At the May 12, 2021 Regular Meeting of the Board of Education the following individuals were recognized for helping to make Washington Township a Superior School District.
1. The Bezos Scholars Program (BSP) is proud to announce North Central High School student Sawyer Husain and educator Tom Gayda as part of the 2021 Scholars cohort. The Bezos Scholars Program inspires and challenges young people to address issues they are passionate about in their communities. Sawyer is passionate about sustainable development and facilitating urban growth with a focus on environmental impact. He believes finding sustainable solutions and alternatives in construction and urban development is the key to helping our planet. He said, “I am excited to grow my ability to create change, and learn how to lead others to do the same alongside such a diverse group.” Sawyer has raised more than $100,000 for charities during high school, helped lead a congressional campaign, captained varsity track and cross-country teams, and sits as the chair of development on the Caroline Symmes Endowment Board. Tom is the 2018 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year; in 2017, he was WT’s teacher of the year. He serves as president of the Ball State Department of Journalism Alumni Society. Tom is passionate about building relationships and understandings between people of different backgrounds to best bring different cultures together. Congratulations to you both on this amazing accomplishment!
2. Congratulations to North Central’s valedictorian and State Tennis Singles Champion, Ajay Mahenthiran as he has been named an Indiana Academic All-Star. Forty high school seniors from throughout Indiana have been named 2021 Indiana Academic All-Stars, a program of the Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP). Academic All-Stars were selected from a field of 270 outstanding nominees from the state’s private and public accredited schools. Academic All-Star distinction recognizes seniors who excel in the classroom first and foremost, but who also are actively involved in their schools and communities, and take on leadership roles in those activities. Again, congratulations on all your accomplishments thus far and we look forward to hearing about your successful future!
3. Congratulations to Willow Lake Elementary teacher Ms. Jennifer Burkhead! Jennifer has been selected as a 2021-2022 Armstrong Teacher Educator Awardee from the Indiana University School of Education. This award recognizes outstanding teachers across Indiana with the intent to bring awardees to the IU-Bloomington campus to interact with students and faculty through a variety of interactions. IU is extremely excited to work with Jennifer over the next year and have her engage with their students and faculty. Again, congratulations on your award and we are extremely proud to have you as part of our Washington Township Schools staff! Best of luck to you!
4. Golden Apple Award – Child Nutrition Department – In early January 2021, Indiana school food service programs were challenged by the School and Nutrition department at the Indiana Department of Education to demonstrate and, when necessary, make improvements in nutritional quality and freshness of menus created·to serve local school children. Good nutrition is always extremely important, but especially so during a nationwide pandemic. IDOE is happy to announce that the food service staff of MSD Washington Township Schools welcomed this challenge and are hereby presented the Gold Level award, the Golden Apple Award. With us this evening we have from the Child Nutrition Department, Annette Guenther, Supervisor, Debbie Eggert, Assistant Supervisor, Bonnie Stone, Production Coordinator and Susan McCord, Service Coordinator. Congratulations ladies, we are extremely proud of this team and all the support you provide to our district!
Tom Lange, nominated by Schools Division Tom Lange and his volunteer group provided virtual tutoring to many of our students during our virtual learning and continued when we came back in person. When students needed tutors, Tom was always on call. He wants to expand this program every year and get more volunteers to help the students in WT!
Nora Neighborhood Ambassadors, Debi Alexander and Erin Cosler, nominated by Nora Elementary School
Nora Neighborhood Ambassadors has helped numerous families with housing issues at Lakeside Pointe. Arranged a food distribution for 100 families in February living at Lakeside Pointe. Set-up once a week tutoring and once week all day support to families during virtual learning where kids (all grades) could come and get support and assistance with assignments and virtual lessons. They have also helped support Nora when we have families in need – gathering donations of food, clothing, furniture, and household items. Their work over the past year has been an immense support to the Nora and MSDWT community and they continue to look for ways to expand their reach. They have gone above and beyond during this difficult year.
5. Superintendent Service Awards –The Superintendent’s Service Award is given to an individual, group or organization that has shown extraordinary support to teaching and learning in Washington Township during the school year. This year I would like to recognize the following outstanding supports to our schools.
