December 2021 Partners in Education Winners

Hats off to our Partners in Education winners for the month of December! The Ohio Lottery recognizes the Teachers of the Month and the Academic All Stars throughout the state who have been working hard in their schools and beyond. Congratulations to December’s winners.

John Evans, fourth-grade student at Almira Academy: “John has exceeded all academic expectations,” says teacher Sharon Lenahan. John currently has all A’s in school and he is a great role model to his classmates and peers. “He shares so much information and goes well above what is expected of him. He is also our class meteorologist and shares his weather report with us daily. He is a model student, and his classmates are so proud of him,” says Lenahan.

Sharon Janiak, kindergarten teacher at Green Valley Elementary School: “Mrs. Janiak is one of the kindest and most dedicated teachers I have ever met,” says parent April Nagorski. “We had the privilege of having her teach all three of our children. Although each of our children were very different in personality, she reached them all in a special way. All three will tell you that she was one of their favorites when they look back at the teachers they have had.” When Janiak was teaching from home, Nagorski was able to get ideas from her. “I hope she will be recognized through this program because the best teachers don’t always get the recognition,” says Nagorski.

Aubree Bates, sixth-grade student at Milton-Union Middle School: Aubree is an “all-around fantastic” student. “She is very conscientious and hard-working,” says teacher Kelly Strick. She volunteers to help others and shows compassion to her fellow classmates.

Sadie Steffan, eighth-grade teacher at Urbana Junior High School: Sadie acts as a teacher, mentor, and coach. “She goes out of her way to build engaging lessons for her students and grow professionally through professional development,” says peer teacher Shane Souders. “Sadie is very open minded and creates a welcoming environment for all of her students. Sadie has dedicated her life to being a life-long learner and to teaching the youth of our community.”

Gracee Schroer, third-grade student at J.F. Burns Elementary School: Gracee works hard in school and as a gymnast, and she was chosen to perform at a halftime show on ESPN. Coach Karol Warden says, “Gracee continues to work hard on gymnastics and schoolwork to be the best she can be!”

Kara Haddix, ninth and tenth-grade English teacher at Western Hills High School: Yolanda Lawson describes Kara as a “model” English teacher. “She is a master at integrating technology and is setting the bar for what a core content area teacher and intervention specialist co-teaching team should look like,” says Lawson. “In one 45-minute class, she effectively and seamlessly uses up to five different applications to engage students, amplify student voice, and open access to content. Her Schoology page is a masterclass on how to engage students asynchronously.”

Lapri Rigsbee, senior at Gahanna Lincoln High School: Lapri is attending the dental program at Eastland Career Center and plans to graduate in May from both schools. She gets straight A’s while working two jobs and recently joined the National Honor Society. She is a mentor and tutor to her nieces and nephew and is described as a leader.

Sue Gumm, fourth through sixth-grade physical education teacher at Toll Gate Middle School: Sue works hard and is dedicated to her students. Principal Michael Kauffeld says, “Sue is a true team player who goes out of her way to make sure every student has a positive experience at school. When challenges present themselves, you will find Sue there with a great attitude, a comforting smile, and words of encouragement.”

Rilyn Haught, senior at River High School: Rilyn is described as a “model student.” She has a high GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society, and participates in the College Credit Plus program. She is an all-star academically and a “standout” volleyball player as well. “Her accolades for her senior year of volleyball include Mid-Ohio Valley All League and District 12, 1st Team,” says Principal Ed Trifonoff. She is a star both academically and athletically. Haught is amazing in class and on the court.

Bob Cicogna, science teacher at River High School: Bob shares many responsibilities at the school. He teaches several science courses such as Chemistry I and II as well as Anatomy and Physiology. He also teaches College Credit Plus courses and organizes the American Red Cross Blood Drive and the food drive. “Many students have given testimonials on how prepared they were for college because of the job Mr. Cicogna did in the classroom,” says Principal Trifonoff.

Madelyn Smerkar, seventh-grade student at James A Garfield Middle School: “Madelyn is a high achieving seventh-grade student who has overcome many obstacles,” says teacher Vanessa Shafer. “She has proven great qualities in academics, leadership, and attitude in the first quarter of this year. Academically, she strives to do her best and is one of the top seventh-grade math students. She demonstrates excellent group collaboration skills by listening to other people’s ideas and contributing to team discussions. She proves her responsibility by seeking assistance when needed and always being prepared for class. Her motivation enables her to persevere to solve problems that are definite challenges. Madelyn is a bright young woman with exemplary behavior and an overall positive attitude that is much admired.”

Haylie Menefee, eighth-grade student at Indian Valley Middle School: Haylie is an outstanding lady with “extraordinary devotion to her studies and personal growth.” She is in Honors Geometry and takes AP French and an advanced English Language Arts class. She is a successful student who demonstrates the skills of a leader and enjoys helping others. Administrator Brandy Grant says, “Our learning community is a better place with her in it!”

James “Blair” Emler, ninth-grade social studies teacher at Indian Valley High School: James engages students through multimedia presentations and innovative lessons, and his lessons are described as informative and easy to understand. “He inspires the young and old around him through both his love of content and the excitement he brings to each class,” says Administrator Jody Ditcher. He is a very respected leader at the school and is a mentor and facilitator for Resident Educators.

Nick Valentino, government teacher at Fairless High School: “Mr. Valentino has a magical way of expressing a value for each of his student’s opinions,” says Administrator Larry Chambliss. “In showing value to each student, he is able to create sense of community which assists his kids in achieving. If a student has personal struggles, Mr. Valentino is approachable. He is this way with fellow colleagues. Along with his sense of warmth, Mr. Valentino manages to set high expectations. His students score ahead of most kids their age.”

Paige Fresch, fourth-grade teacher at Sandusky Intermediate School: She is described as going above and beyond in the classroom. She strives to get both the parents and students involved in the day-to-day learning. She is a dedicated educator.

Congratulations to all our December 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: 1/25/2022 2:00:00 PM


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