Courtesy of the National Joint Powers Alliance
Area teachers were honored May 13, at the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) Teachers of Excellence Awards Banquet. These teachers, chosen by their school leaders, exemplify commitment, expertise and leadership in teaching.
Among those honored included the following teachers from Little Falls, Swanville and Upsala.
Shawn Alholm from Lincoln Elementary School in Little Falls is a teacher-leader. This year he has expanded technology integration in the school by having live morning announcements. He continues to expand and enhance this morning production. Alholm is also a leader in technology outside of the classroom. He leads teacher discussions each week focused on the integration of technology to enhance lessons. Shawn is creating a culture for using technology in the classrooms.
Several specialist teachers from Lindbergh Elementary School in Little Falls were honored for their work in providing instruction in music, art, physical education and media to K-5 students. Holly Lathe, Jill Seiler, Angie Ireland, Jeremy Stadum and Kristin Haugo-Jones meet in a Professional Learning Community to create lessons to support the learning in the classroom. They have worked extremely hard to integrate literacy, math and other content areas into their lessons while continuing to meet the state standards in their respective areas. The team has also developed activities to increase physical movement throughout the school day.
The Little Falls Community Middle School math department has done exceptional work in the area of curriculum development and alignment. Jennifer McLachlan, Laurie Schoeck, Adam Smieja, Chad Schoeck and Buddy Gau have developed measurable essential outcomes and common assessments. In addition, they have developed an effective process of providing intervention for struggling learners through a partnership with the alternative learning teacher. In addition, the language arts team at the middle school (Mary Dennis, Kevin Hoskins, Sarah Porisch, Kelsi Olson, Kenora Goodrich and Sarah Filippi) has led the way in modeling a quality Professional Learning Community. Their work has included aligning curriculum to standards, creating common assessments, and reviewing student data to adjust their instruction. Their students now receive a more consistently delivered curriculum with measurable essential outcomes.
Mike Huck, Eric Le-Blanc and Andy Ward from Little Falls Community High School are the advisers for the Little Falls Robotics Club and have created a fervor of excitement for robotics in the school. They have taken the first robotics program from its infancy two years ago to a point where 112 students have registered for an Introduction to Robotics class for the 2014-2015 school year. The three of them are directly responsible for increased interest in this STEM program.
Aaron Gapinski of Swanville Elementary is always looking for innovative ideas for his classroom. He is also very caring and seeks ways to reach each student daily by making learning fun and exciting. He is open and willing to learn new ideas and technologies and then share his learning with other staff. He is a professional who genuinely loves his job and demonstrates this daily.
Swanville High School honored Margaret Peterson. Peterson has had to make some very significant changes in her classroom with curriculum and has done so very successfully. She keeps a very close eye on her students and knows when they are struggling. She is quick to work with them and offer extra help and works closely with administration to ensure that all students are successful.
In addition, Jessica Hovland from Upsala High School was honored for her passion and dedication to ensure that each of her math students achieves to the best of their abilities. Hovland consistently reflects on the impact of her instruction and continuously strives to implement instructional strategies that will have a positive impact on student achievement. She creates a learning environment in which the students feel that they can take risks and find success through inquiry.
A total of 31 teachers from 11 schools were honored. The Teachers of Excellence Awards Banquet is just one of many services provided by National Joint Powers Alliance. NJPA is a service cooperative which provides support for schools, counties and cities in five counties: Todd, Wadena, Morrison, Cass and Crow Wing. It is located in Staples.