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Distinguished Educator 2007-2008

January 2008 - Linda Ellingson

Linda Ellingson (far right,) Kindergarten Teacher at Lyle Elementary School was awarded the first Distinguished Educator Award. Linda was nominated by Dawn Rocak who had a child in Linda's classroom last school year. Linda was presented this award by the committee during her afternoon kindergarten session. She was given a Distinguished Educator plaque and a $25 gift certificate for Washington Street. She will also be honored at an awards ceremony in June with five other Distinguished Educators.


A couple quotes from the nomination letter:

  • Linda Ellingson is an exceptional teacher.

  • She is one of those that has found their true calling in life.

  • A good teacher will be remembered fondly for a long time, but a great teacher will touch our lives forever. Linda is a great teacher.


Special thanks to Jeff Laeng, Avenue Mortgage and Mitch Ratzlaff, State Farm Insurance for their inspiration behind developing a program for honoring exceptional educators in Dallas School District.


February 2008 - Janelle Ussery

Today, February 8, 2008, we had the privilege of awarding our second Distinguished Educator Award to Janelle Ussery, Biology Teacher at Dallas High School. Janelle was nominated by Jenni Anderson, DHS student and her mom Chris Anderson. A quote from Jenni:

“In Mrs Ussery’s class we’re not just filling in the lines.
She’s teaching us how to make our own lines...
how to ask questions and how to make our own conclusions.”


Here's what Janelle's students said about her:

  • Biology is her life

  • She puts everything into her class

  • She makes an effort to get to know all of her students

  • Mrs. Ussery explains things so you never feel stupid

  • I admire the way she makes everyone feel comfortable

  • She drops everything to answer questions

  • She looks at all sides of learning with you

  • I appreciate the effort she puts into her lessons

  • She is so incredibly efficient and takes the time to get things done quickly

  • She really cares about us

  • I love her passion


Please join us in congratulating Janelle. She is an awesome and dedicated educator who exemplifies the mission of this award


March 2008 - Renay Barnes

March 2008 - Today we awarded our third Distinguished Educator Award to Renay Barnes, Science Teacher at LaCreole Middle School. Renay was presented a plaque, the nomination letter and a gift certification to Washington Street Steakhouse.

Mrs. Barnes was nominated by her 4th period student Roquelle.

Here's what Roquelle had to say about her:

"Mrs. Barnes always seems to thoroughly enjoy having us as students. It never seems like anything ever throws her day off because she is constantly smiling. . . .I've been to a lot of schools in my young life and none have been as lucky as LaCreole to have a teacher like her. "Off" days have turned to "on" days for me because she makes it seem like the sun is shining in Dallas 24-7.


This is what her students had to say about Mrs. Barnes:

  • she makes the labs fun

  • she makes sure we have the materials we need to do our work

  • makes me giggle

  • she knows how to explain things so we get it

  • fun to be around

  • she asks us how our weekends went

  • she doesn't give up on us

  • she is always smiling

  • always has a smile in the hallway


Please join us in Congratulation Renay Barnes - one of our many incredible educators in Dallas School District



April 4, 2008 - Phil Osborn


April 4, 2008- Today we gave the Distinguished Educator Award to Phil Osborn, Math teacher at LaCreole Middle School. Josh Spencer, one of Mr. Osborn's 4th period math students nominated Mr. Osborn for this award.

Here is what Josh had to say about him:

At the end of 7th grade I learned that I would be taking an advanced algebra class. I was very nervous. I then talked to one of my friends who had taken the class. He said that it was a very challenging course. At the beginning of the year I wasn't really looking forward to math. During the year, Mr. Osborn has taught me on my own level. He has helped me through a tough subject of mine. He has turned a hard class into one of my favorite subjects.


This is what Phil's students have to say about him:

  • He is very straightforward

  • He makes us work to our potential

  • He is funny!

  • He makes sure you know how to do the work and explains it very well

  • He doesn't hesitate to help

  • He is fair

  • He always listens to what we say about the lessons

  • He jokes around with us


Please join us in congratulating Phil Osborn one of our exceptional educators in Dallas School District. It was an honor to present this award to him today!



April 25, 2008 - Amy Ebner


April 25, 2008- Today we awarded Amy Ebner, 5th grade teacher at Oakdale Heights the Distinguished Educator Award for April. Amy has taught at Oakdale Heights since 1998.

Two of her students, Keisha Sickles and Robyn Weiser nominated her for this award.


Here's what her students had to say about her:

  • She has a great attitude

  • When we need help, she will always help us

  • She is funny

  • I moved here recently, she helped me get acquainted

  • She teases us

Here's what Keisha and Robyn had to say about her:

  • She is fun on spirit days like when she wore a hot pink wig and purple eyelashes

  • When we were studying the circulatory and muscular system we didn't understand it, but she helped us and now we get it

  • We are doing speeches and she lets us dress up like characters . . . it is fun

  • When we have trouble in math, she will help us. She doesn't get mad if we don't understand, only if we don't try.


Please join us in congratulating Amy! She is an awesome educator and extremely passionate about her work with her students.



May 12, 2008 - Jena Vessell


May 12, 2008- Today we honored Jena Vessell, 4th Grade Teacher at Whitworth Elementary School. For those of you that know Jena, she is a quiet force and an exceptional educator. Any student would benefit from being in her classroom. Jena was nominated by parent Sandy Teal who has a 4th grade student in Jena's classroom.


Here's what Sandy had to say about her:

  • Mrs. Vessell's love of teaching and being with her class show in all the daily things she does for them. She is kind and encouraging, yet keeps control over them in a way that earns their respect.

  • Mrs Vessell has a full class of kids, and yet somehow she is able to give care and tenderness to each and every one. She has a gift of knowing what each of her students need.

  • She has a wonderful, kind spirit, and a great sense of humor, which shows through in her teaching. She is the most wonderful teacher!

Here is what her students had to say about her:

  • she helps us

  • she lets us do science experiments

  • she is really fun

  • she listens to us

  • she gives us good grades

  • sometimes we get extra recess

  • she never yells

  • she makes learning fun

  • once we were doing a science experiment that smelled bad and she said "that's the smell of science"

  • she is the best teacher I have ever had


Please join us in honoring Jena as our Distinguished Educator for the month of May. Jena you rock!!!! ("You rock" is the highest compliment if it comes from Mrs. Vessell) :-)


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