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distinguished educator 2010-2011

May 2011 - Kay Serafin


Today we awarded Kay Serafin Kindergarten teacher at Lyle Elementary the Distinguished Educator Award during their school Team Time. Kay has also taught Kindergarten at Whitworth and Morrison Kindergarten.


Here is what Kelly & Mary Buhler (parent and student) and Kathy Skarberg had to say about her:


She is very caring, compassionate teacher, with a wonderful sense of humorShe spends countless extra hours making meaningful, creative and fun activities to help all her children learn.Her classroom is warm, inviting, and filled with her children's' creations.She is a very caring and helpful co-workerShe has mentored many new teachers, sharing her knowledge, ideas and materialsShe is an exceptional teacher (from Kelly, parent and co-worker).

  • She is an outstanding teacher. 

  • She puts in in many extra hours and does far more than what's required of her job

  • She is a loving, caring, thoughtful and sensitive teacher to little children whom many this is their first experience in school

  • She's added much the Kindergarten program in Dallas (from Kathy Skarberg)

  • Mrs. Serafin is nice, calm and lots of funI remember writing in our journals, I really liked painting pictures, like our Christmas trees, and making calendarsI like learning about farms and going to the Rickreall Dairy (from Mary, kindergartner)


Here is what other students had to say about her:

  • Because she is really nice

  • Mrs. Serafin sometimes lets us do fun things and she has gray hair

  • She is the best teacher ever

  • She teaches us stuff

  • She gives us snacks

  • We get to paint stuff

  • We get to play games

  • She is the bestest


Please join us in congratulating Kay Serafin.  Kay is a wonderful teacher, colleague and friend to many. She is kind and caring not only with children, but with her co-workers and friends. I count on her for a smile and word of encouragement each time I see her! 



April 2011 - Mike Hettwer


Today we awarded Mike Hettwer Band Teacher at Dallas High School and LaCreole Middle School the Distinguished Educator Award during one of his Wind Ensemble class at the high school.


Here is what the two students who nominated Mr. Hettwer had to say about him:


He is extremely hard working and dedicated and puts up with more stress and annoyances than any other teacher. He never complains about his workload and always comes with a positive attitude and a smile on his face. He stays calm and rarely gets angry. He connects us to top music schools in the state and the northwest by bringing in college music professors to work with us. Every day I look forward to going to band, not only because I love to play but I love to learn from the best band teacher there is. He often helps us pay for repairs on damaged or broken instruments out of his own pocket because of the lack of budget money. Thanks to him, I am aiming to pursue a career of music after high school.  He is more than a teacher, he is a mentor and a friend. (Andy Kessinger 10th grade)

He give 110% to his teaching. No matter what the weather or what kind of day his students are having he always makes an effort and is successful in brightening up anyone's day through playing music and teaching that there is more to music than just reading notes. His super relaxed personality helps students look forward to festivals and other performing events. He nods and smiles prior to a performance and that helps to keep me calm and rarely do I get nervous. One of the things I love about Mr. Hettwer is that he can play many instruments, it's amazing to watch. I remember being at the annual band retreat and walking into a cabin to find Mr. Hettwer taking his turn with a group of students playing his guitar and singing.  Mr. Hettwer is the reason that I am still in school. There were many times I was ready to give up and drop out, Mr. Hettwer caught wind of that and told me that no matter how hard and hopeless it might seem to keep it up and that the band needed me!  He has made a tremendous impact on my life and I feel that he deserves this important award. (Johnny Kessinger 12th grade)


Here is what his other students had to say about him:

  • The man knows a lot about music

  • He bears with us even when we're not playing great.

  • Never loses his temper.

  • Small amount of discipline.

  • He's a great guy.

  • He has put up with me.

  • He is one of the reasons I am still in school.


Please join us in congratulating Mike Hettwer.  He's an amazing musician, an outstanding educator and a humble and kind man.  During the presentation, I think he was anxious for us to leave so he could keep teaching.  Also congratulations to him as he takes his Wind Ensemble to state!



March 2011 - Barbara Gordon


Today we awarded Barbara Gordon Kindergarten teacher at Oakdale Elementary the Distinguished Educator Award during the Oakdale Team Time.


