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Tue, Jan. 21

Rotary honors Humboldt District Teachers of the Year

The Prescott Valley Rotary Club has made it an annual pleasure to honor Humboldt School District principal's choices of an outstanding teacher from their respective schools. Last week, the club gathered at the Ramada Resort to recognize outstanding educators for 2000-2001.

While administrators, teachers, guests and students enjoyed dinner, the Bradshaw Mountain High School select Chamber Choir treated them to a variety of acappella vocal music in English, Latin and an African dialect, and special performances by men's and women's quartets. The audience gave the group a standing ovation for their performance.

The crowd also enjoyed an inspirational performance by ventriloquist Gail Wenos, a former teacher who now instructs in a different way, through her "partner" Ezra D. Peabody. Wenos and Ezra hilariously insulted school administrators and Rotary President Elect Ralph Showers, who also happened to be her pastor in Hawaii, while all the while driving home her message of mutual support and respect for the efforts of teachers. The two brought the house down when they tried to coach HUSD Supt. Ron Maughan and Rotary former District Governor and President Ray Meighan in the entire version of "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

This year, Rotary invited students who wrote letters nominating their favorite teachers to read them at the dinner.

Coyote Springs Elementary Principal Marcia Gatti-Smith introduced her Teacher of the Year, Jane McEwan. McEwan began her career with the district in 1982 as a Kindergarten teacher.

"She is professional, an outstanding educator, with a caring, nurturing manner," Gatti-Smith said. One of McEwan's former first grade students, Tracy Barczy, read her letter about one of her favorite teachers.

"…the most important thing Mrs. McEwan taught me was to love school and to love learning, Barczy wrote. "She gave me a solid foundation for the rest of my education, and I loved every minute of it."

Principal Jeannine Young introduced Mountain View Elementary's Teacher of the Year, John Payne, a 5th grade teacher at the school for seven years.

"Two weeks ago we had a conference in the psychological aspects of class management to maximize learning," Young said. "All through the conference, we said, 'That's John Payne.' He's a master in the classrooom."

Student Stacy Lynn Collier read a list of things she likes about her teacher.

"Mr. Payne is really nice and he respects his students. He has a great sense of humor and his stories are the funniest. One of his students graduated from college, and had a choice to choose one of his favorite teachers ever to walk down the aisle with that teacher. That teacher was Mr. Payne. I think it would be an honor to walk with Mr. Payne on my graduation day," she wrote.

Liberty Traditional School introduced Paul Leon as her Teacher of the year. Leon teaches 6th grade math and science, and boy's physical education at the school.

"He served on the comp/tech committee, he coached girl's volleyball and the math challenge, he helps with the computer lab and tutorials," Bergman said. "If I had to pick one word to describe him, it would be 'indispensable.'"

Student Timmy Grzonka wrote of Leon, "…he makes math fun. He made a promise to us people who hate math that 'you may not love math but you will at least like it and not hate it.' And it's not even the end of the year and it has already come true for some kids."

District Special Services Director Kay Turner introduced the Special Education Teacher of the Year, Rosemary Heddens, who has served for 18 years as a special ed teacher.

"She knew since she was nine that she wanted to be a teacher," said Turner. "When her daughter Kirsten was born with Down's Syndrome, Heddens went back to school, and started to teach at Bradshaw High School in 1983. She's one of my mainstays in the department."

Special Education Aide Jackie Stebbins helped student Michelle Walters, who has Downs Syndrome, read a letter she wrote about Heddens.

"I love Mrs. Heddens. She's my favorite teacher I've ever had. She's like a second mother to me. I can read better and do math better because Mrs. Heddens is really a great teacher," Walters wrote.

Other special ed students also had comments about Mrs. Heddens: "She did her best to help me succeed in school," and "If it weren't for Mrs. Heddens I wouldn't be graduating this year."

Shannon Banuelos is Bradshaw Mountain Middle School's Teacher of the Year. Principal Brian Buchholtz introduced her.

"She represents the kids. She provides unconditional love for her kids every day. 'Mrs. B' taught language, math and science at the middle school. She is leaving at the end of this year, and we wanted to honor her before she left," Buchholtz said.

A group of Banuelos's homeroom students compiled a letter about her. "Dear Mrs. B," it reads. "You make learning fun and exciting. We feel appreciated and loved because you take the time to create a positive learning environment. You are a magnificent teacher. We are happy and extremely excited for you, as well as very proud of you!"

Mary Newman is Humboldt Elementary's Teacher of the Year. The 20-year teacher has taught music and PE at Humboldt for nine years. Principal Kim Rice said of Newman, "She has a sense of community, and she is a leader on campus. Words that describe her are 'organized, energetic, creative, hands-on, patient, respectful, and supportive.' Mrs. Newman, a music teacher made a difference in my life. Thank you for the difference you make in the lives of kids."

Student Samantha Cronin wrote of Newman, "She is a 'sooper dooper' teacher. She helps everyone at this school."

Assistant Principal Jim Wells introduced Bradshaw Mountain High School's Teacher of the Year, Robert Lyons. Lyons teaches severely handicapped students at the school.

"He has amazing talent and sincerity," Wells said. "He's the kind of teacher I'd like my daughters to have."

Barbara Isbell, an assistant in the program, and her handicapped son, Ryan, stepped up to honor Lyons.

"I've worked with Robert for two years," Isbell said. "My son is in his class. The fact that he is sitting here looking at the crowd is a testament to Robert. Before, he would just hide his face, but now he'll look and be interested."

Isbell said Lyons never views his severely handicapped students as having reached as far as they can go, but always sees the possibilities for their lives.

Glassford Hill Middle School Principal Kristin Rex introduced her Teacher of the Year, Cheryl Taylor, resource teacher.

"She's a wonderful teacher at Glassford Hill," Rex said. "She has more critters in her classroom than Ellie Mae Clampett. She brought us a grant for a greenhouse project to the school. Her students know responsibility, reality and respect."

Her student wrote of Taylor, "She is always around when I need her. Miss Taylor cares about us. She uses different kinds of animals for us to spend time with and even train. I truly appreciate all Miss Taylor has done for me."

Lake Valley Elementary Principal Bev Harvey introduced her school's Teacher of the Year, Laurie Schreffler, 1st grade.

"She stands out with her quiet competance, gentle countenance, and exceptional instruction skills. She enables children to have success. She has earned the admiration, respect and gratitude of the kids by her love of students," Harvey said.

Austin Bernard wrote of Schreffler, "I think you're nice. You're the bestest teacher in the world. Thanks for teaching me math."

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