School district passes out honors at end-of-year luncheon
Tonganoxie schools Superintendent Richard Erickson had plenty of good news to share about the 2006-07 school year at last week's end-of-the-school-year luncheon.
During the luncheon, which was May 29 in the commons area at Tonganoxie Middle School, Erickson recognized several district employees for their work during the past school year.
He also recognized the work of students, noting that Justin Smith was the second National Merit finalist in as many years at Tonganoxie High School, with Micah Titterington achieving the honor the previous year. Erickson also noted that THS senior John Davis earned an impressive score of 34 on his ACT.
Erickson also said he was looking forward to a fresh start in 2007-08. The past school year included a number of issues, including three administrators resigning during the school year.
"This year I am very pleased with the achievements and successes of students and employees," Erickson said. "However this has been one of the most challenging and trying years, and I am ready to put this year behind and move forward in a positive way toward the 2007-08 school year.
"I compliment each and every one of you for your patience, your determination, your focus and your unwillingness to let adversity affect your outstanding work with our students."
Erickson opened the awards ceremony by announcing the Friends of Education winners. The Friends of Education Awards Program is a statewide program that recognizes people and businesses that have made significant contributions to public education.
Erickson recognized school volunteer Melissa Sturgis, Tonganoxie Police Lt. Billy Adcox, Mr. and Mrs. Roger White and the Tonganoxie Historical Society.
Sturgis has served as a volunteer in the school district for several years. She has helped the district by donating empty ink cartridges from the business where she works. In turn, the district receives recycling revenue from the blank cartridges. She also assists with school assemblies and field trips, as well as in the volunteer center and with past Parent Teacher Association activities. Sturgis also has helped serve district employee breakfasts in the past.
Adcox was recognized for his assistance as part of the police force.
Erickson said that Adcox, on many occasions, is the first officer on the scene when police assistance is needed. He also relates to students in a positive way and "has developed a positive rapport with many of the students in the Tonganoxie School District," Erickson said.
Tonganoxie Historical Society, Erickson said, "has provided a great deal of educational program support for USD 464 for a number of years."
The organization has allowed students to utilize its facilities for special events and has played an important role in preserving the history of the school district and the Tonganoxie community, Erickson noted.
Mr. and Mrs. Roger White were the final award winners during this year's Friends of Education presentation.
Mr. White owns a cabinet business and he recently donated a state-of-the-art table saw with several safety features, valued at roughly $4,000, to the Tonganoxie High School industrial arts and building trades programs.
Elementary school teacher Lyn Smith and eighth-grade science instructor John Tollefson were recognized for being the school district's Kansas Teacher of the Year award nominees.
Kindergarten teacher Nancy Gibbens was named a co-recipient of the Outstanding Local Educator Award, as was Denise LaRosh, who teaches freshman English at Tonganoxie High School.
Pam Lamb was named the Outstanding Vocational Educator Award winner.
Kyle Stadalman was this year's Oustanding First Year Teacher award winner. He is a fifth-grade teacher at Tonganoxie Middle School.
Jane Musgrave received the Outstanding Special Educator award.
Board service honored
Ron Moore and Richard Dean were recognized for their work on the Tonganoxie School Board.
Both will finish out their terms this summer.
Moore and Dean have served the past 12 years as board members.
While honoring Ron Moore, Erickson also honored Ron's wife, Margie, who retired this year as the TES computer lab coordinator. She served the past eight school years as the elementary school's computer lab coordinator.
Longtime employees retire
When Erickson called Phil Jeannin forward, the longtime physical education instructor and coach instantly was greeted with a standing ovation.
Jeannin, who has been a teacher in the district for 34 years, will continue as the TMS activities director, a driver's education instructor and TMS track coach.
Erickson relayed a comment he heard from a parent at a TMS track meet this spring.
"That Coach Jeannin sure is a dandy," the person told Erickson. "They don't make 'em like that anymore."
Erickson recognized another staff member who's has been a mainstay in the district.
Shari Curry retired this spring after 37 years as transportation coordinator.
"When the school district made the commitment to own and operate its own bus fleet some nine years ago, Mrs. Curry did an excellent job in overseeing the transition and making sure that students were well served in the process," Erickson said.
Certified workers recognized
Each year, the district honors certified employees who "go above and beyond the call of duty," according to Erickson.
Brenda Firuccia, a longtime bus driver, and Phyllis Wright, lead custodian at THS, were honored.
Firuccia has donated many hours of time in competing in the Kansas Bus Rodeo Competition. She placed fifth in the competition a few years ago.
Erickson praised Wright for the ability to keep THS looking good.
"I am always amazed at the shiny floors and clean conditions that exist at THS under Mrs. Wright's great work and leadership," Erickson said.
Educators moving on
TMS principal Steve Woolf has provided Erickson with "a number of laughs over the years," Erickson said.
Woolf resigned to take the principal's position at Turner Middle School in Kansas City, Kan. Erickson presented Woolf with a plaque for his "excellent service in USD 464" during the past eight years.
Tenth-grade social science teacher Jon Jacques, junior English teacher Josh Hart, computer programming instructor Russ Shields, physics teacher Megan White and at-risk instructor Rebecca White all are leaving the school district. Erickson thanked them for their service.
Jacques is moving to the Oklahoma City area, while Hart is going back to graduate school and Shields to Emporia State University to earn his education degree.
Megan White will be heading to Colorado and Rebecca White is pursuing a career as a vocal music instructor.
Interim administrators Roger Pickerign and Mike Bogart were recognized for their help the past two months at the middle school and high school respectively.
Each year, the Kansas University School of Education recognizes educators who have served in public schools a minimum of 25 years.
TES principal Tammie George and THS foreign language instructor Pam Arevalo were honored for their years in education.