Community Recognitions

Honored Schools Life-Changing Teacher Award

Indianapolis, Indiana –  On May 26, 2022, three teachers from the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township (MSDWT) received the Honored Schools Life-Changing Teacher Award for the impact that they have made in their school communities. Julon Holmes, a teacher at Fox Hill Elementary, Laurie Cowan-Turner, a teacher at Spring Mill Elementary School, and Ashlee Sadler of Clearwater Elementary School, received the award which comes with a $5,000 prize funded by the College Football Playoff Foundation.

“The phenomenal teachers selected for this award reflect the dynamic and impactful teacher workforce that exists in Indianapolis,” states Kevin Beckford, Senior Director of Partnerships, Strategy, and Programs for Honored Schools. “It is truly a joy to celebrate these teachers and their school communities.”

Over the last four months, students and families from the following participating schools has celebrated teachers through the Honored Schools platform: Allisonville Elementary School, Clearwater Elementary School, Crooked Creek Elementary School, Fox Hill Elementary School, Greenbriar Elementary School, Nora Elementary School, Spring Mill Elementary School, and Willow Lake Elementary School.

Ashlee Sadler, Clearwater Elementary Teacher

Recognizing Ashlee Sadler- a teacher at Clearwater Elementary School and 2022 Honored Schools Life-Changing Teacher award recipient, one family member shared, “Our daughter has learned so much from Ms Sadler and even quotes Ms Sadler in our home! We see each day how much of a difference she has made with our girl and we will forever be grateful for Ms Sadler for that! Our daughter is now reading at a higher reading level and loves going to school each day. “Work Hard, Play Hard” is what we hear our daughter say daily as Ms Sadler has taught her this important concept!”


In her nomination of recipient Julon Holmes from Fox Hill Elementary School, one parent shared, “This gentleman is the epitome of a

Julon Homes, Fox Hill Elementary Teacher

spectacular educator. He treats the students as individuals with their own needs and learning styles. He is patient and kind. He has been one of the most helpful and understanding teachers my son has ever had.”





Laurie Cowan-Turner. Spring Mill Elementary Teacher

In another recognition letter, a Spring Mill Elementary School student shares that Mrs. Cowan-Turner “is really nice and teaches us in awesome ways. She teaches us about kindness and motivation. She pushes us to do better and to do our best.”

Students, alumni, and family members from participating schools submitted over 1,100 recognition letters, which were delivered digitally to every teacher shortly after submission.

“We have incredible teachers in Washington Township and are so grateful that Honored Schools provides a platform for students and families to tell educators the impact they are making. We were inspired by the quantity and quality of nominations highlighting the exceptional things happening in our classrooms” shares Emily Kaiser, the Executive Director of the Washington Township Schools Foundation, a local organization that helped facilitate teacher recognition integration for the participating schools.


School on Wheels
May 24, 2022
School on Wheels’ 2022 Education Champion Announced
Laura Hakim, Washington Township School Social Worker, has been awarded as the 2022 Education Champion for her outstanding service to the Nora Elementary School community.

Laura Hakim

Indianapolis, May 24, 2022. School on Wheels, an Indianapolis nonprofit that provides tutoring and academic support to students and families impacted by homelessness and housing instability, named Nora Elementary School Social Worker Laura Hakim as its 2022 Education Champion. Since 2013, School on Wheels has honored an outstanding individual each year who devotes their time, expertise, and focus to supporting youth and championing education in Indiana.
Teachers, social workers, and youth workers from across Indianapolis were nominated by coworkers, parents of students, and board members for this award. “The nominations we received are a testament to the amazing people and programs supporting students in our city,” said Kelly Coker, School on Wheels’ Chief Program Officer. “The past few years have been incredibly challenging for educators and youth workers, but these nominations demonstrate that there are remarkable individuals in Indianapolis going above and beyond to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss and out of school time.”
Hakim was nominated for her work as School Social Worker for Nora Elementary School, a role she has held since 2017. Her nomination and application stood out to the awards jury due to the depth of the services she ensures Nora Elementary students and families are connected to, including social and emotional support. One of Hakim’s main roles is to support the social and emotional needs of students that are causing an adverse impact on their education, which has increased significantly during the pandemic.
The Education Champion Award comes with a $1,000 stipend for a project or program that will benefit their students. Hakim plans to use the funds for a family engagement event at Nora. “The pandemic has brought about an increase in mental health needs for our students and families. Additionally, due to the restrictions related to the pandemic, we have had to limit families coming to the building,” said Hakim. “I am excited about the opportunity to bring together students, families, and staff for a school-wide event where we can all participate in hands-on SEL activities that promote healthy coping strategies, family togetherness, positive interactions, and fun!”
“Laura serves as the first point of contact for students and families during some of their highest-need situations. The relationships Laura builds with families and the resources she connects them to help create stability for the students and families, which is one of the foundations for academic success,” said Kelly Coker, School on Wheels’ Chief Program Officer.