Here is what Josefine and Emma Smith former students of Mrs. Gordon's had to say about her in their nomination letter:

  • I think Mrs. Gordon should get this award because she is a great teacher

  • She makes me feel happy

  • *he is a great teacher because she taught me how to read

  • She is very calm and she makes learning fun  (from Emma 1st grader at OHE)

  • She is a wonderful teacher

  • Whenever we make a mistake she always encouraged us to do better

  • Mrs. Gordon also has tons of work because she has two classes (morning and afternoon), and she never made us feel sad or angry.

  • Mrs. Gordon is full of surprises. 


One day I walked into class and she had tadpoles we could touch, another day she would surprise us with games.  Around Christmas time we made gingerbread cookies and then she hid   them around Oakdale for us to find.  Those are only a few of the good things she's done for us!   (Josefine Smith, 5th grader at Whitworth)


Here is what her students had to say about her:

  • She is really nice to us

  • She helps us

  • She reads nice to us and stuff

  • She helps us write

  • Mrs. Gordon taught me how to read

  • She makes us happy

  • She taught us to do better when we mess up


Please join us in congratulating Barbara Gordon.  Barbara has is an incredible kindergarten teacher, an advocate for each and every one of her students, and caring and compassionate staff member.  You never find Barbara without a smile and a positive word to each and everyone she meets.



January 2011 - Michelle Nelson


Today we awarded Michelle Nelson, 1st Grade teacher at Lyle Elementary the Distinguished Educator Award during their school Team Time.


Here is what was said about Mrs. Nelson in the nomination letter:

  • Both of my children are excited to learn, she has instilled this character into them at a young age

  • Mrs. Nelson showed my children how to make writing fun and how to work together

  • She extends her instruction well beyond the level expected of children in her grade level

  • She differentiates instruction to meet the needs of all her students no matter where they were at, regardless of ability

  • She is committed to her students

  • She has taught them to be better citizens

  • She provides much needed structure and instills the character traits I want my children to possess.


Here is what her students had to say about her:

  • She makes learning so much fun and is a really good teacher

  • She teaches me so much, that's why I like her so much

  • She is a fun loving teacher and a really good teacher to her students

  • She gives you homework

  • She makes projects fun

  • She helps us read, that why she's a special teacher

  • I like it when she give us math because she makes it fun


Please join us in congratulating Michelle Nelson. Michelle is an amazing teacher and dedicated to her students. In addition, she strives for a better district through her involvement in committee work and professional learning communities. Michelle is also a dedicated volunteer for her own children and was a key leader in the Booster Club Auction.



December 2010 - Debra Wade


Today we awarded Debra Wade who teaches Literacy Enrichment at LaCreole Middle School the Distinguished Educator Award during one of her afternoon classes.


Here is what Kristen Connella, Brett Mackey, Wyatt Sickendick, Mauricio Castanada and Shelbie McCurdy who nominated Debra Wade had to say about her:

  • She has helped us improved our spelling, reading, punctuation and grammar.  At the beginning of the year we were not good readers, I think she has done a fabulous job.

  • Mrs. Wade is a great teacher because if I am stuck on a work she helps me sound it out, she inspired us to read when we really don't want to.

  • Mrs. Wade is the best teacher I ever had in middle school.  I hope she will be my teacher again, she has helped me a lot because I am a better writer and speller now than I was before.

  • Mrs.Wade has helped me learn how to summarize stories, has helped with punctuation and grammar, spelling, writing and how to organize data to write a summary.  My reading and writing levels have gone higher and she helped me improve throughout the whole year.

  • She always looks out for other and she is always waiting for you to get help if it is needed.  She inspires us!


Here is what her other students had to say about her:

  • She looks out for others by making sure students get the help they need.

  • She finds a way to help you learn.  The reading program has worked.

  • She is specific in her teaching and helps us stay on task when we are reading.

  • She is awesome!

  • She explains the work in a way that it isn't so hard.

  • She let's us learn from our mistakes.

  • She is always happy!


Please join us in congratulating Debra Wade. Last year was Debra's first year teaching at LaCreole Middle School. Prior she taught the primary grades. What is amazing about Debra is she took on the challenge of a change in school and grade level and has become an amazing teacher for low level reading students at the middle school.  She has a positive attitude, a quick smile and believes her students can become strong readers.