Jan Millholland, nominated by Willow Lake Elementary School Jan is a volunteer for Second Pres. Church and facilitates many resources to our Westside schools. She has started a food pantry at WE and GB, provided grant money for teachers, virtual learning supplies and coats/shoes. She is always willing to meet the needs of our students.
Ellie Schmink, Jordan YMCA, nominated by True North Ellie and her team at the YMCA are in consistent communication and collaboration with MSDWT so as to be support our school community. This was witnessed at a whole new level during this past year and the pandemic. Even in the midst of their own challenges, trials, and tribulations they continuously reached out to extend support while creating opportunities that reflected our ever-changing needs.
North Central PTO, Emily Kaiser and Kenda Friend, nominated by North Central High School This group of dedicated parents constantly looked for ways to celebrate and support North Central teachers. From free coffee bars, smoothie stations, notes of support, NC picture frames to notifications of gratitude, these parents made every effort to support those who supported their children.
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Rev. Caldwell-Gross – nominated by Spring Mill Elementary School Adopting teacher classrooms with a 2,000 individual award for five teachers. Extremely generous especially during a global pandemic.
Grace Church, Pastor Yonan, nominated by Northview Middle School Over the past 2 years, Grace Church has assisted the NV PTO in numerous ways. They have provided chicken during teacher appreciation week and also helped to provide coffee for the whole staff as a “mid-year pick me up.” We appreciate their willingness to assist our PTO!
Pastor Yonan wasn’t able to be with us this evening but we would like to share some kinds words he shared in an email to our district —
“Thanks so much for reaching out to me and letting me know of this incredible honor. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to join you that evening in light of an important prior commitment.
Each of you is on the front line of care for the next generation, often being the ones who speak life and hope in ways that are wonderfully transformative! You are truly my heroes!”
2020 PAC Leadership, nominated by Operations
Those highlighted in yellow will be in attendance:
T. Ray Phillips
Liane Groth Hulka
Matt Tait Huge endeavor, enormous number of volunteer hours – Success could not have been possible without their leadership and dedication to the district.
Brian Akins, nominated by Greenbriar Elementary School Mr. Akins saw our school (his former elementary school in the late 1970’s) mentioned in a news story about teachers spending their own money to buy supplies for kids. Within days he committed to starting a fund for our school to ensure that teachers could keep their money, and our students would have anything they could possibly need for the school year. He followed up that donation with another contribution to help us reach our goal of a fully funded endowment providing summer enrichment opportunities to Greenbriar students.
I would now like to turn it over to Dr. Woodson for a special recognition and invite the TCU representative to the podium.
TCU Superintendent’s Scholarship Award (Dr. Woodson):
This is one of my favorite times of year when I get to issue the annual Superintendent’s Scholarship award to a deserving senior at North Central.
This scholarship is made possible from generous support from Teachers Credit Union or TCU. I would like to thank Teachers Credit Union and Ms. Lauren Larson, a TCU Service Center Manager for their Generous Contribution and continued support of Washington Township Schools and in particular for supporting the Superintendent’s Scholarship winners for the last ten years. We are extremely grateful and humbled by your continued support.
This scholarship award is different from others who may look for exceptional academic scholarship for 4 straight years at NC. Instead, I have chosen to focus this annual scholarship on a student who has shown the most improvement during the 4 years at NC.
We are extremely excited to announce this year’s North Central High School recipient, Ms. Ashleigh O’Brien. (Melissa give the check to her and ask her to stand at her seat after I announce this)
Ashleigh is focused and highly motivated. Whatever she encountered, she worked hard to overcome. The skills she has learned over the last four years will serve her well as she continues her education. Her continued growth as a learner was demonstrated over the course of her time at North Central as she has worked hard every year. As a senior, she has demonstrated, it is not how you begin, but how you finish.
Ms. Larson, please share remarks from TCU and thank you again for sponsoring the Superintendent Scholarship award.
Ashleigh will be attending Ball State University in the fall and is planning to major in secondary education. She is an incredibly hard worker, remains motivated while working through challenges, and displays strong self-discipline. Ashleigh you make me very proud as your Superintendent and it is an honor to name you as the 2021 Superintendent Scholarship Award Winner.