents of a child in Megan Lemert’s class say that she took time out of every day to ease their child’s nerves about being in a new place. “The way that I saw Miss Megan care for my child and ease his fears over the first few weeks, I knew that my son was in the right place and that Miss Megan was the perfect teacher for him. When your child continually asks to go back to school to be with his teacher, that means that the teacher is creating the best atmosphere for your child. I don’t think that my son would have the love for learning and school as he does now if it were not for Miss Megan’s care and compassion to make him feel at home.”
• Language Arts Teacher of the Year. Jeanette Goddard, Trine University
We are told that Jeanette Goddard is great at keeping the class engaged while maintaining a positive and encouraging atmosphere for everyone. She is dedicated to teaching her students — always available for them and challenging them to push themselves, further examining topics from other perspectives.
• Social Studies Teacher of the Year. Michael Blaz, Trine University
Michael Blaz has had a distinguished career at Tri-State and Trine University over the past 40 years and is known for being knowledgeable, passionate, friendly and thorough. His nomination also stated that he is a dedicated teacher who is always excited to try new things.
• Music/Performing Arts Teacher of the Year. Orene Colcord, Ivy Tech Community College
Orene is described as full of personality, bold, creative and opinionated. In her nomination, a former student had the following to say: "Orene’s extensive career background in theater is inspiring and her dedication and interest in her craft is contagious. She encourages students to step outside of their comfort zones in order to learn and have a positive classroom experience.”
• Fine Arts Teacher of the Year. Ashlee Stephens, Lima-Brighton Elementary School
One reason we chose to honor Ashlee Stephens this year is because she is always willing to help with whatever needs to be done. From her nomination, we learned that includes being a great role model for everyone in how to treat all students and teachers equally. She strives to make every student the best they can be by building their confidence in themselves so that they can thrive. She works hard to support everyone and her students are always excited to take their projects home and show them to their families.
• Teaching Excellence in Sports. Catherine Benson, Trine University
Students say Professor Benson provides hands-on, real-world experiences and that her classroom is positive, interactive and always fun. Her nomination also pointed out she is the ultimate professional and that she is a model for others to follow.
• Counselor/Student Advocate. Tracy Rozier, Northrop High School
Tracy is known for her ability to put a smile on anyone's face and always make you feel welcome and at home in her presence. One student wrote that Tracy “advocates for her students and sees their bright future, even if they don't.”
• Mathematics Teacher of the Year. Doug Menz, Lakeland Middle School
Doug Menz is passionate about teaching, but more importantly, he is passionate about student learning and will go above and beyond to put students and their education first. He opens his classroom to students who need extra help or support by providing them with one-on-one attention. Doug creates a great learning atmosphere for his students and prides himself on building his relationships with each student to help them reach their full potential.
• Foreign Language Arts Teacher of the Year. Josh Kellenberger, Snider High School
Josh Kellenberger is known for creating a fun environment of singing songs and playing fun, educational games to help students learn the German language. The most notable things about this teacher are his inability to give up on people, even when they have given up on themselves, and create an atmosphere where students want to be in his classroom and learn with him.
• Science Teacher of the Year. Laura Taylor, Fremont High School
At the expense of her own time, Laura Taylor is taking graduate level physics courses so that she can continue providing dual credit physics to her students. The school corporation does not reward teachers financially for attaining advanced certifications, but as usual, Mrs. Taylor is going well above and beyond expectations to provide Fremont students with the best science education.
• Innovation in Teaching Award. Tammi Hicks, West Noble Primary
Tammi Hicks is described as being a great resource for all her teammates and a visionary who is always willing to help others be great educators. Tammi’s students are always eager to start the day and enter her classroom with smiles on their faces.
• Emerging Star Award. Lisa McDougle, the Learning Community
From her nomination, we learned that Lisa McDougle is a positive ray of sunshine every day and that you can truly feel she is excited to be a part of each child's life. Lisa has not only made an impact on the lives of the children that she teaches every day, but also their families who trust their children to Lisa's care. Families continue to return to the Learning Community and ask for their children to be a part of Lisa's class, and that speaks volumes to who she is as an educator and the impact that she is making around her.
• Administrator/Principal of the Year. John Houser, Wayne High School
“He is not just interested in how we are at work, but how we are as a person," said the team who nominated him. "He genuinely cares about each person as an individual. He wants his teachers to succeed in their careers and is determined to create student success for every student.”
• Leadership Award. Joe Messer, Manchester University
Joe Messer’s prior students have been quoted as saying, “Professor Messer, you constantly inspire me and you truly changed the way I see many things. I appreciate your honesty and how you always relate everything we learn in a way and situation that we would understand and relate to. You are the best person ever!” These remarks are common for Professor Messer to have every semester and he always has some of the highest course evaluations from his students.