November 2010 - John Wagner


Today we awarded John Wagner 5th Grade teacher at Whitworth Elementary the Distinguished Educator Award during their school Team Time.


Here is what Maurice Dalton former student of Mr. Wagner and Pam and Jock Dalton his parents had to say about him in their nomination letter:

  • Thank you for making this school year the best one I've had yet!

  • Your clever humor made learning fun and interesting while your knowledge on many topics gave us more information to learn.

  • You didn't have to customize your classroom to give us students a better learning environment or offer a prize for missing persons, but you did. That proves that you went above and beyond what most teachers would do to make the year more enjoyable, and you succeeded in making the year great.

  • I learned a lot and for that I thank you!

  • From the very beginning Mr. Wagner made the kids feel welcome by organizing and building custom desks and book holders for all of his students.

  • He had a huge personal library for his students and often helped with suggestions on what a student might like.

  • We were able to choose a child from a foreign land to sponsor throughout the year, writing letters and receiving letters back.

  • He went above and beyond to make the school experience a great one.


Here is what his students had to say about him:

  • He reads to us all day (well most of the day)

  • He gives us puzzles to figure out

  • When he walks to the front of the room it is like stand up comedy

  • He is an awesome math teacher, he lets us use calculators

  • He reads the bathroom books to us

  • When he reads and there are questions, he lets us figure it out

  • He makes hard work fun.


Please join us in congratulating John Wagner. As many of you know, John is an amazing teacher and dedicated professional. His calm and caring nature and commitment to kids is incredible. He brightens each day with his sense of humor and is an integral part of Whitworth - Team 5!



October 2010 - Debbie Neel


Today we awarded Debbie Neel Language Arts teacher at LaCreole Middle School the Distinguished Educator Award during an assembly in the gym.


Here is what Kaden Montague (former student) and Jared Tesch (colleague) had to say about Mrs. Neel in their nomination letters:

  • She cares about her students

  • She was always there if I needed help

  • She has a passion for Language Arts that influences her students dramatically

  • I learned to love writing in her class

  • She has touched the lives of literally thousands of students

  • Her impact, especially concerning literacy development, has helped students probably more than they will ever know.

  • She is in incredible mentor to new teachers


Here is what her students had to say about her:

  • She is a really good teacher because she brings things down to your level when you don't understand

  • She cares about people

  • When you don't understand something she will explain it in ways that helps you understand

  • I don't have her as a teacher but I have heard lots of good things about her

  • I don't know her but she seems like a good teacher

  • She is one of the best teachers I have ever had and I have had a lot of good teachers!


Please join us in congratulating Debbie Neel who goes above and beyond to mentor other teachers and share her passion for writing with her students. She has high expectations for learning for each and every student, but as her students say she gives them the extra help and support they need to be successful.



October 2010 - Lindsy Weseman


Today we awarded Lindsy Weseman (formerly Perry) teacher at Morrison Campus the Distinguished Educator Award during an assembly in the gym.


Here is what Kelly McKinley, Seyann Chaney and Amanda Morris had to say about Mrs. Weseman in their nomination letters:

  • She has perfected the art of showing her students respect while holding them to the highest level of accountability

  • Her leadership and attention to detail has been a real gift to the school as a whole

  • Her commitment to the kids and dedication to her profession are evident

  • She listens and never judges

  • She is selfless and kind-hearted

  • She comes to school every day with a smile on her face

  • She has always liked community service, and encourages us to do the same


Here is what her students had to say about her:

  • She is there for everyone and supportive of everyone

  • She doesn't let us get away with anything

  • She is a leader and makes us leaders also

  • She is not only our teacher but is also our friend

  • The most caring, supportive teacher ever

  • I second that!

  • Always there for us even with family problems

  • She pushes us to do better with our lives


Please join me in congratulating Lindsy Weseman. She is an awesome educator and teacher and continues to make a vital impact on her students. One of the things I admire most about Lindsy is her passion regarding service above self. She models this to her students everyday, but also expects this same level of service to the community from her students.

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