Warsaw Community Schools announced its 2014 Support and Special Services Employees and Teacher of the Year Monday morning during its “Welcome Back to School and Employees of the Year Recognition” program.
The 2014 Support Employee of the Year is Wendy Harges, secretary, Harrison Elementary; Special Services Employee of the Year is Brenda Linky, secondary special education coordinator; and Teacher of the Year is Betsey Vastbinder, social studies teacher, Lakeview Middle School.
In announcing Linky as the Special Services Employee of the Year, Chief Accountability Officer Dani Barkey said Linky is described by her colleagues as “an expert in the field.” One colleague said, “She knows so much about students, the law and the pulse of the school, and she is so willing to share that knowledge.”
Linky also was described as passionate, professional and encouraging.
“When asked about the corporation’s mission statement, she believes that ‘the word ‘all’ is key ... my job is to guarantee that all staff inspire and equip all students at all times,’” Barkey said.
Linky created Warsaw’s first unified track team where student athletes participate alongside their peers with disabilities to reach a common goal. She also coordinated the first annual “Run, Walk, Roll” event at WCHS in May which highlighted the community’s commitment to support all students.
Harges’ profile was read by Director of Communications and Language Programs Wendy Wildman Long.
“This employee of the year embodies the spirit of our mission,” Long read. “Adjectives used to describe her include ‘insightful, knowledgeable, well-organized, inspiring, dependable, kind, compassionate, uplifting and fun.’ According to a colleague, she ‘emulates warmth, humility and compassion as she serves others and always expresses appreciation for their efforts.’”
Harges is the first person to volunteer when opportunities arise, according to colleagues.
“Her principal says, ‘She is so important to the climate of our school and has the ability to change the mood of upset students, parents and staff. As the school secretary, she knows the name of every student and makes each one feel valued and special,’” Long read.
Vastbinder’s profile was read by Chief Academic Officer David Robertson. It said Vastbinder is described by her colleagues as a “true professional who models integrity to peers and students. She is always calm and delightful. She consistently excels in whatever role she takes on.”
Vastbinder “comes to school each day with the mindset to inspire both her students and her colleagues. She greets students with a smile and works to develop personal relationships with students that enrich the learning process in her classroom as well as their lives. She has a magnanimous enthusiasm for encouraging students to pursue their dreams. She embodies the heart of our mission,” he read.
The profile also stated her influence moves beyond students as she seeks to inspire her colleagues.
One teacher noted, “She challenges me every day to be the best teacher I can be through her creativity, enthusiasm and commitment to excellence. I owe a lot of my success as a professional to working with her.”
2014 WCS Support Employees of the Year from each building are: Rebecca Triggs-Denzer, librarian, Madison Elementary; Sherry Fancil, cafeteria manager, Lakeview Middle School; Bonnie Fox, kindergarten assistant, Claypool Elementary; Erika Groninger, instructional assistant, Washington STEM Academy; Wendy Harges, school secretary, Harrison Elementary; Geri Heagy, registrar, Warsaw Area Career Center; Jill Lowrance, instructional assistant, Eisenhower Elementary; Bertha Mantey, custodian, Leesburg Elementary; Miriam Fabiola Nunez, level technician, ESC; May Jane Prater, driver and driver trainer, transportation department; Kari Rumple, administrative assistant, Gateway Educational Center; Peggy Sellers, administrative assistant, maintenance department; Christine Smith, administrative assistant, Warsaw Community High School; Amy Sutter, school secretary, Jefferson Elementary; Julie Turner, receptionist, Edgewood Middle School; and Ladeen Zielasko, instructional assistant/RTI chair, Lincoln Elementary.
The Special Services Employees of the Year are: Amy Grill, nurse, Jefferson; Brenda Linky, secondary special education coordinator, WCHS/WACC; Angie Madeford, speech/language pathologist, Washington; Joni Moore, mental health therapist, Edgewood; Jill Poynter, nurse, Gateway; Jim Thompson, mental health therapist, Harrison; and Laurel Whetstone, speech/language pathologist, Claypool.
The 2014 WCS Teachers of the Year from each building are: Jay Bolduc, music, Madison; Sandy Carmichael, family and consumer science, WACC; Sharon Gallagher, Title I, Lincoln; Daniel Graney, sixth grade, Harrison; Christopher Hindsley, French, WCHS; Valerie Hutton, kindergarten, Washington; Teresa Jordan, sixth grade, Leesburg; Robin Merrick, music, Eisenhower; Sandra Monce, physical education, Jefferson; Joseph Peloza, band instructor, Edgewood; Jennifer Phillips, special education, Gateway; John Shively, sixth grade, Claypool; and Betsey Vastbinder, social studies seventh grade, Lakeview.