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Annual Staff Recognition program rewards excellence and service across ISD 882

Immediately on the heels of the 2018-19 school year, educators from across the district gathered at Monticello High School Wednesday afternoon to celebrate each other and the successes of the school year at the Staff Recognition Event.

The annual all staff ceremony offers the chance to honor retirees and recognize selected staff members for their excellence during the most recent school year, as well as the opportunity for the superintendent to address the district before sending many staff members off for the summer.

One of the first celebrations at the event was for years of service in the district. All staff members that had registered milestone years of service, beginning at 10 years, were recognized by group.

Following that, the district honored 20 retirees during the ceremony, with many in attendance to say farewell to their fellow educators and friends. The district wishes a happy retirement, and deep gratitude to the following educators:

Vicki Anderson, Audiologist

Sandra Clemmons, Title I/Paraprofessional

Alison Conrad, Physical Therapist

Delbert Dahlheimber, Custodian

Lori Derus, Occupational Therapist

Cindy Graham, Reading Specialist

Gail Grieme, 2nd Grade Teacher

Annette Haller, Paraprofessional

Cindee Hoberg, Counselor

Deanna Hoffman, ECSE Teacher

Tracie Kettler, Paraprofessional

Diana Loeffler, Secretary

Cheryl Meinhardt, B-3 Teacher

Denise Merritt, Art Teacher

Patti Myrum, Physical Therapist

Debbie Patrick, 3rd Grade Teacher

Kathy Reeves, Paraprofessional

Deb Stacken, Science Teacher

Mona Voelker, B-3 Teacher

Randy Yager, Head Custodian

Following the retiree recognition, was the opportunity to recognize a select few outstanding educators with Outstanding Service Awards.

The first honoree came from the high school, as fellow physical education teachers presented the Outstanding Service Award to Brad Hanson. Hanson’s peers commended him for his dedication to education, his willingness to take on a wide variety of roles within the district (including teaching physical education at every grade level in the district during his tenure, operating as the voice of Magic baseball, and a coach across sports), and his attributes as a genuinely kind person and a great listener.

Little Mountain Elementary fifth-grade teacher Kim Nygaard was the second staff member tabbed for Outstanding Service Award. Nygaard was recognized for her unmatched commitment to giving every student exactly what they need, and for pushing for the best from herself, from (and for) her students and her peers, both in the classroom and in athletics. Jen Kopff’s emotional tribute emphasized that Nygaard doesn’t just look out for students in academics, but their social and emotional needs as well, and noted that she would never back down from a challenge, but rather, continues to excel in the face of them.

Monticello Middle School staff members honored Head Custodian Dave Filip as a 2018-19 Outstanding Service Award winner. Filip was recognized as someone who is inventive, creative, and dedicated, finding ways to work with and accommodate everyone from students to teachers to the community. Called “a bulldog” for the middle school, Filip was acknowledged for his work in helping the middle school through several years of construction, as well as solving and repairing countless other problems over the years. The ultimate team player, Filip earned the award for always going above and beyond to create the best possible educational environment for Monticello students and staff each and every day.

Nathan Rowe, school psychologist, was selected as an Outstanding Service Award winner from the Sherburne Northern Wright Cooperative. Coworkers credited Rowe for his ability to connect with students and staff, to have fun, to make students feel comfortable, and to make education and improvement approachable. Rowe was also praised for his ability to work across buildings and with students of all ages, including his work with Unified at MHS. In addition to his work with students, and the impact he has on them, coworkers noted how appreciated Rowe is as a kind, caring coworker, resource, and friend.

The fifth Outstanding Service Award of the day went to Tara Wilson, EBD teacher at Monticello Middle School. Wilson was credited for her amazing dedication to students, her dependability, and her relaxed demeanor, which rubs off on both students and staff. She’s eager to pitch in and help plan staff events, and is instrumental in creating a community atmosphere amongst educators. Wilson was recognized as someone that sets lofty goals for herself and her students, and consistently achieves them.

The final Outstanding Service Award of the program went to EEC kindergarten teacher Cindy Witschen. Witschen is recognized across the district as one of the hardest workers in education, putting long hours in every day to be fully prepared to give her students everything they need and deserve on a daily basis. Witschen was also credited for her unmatched care for her students, with presenters noting that she has previously bought groceries, rode the bus, bought a Christmas tree, and more, all to help students who needed it.

The last honor of the afternoon was the annual Friend of Education award, typically given to one of the numerous volunteers that dedicate countless hours to helping out around the district. This year, the award came with a special twist. For the first time in its existence, it was given to a student in ISD 882.

The Friend of Education award went to Gavin Nelson, the recently graduated senior from Monticello High School. Nelson, a star member of the MHS AV Club, and a leader in countless ways, was selected for the immeasurable amount of time he has given back through volunteering to provide tech help at school and community events. In a fitting anecdote, Luke Feierabend shared a story that Nelson graduated Friday night, worked Saturday and Sunday, and showed up at 7 a.m. Monday in Feierabend’s classroom. When asked what he was doing there, he said simply “I’m here to help.”

Nelson’s dedication to his craft, his innovation, his work in getting streaming going for Magic sporting events, as well as film production for other big district events, and his ability to do all of it with incredible kindness and care for each and every person he worked with, all played into his selection as the first-ever student to receive the Friends of Education Award from ISD 882.

To all honored educators and friends of education, congratulations, and thank you for your service!