March Partners in Education Winners

Luck was all around in March, and we’re lucky to have such dedicated and hard-working students and teachers in Ohio! Check out our March Partners in Education Academic All Stars and Teachers of the Month!

Our first March Academic All Star is Arabella Rodriguez. Arabella is a Kindergartner at Joseph M. Gallagher School. Sue Ellen Tetlak nominated Arabella and said, “Arabella is pure sunshine! [She] attends school each day, participates fully and with enthusiasm and excitement. My special friend has come so far in the last year, working hard to learn her letters and numbers, and that comes from her hard work and listening skills. Arabella is a kind friend to her classmates and is always willing to help anyone that asks.”

Tanya Mittal is our next Academic All Star. Tanya is in the fifth grade at Sylvania Highland Elementary School. She is described as a “passionate student” who is “dedicated, responsible, organized, and truly cares about learning and growing.” Other teachers describe Tanya as “enjoyable, intelligent, responsible, and helpful.” Tanya started Student Council and used that platform to expand the school’s recycling program. She is known as a “true leader in the classroom.”

Elena Policastro is in the fourth grade at St. Columban School and is a March Academic All Star! Elena is an honor student and a competitive athlete. She participates in soccer, basketball, diving, and gymnastics. She is also known for her kindness. Her coach Karol Warden nominated Elena and said, “Elena is quiet but very driven to excel.”

Our next Academic All Star is Kamaryn Reedus. Kamaryn is in the eighth grade at Lakeview Jr. High School. She excels academically, is a student athlete, and volunteers as a peer helper. Leanne Ross nominated Kamaryn and said, “Kamaryn is a bundle of positive energy who is not afraid to speak up for what is right. She stands out as an intelligent, thoughtful, assertive and strong young woman who is fiercely protective of the rights of others.”

Derek Steedley is another March Academic All Star. Derek is in the eighth grade at Hyre Community Learning Center. He is known for his “excellence and dedication to his education.” Larry Bender nominated Derek and said, “He has learned to adapt his educational levels to ensure success for his own learning. He is dedicated to ensuring that he reaches his goals in life and is determined to make his goals a reality.”

Our last Academic All Star is Octavia Schnittker. Octavia is a senior at Perkins High School. She is known for her “amazing work ethic.” Outside of the classroom, Octavia is involved is a variety of extracurricular activities and is an active volunteer in her community. Ashlie Gowitzka nominated Octavia and said, “Octavia is one of the brightest students I have had the pleasure of teaching. She takes our most rigorous courses and has the intrinsic motivation to perform exceptionally well in them. She truly strives to understand the topics she is studying. I have no doubt that she is going to go on to have a bright future in college and career.”

Our first March Teacher of the Month is Amanda Dacek. Amanda teaches third grade at Green Valley School. She is known for going above and beyond for her students. April Nagorski has a child in her classroom and nominated Amanda for Teacher of the Month. April said, “My son had her last year during the COVID-19 shut down. She would create YouTube videos to keep constant communication with the students. She read stories, did mini lessons, and reassured the students that everything would be okay! This year, my daughter is blessed to also have Ms. Dacek. She has continued to make sure students are learning while feeling safe. Whether it is virtual or hybrid, her communication with students and families is top notch.”

Josh Heidebrink is our next Teacher of the Month. Josh teaches Physical Education for grades K-6 at Northwood Elementary School. He is known for doing “a wonderful job motivating his students and keeping them fully engaged.” Jason Kozina nominated Josh and said, “Mr. Heidebrink has brought energy and enthusiasm to Northwood Elementary School’s physical education classroom this year. He has students excited about attending his class, all while making changes to accommodate COVID protocols.”

Ericka Hamilton is our next Teacher of the Month. Ericka teaches third grade at Lagonda Elementary School. She is described as the “gold standard” by her colleagues. Not only is she dedicated to her students’ education, she is also improving her own knowledge and expertise by completing her Master of Educational Leadership. Joshua Harning nominated Ericka and said, “She is coachable and willing to listen to constructive criticism from any individual, even her students! She works more hours than there are in a day, and more days than there are in a week. She tailors her teaching to meet all of her students’ needs and never gives up on a student, even if they struggle academically.”

Our next Teacher of the Month is Mike Dunlap. Mike teaches Science for grades 9-12 at Loveland High School. Outside of the classroom, Mike is also the school’s soccer coach. With his coaching, the team has won back-to-back soccer league championships, and Mike has been named Coach of the Year for the last three years. He has helped his student athletes obtain scholarships so they can continue their education and play at the next level. Karol Warden nominated Mike and said, “Mike goes out of his way to make learning Fun! Mike is exceptional in both the classroom as a teacher and on the soccer field as a coach.”

Elizabeth Chaffin teaches third grade at Northwood Elementary School and is a March Teacher of the Month! Elizabeth is known for working hard to support the students in her class. Karen Wells nominated Elizabeth and said, “While in Liz’s class, all students grow. Mrs. Chaffin works to be sure every child in her class feels welcomed and accepted. Liz is by far on of the most dedicated teachers I have ever met.”

Fred Johnson is our next Teacher of the Month. Fred teaches sixth grade Science at Manchester Middle School. Along with teaching in the classroom, Fred coaches the school’s track and cross-country teams. He also manages a Soap Box Derby team and the Boy Scouts. His classroom is described as “fun and energetic.”

Valerie Maxwell is our next March Teacher of the Month. Valerie teaches third grade at East Elementary School. Valerie is known for her “warm, enthusiastic personality, strong work ethic, drive for self-improvement and caring qualities.” Outside of the classroom, Valerie is on the District Leadership Team, Building Leadership Team and serves as her building’s Head Teacher. Zach Zesiger nominated Valerie and said, “Mrs. Maxwell’s instructional leadership, passion for learning, respect for students, ability to build a sense of community and belonging in her classroom, high expectations for all students regardless of their ability, passion for teaching, flexibility, constant collaboration with colleagues, and positivity makes her an outstanding teacher. Mrs. Maxwell sets high expectations for all her students, exhibits a deep knowledge of the content being taught, and most importantly always puts kids first! She is able to engage students in the learning process if a variety of fun ways.”

Our last March Teacher of the Month is Michelle Smith. Michelle teaches fourth grade Math at Dowds Elementary School. Michelle is known as an “energetic and inspiring teacher” who is always willing to help out. Kristin Kaple-Jones nominated Michelle and said, “She challenges her students to be deep math thinkers and sets high expectations for their behavior and work ethic. Mrs. Smith works hard to ensure that students love math and just being at school, making her classroom a welcoming place for every child. She goes out of her way to give every student what they need and is a leader in our school community.”

Congratulations to all of our March Partners in Education winners! You can nominate an outstanding student or teacher for Academic All Star and Teacher of the Month online by Clicking Here. Nominations are due by 5:00 p.m. on the 10th of every month.
Posted: 4/15/2021 3:00:00 PM

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