WISH-8 Golden Apple Award

March 2022

Jocelyn Sisson, North Central High School Teacher

Congratulations to North Central High School AP literature, language and composition teacher  Jocelyn Sisson for receiving WISH-TV’s Golden Apple Award in March. The Golden Apple Award honors Central Indiana Teachers who make a crucial difference in our children’s lives.  The prize comes with a check for $500, a trophy and a big surprise. Mrs. Sisson has spent decades helping students write their own stories. She demands kids be their best and is known for “yelping,” a term her students use to describe her yelling and helping method of teaching. Sisson’s spent more than 20 years of her 32-year teaching career at North Central. In that time, Sisson has built a reputation. “She definitely dives in deep and she will not accept, will not accept, mediocrity,” Principal, Mr. Branigan said. As principal, Branigan says he has learned many lessons from Sisson over the years. Sisson also gives her time. She helps run a 10th grade “Panther Exploration Project” where students explore careers. Sisson also keeps open time slots before, during and after school to meet with students one-on-one. Congratulations again and thank you for everything you do to go above and beyond for our students, staff and community!



Sara Wood, JELCC Teacher

Sara Wood JEL registered nurse and health careers teacher recently received the Golden Apple from WISHTV. Sara Wood knows how to save a life and she also knows how to help start them.  “She combines her passion for nursing with her passion for teaching and shares her personal experiences and knowledge with her health care professionals,” said Nicole Cooper, Wood’s supervisor. Her goal is to prepare the students for a career in nursing. But her students say the classes are about more than just anatomy and the body. It’s also about how she helps to heal their spirit. “Like, when I get off the bus, I’m just happy to come to the classroom because I know that I’m gonna have a good day. Like, It sucks leaving the class and that’s how much fun and exciting I get from this class,” said Caleb Kelly, a senior in Wood’s class. Those who win the special award receive the Golden Apple trophy and $500 from our sponsors Bailey and Wood Mortgage lender. Congratulations Ms. Wood, we are extremely proud of your accomplishments and passion for our students, staff and community!

Congratulations to  Buchanan-Rivera, Director of Equity and Inclusion on her nomination and we also celebrate Ms. Rashieta

Ms. Rashieta Woods & Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera

Woods, teacher at AV, who was the award winner in the Education category for the Minority Achievers Award with Center for Leadership Development.  The 42nd Annual Minority Achievers Awards & Scholarship Gala pays tribute to the city’s top minority leaders and achievers who have performed outstanding service in their profession and for the community. At this signature fundraising event, local corporations, organizations and educational institutions realize the opportunity to honor talented minority men and women who demonstrate excellence. Additionally, the annual awards have developed into a showcase of the significant academic talents and successes of “CLD Scholars” — CLD youth participants who have achieved distinction by being awarded scholarships from educational institutions for reaching their intellectual and academic potential. Again, congratulations to both Dr. Buchanan-Rivera for her nomination and Ms. Rashieta Woods for her recognition and we appreciate your support of our students, staff and community!

Continuing the celebration for Rashieta Woods, we would like to extend additional recognition as she was just selected as one of the 2022-2023 Armstrong Teacher Educator Awardees. The Armstrong Teacher Educator Award is more than a “teacher of the year” award. In addition to recognizing educator excellence, the award provides financial support for top Indiana educators to work with current IU faculty and undergraduates in the classroom and early field experiences. Armstrong Teacher Educators take an active role in shaping the next generation of teachers.  We are extremely excited for this opportunity for Ms. Woods and look forward to your successful future!