The 27J Board of Education has recognized 11 School District employees who are as creative in their classrooms as “Inventor Extraordinaires.” Each person was honored for coming up with ideas to create better learning environments in classrooms and schools. Eight 27J teachers and three district classified employees were honored at the Jan. 24 board meeting.
Congratulations to Overland Trail Middle School teachers Misty Ebers and Marcel Martin who received the Team Inventor Extraordinaire award. This team has organized a spring school musical for five years. This year they will present “The Lion King” in March. Ebers is the Band and Choir Teacher and Martin is a sixth grade Social Studies Teacher.
“They are hand beading African style belts and jewelry and teaching students how to do it for the Lion King production,” said Overland Trail Teacher Jennifer Federocko, who nominated them. “These women are so dedicated to what they’re doing that they took a trip to New York City over Christmas break, just to see The Lion King on Broadway, so they could pull more ideas for the show here at school.”
Six other teachers were recognized with Inventor Extraordinaire awards by the 27J Board of Education. They are: Cole Bielak, a technology teacher at Prairie View Middle School; Prairie View High School Engineering teacher Tami Hart; South Elementary Music Teacher Michelle Jeffres; Vikan Special Education Teacher Amy Parks-Quin; South Teacher Dina Prince and Brantner Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Keisha Perry.
Bielak has enhanced the technology program for students. “The new technology use has been amazing to watch and you can tell he is passionate about the work because the kids are super excited to be doing it,” according to PVMS Art Teacher Nathan Shaver, who nominated him.
Teacher Tami Hart learned to weld to create new, triangle-shaped desks in her classroom. “Tami coated all the desk tops with whiteboard paint, so students can sketch ideas and take notes on the desks,” said Elizabeth Castor, PVHS Art Teacher, who nominated her.
“Michelle Jeffres takes music performances to a whole new level,” said Donna Spier, Special Education Teacher at South, who nominated Jeffres. “Michelle invents parts for every student with no child left out regardless of their academic and/or physical abilities. For some this may be the only time that they are in a school play or performance.”
“Amy Parks-Quin is an Inventor Extraordinaire because that is what she has had to do from the first day we hired her,” said Vikan Principal Trina Norris-Buck. She started a Middle Level Center-Based Autism Program last August. “She designed the room, created structures and processes for her students in her classroom.”
Several parents of students in Keisha Perry’s Kindergarten classroom at Brantner Elementary nominated this teacher. “Her love of teaching is undeniable,” said Liz Johnson, a Brantner parent. “Ms. Perry is an excellent choice for this award,” said Melanie Heisick, a Brantner parent. “She has so many fun and inventive ideas for the kids each day.”
South Teacher Dina Prince was nominated by the South Elementary Kindergarten team. “Mrs. Prince teaches English Language Learners kindergarten students. Before her students enter the classroom they are already facing the challenge of being a second language learner. She works hard to provide the instruction her students need,” her nomination form reads. “She is a vital team member to the kindergarten team.”
Three other 27J employees were also recognized: Amanda Buchanan, Kindergarten Paraprofessional at Southeast Elementary; Wendy Ramsburge, Prairie View High School Paraprofessional; and Maria Garcia, Vikan Middle School Office Manager.
“Amanda is consistently coming up with better ways to do things,” said Alicia Banuelos, Southeast Kindergarten Teacher, who nominated her. “She has developed games and learning activities to reach those students who need a little extra help to reach their learning goals.”
“Wendy moved into a new position of coordinating all the testing information for our school,” said her nominator Margaret Morrow. “For several years, she managed all of the scheduling for IEP meetings. She created several tools to organize this task for over 200 qualifying students, their families and their teacher teams.”
“Maria Garcia is an Inventor Extraordinaire because she is always thinking of more efficient and effective ways of doing things,” said Vikan Principal Trina Norris-Buck.