This is the year, more than ever, to recognize your beloved teachers by nominating them for the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Award.
This annual award recognizes teachers who demonstrate a deep commitment to academic and artistic achievement, model professional and innovative teaching practices, and inspire students, colleagues, and the community with their dedication and leadership.
SEED sat down and spoke with two individuals who nominated teachers, one a parent and the other a student, to learn more about what motivated them to nominate a beloved teacher. We also spoke to a member of the independent volunteer committee that selects the recipients of the award.
According to Megan Potter, “We presently have two small children at Atwater school- one child in 2nd grade and the other child in K5 kindergarten. My husband and I have such a deep appreciation for all of the teachers we have interacted with during these unprecedented times, from our Atwater gym teacher, the art teacher, to our children’s primary classroom teachers. All of our children’s teachers have gone beyond what is expected of them in this incredibly difficult time. I was moved to nominate Janet Reinhoffer, our child’s second grade teacher for the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Award, as Mrs. Reinhoffer has worked very hard to foster a sense of connectedness between her classroom students, when connectedness is so difficult to achieve during a pandemic,” Megan explains.
Megan gave a few examples of Janet’s commitment to building relationships with her students. At the beginning of the school year, Janet invited each of her students and their families to meet her individually outside, 6 feet apart, so she could get to know each other better. During the school year, she has invited very small groups of children to visit the classroom for 30 minutes at a time. One week, Janet read a story book via Zoom to her students at 7:00 pm every evening before bedtime. Every Wednesday morning, which is asynchronous, before the 8:15 am Crew Time, Janet leaves her home for a game she calls, “Where in the Wood is Mrs. Reinhoffer?”. She goes to different places in Shorewood, (including the roof of Atwater School!) and engages the students with clues while on Zoom with her cell phone. After they guess her location, she gives the students their assignments for the day. “Our child has loved these moments of connecting with her classmates and Mrs. Reinhoffer, and as her parents, we are deeply appreciative as well,” Megan states as her reason for nominating Janet.
There are two important distinct categories in which teachers can be nominated for the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Award. One category is for individual teachers, and the second category is for teachers who work in a group with a collaborative curriculum. In 2013, the first individual teacher awards were announced. In 2016, the award was expanded to include collaborative groups of teachers. Since 2013, 47 teachers have received the individual teacher award, and since 2016, 16 teachers have received the collaborative group award.
Individual Teacher Award: Todd Bell, Joshua Becker, Annette Koerten, Sheila Mooney, Troy Thibedeau.
Collaborative Group Award: Jessica AuBuchon & Jessica Hau.
*We do not have a photo of the 2019-20 Honorees as it was not possible in June to gather in celebration and recognition.
Individual Teacher Award: Melissa Honigman, Alan Karbel, Virginia Kashian, Brian Schulties, Colleen Shea.
Collaborative Group Award: Scott Brown, Jennifer Hoffman & Amalie Norris; Joleen Barry, Kamei Kim, Bridey Richards, Sara Stark & Amy Thoreson.
All students, district parents, community members and teachers’ peers can nominate eligible teachers. To be eligible, the teacher(s) need to be certified, with three or more years of experience in the district. Teachers are eligible to win every seven years.
Freshman student Maia Shimko nominated her past 6th grade Lake Bluff teacher, Mrs. Berman, for several reasons. Mrs. Berman was Maia’s homeroom, reading, writing, and science teacher. Last year, Mrs. Berman was also Maia’s younger brother’s 6th grade teacher.
Maia nominated Mrs. Berman because, “Mrs. Berman was a caring, connected, and engaging teacher to my classmates and I saw these same qualities extended to my brother during the lockdown phase of the pandemic last year. Mrs. Berman had a newborn baby, and came back from maternity leave to virtual teaching and learning, which she did exceptionally, and guided my brother and his classmates with the same caring and engaging qualities I received, but now through Zoom and emailing individual students. She managed to connect with her students and make them feel welcome while apart and through a screen. Additionally, she manages to connect the outside world and issues that students face, or will face, into her lessons in a mature but understandable way. This wasn’t something I had experienced before, and haven’t in the same way since.”
Individual Teacher Award: Eva Gulotta, Joe King, Evan Schmidt, Noelle Shanks.
Collaborative Group Award: Kristen Stridde & Krystle Thomas.
An independent volunteer committee comprised of five highly accomplished professionals and education leaders in the community who are separate from the SEED Board of Directors selects the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Award recipients. A minimum of $5k will be awarded to an individual teacher with a maximum of $15k for a group of teachers who collaborate together.
As Jack Linehan Ed.D., Retired Shorewood Superintendent/SHS Principal, and a Member of the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Committee states, “We recognize that it is our teachers who sustain the quality school experience in Shorewood and we find many personal and meaningful ways to reinforce and to inspire them. The Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Award, now in its eighth year, is meant to be one expression of a community’s appreciation. Each year the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Committee receives dozens of nominations from parents, students, and colleagues to recognize teachers who have made such a positive impact in the lives of their students. This disruptive and difficult year provides each of us an opportunity to validate the good work of our teachers who have revised and reinvented their work to lift their students academically and emotionally. The Excellence in Teaching Award nomination process is one way to validate their good work and SEED provides an effective platform to do just that.”
The nomination period opened January 11, 2021, and will close February 26, 2021. Nominated teachers are invited to continue the process, and their applications are due April 19, 2021. Winners will be announced the first week of June.
No money raised through the Shorewood SEED Foundation is utilized for this award. A private donor established a donor advised fund to create monetary awards to honor the excellence in teaching so evident in our Shorewood Schools. In addition, the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching donor advised fund has donated $16k annually for three years for a total of $48k to support teachers interested in attending the UWM Designed Thinking summer program. To date 27 Shorewood teachers have participated, over 15 courses have been re-designed and developed, and the impact of this programming for our students is significant for years to come. In 2020, the fund also donated $15k for masks, shields, and PPE to protect our teachers and students during the pandemic.
To teach during a pandemic is a herculean task, as our teachers pivot again and again to provide connectedness, instruction, and inspiration to our K-12 students. Please nominate your treasured teacher(s) or group of teachers by February 26th! Click on the links below for the nominate forms and to learn more about past winners, the criteria, and the selection committee.