Marcia Tomes SOES copyDAVIESS COUNTY, Ky. (8/8/18) — Daviess County Public Schools announced recipients of the sixth annual Teacher of the Year, Customer Service and Office Professional Awards during the district’s Opening Day ceremony Tuesday at the Sportscenter. This year’s awards were refocused as “Kids First” Awards – an opportunity to celebrate those who exemplify the highest ideals of the DCPS mission.
 
The DCPS district has identified the following characteristics of a great teacher: Student centered, shows empathy; develops and maintains positive relationships; growth mindset; communication with all groups; engagement; knowledge of content; team player; prepared; coachable; invested; passionate about teaching and learning.
 
Nominations were accepted from colleagues, students, parents and administrators, and were reviewed by the DCPS Office of Teaching and Learning and members of the DCPS Future Leaders Academy, who also scheduled classroom observations with finalists. Winners at the elementary, middle and high school levels received beautiful “Kids First” sculptures and will represent the DCPS district as candidates for state-level Teacher of the Year honors.
 
The following outstanding educators are truly deserving of our recognition for their “Kids First” commitment to providing a high-quality educational experience for every child, every day:
 
The 2018 DCPS Kids First Elementary Teacher of the Year is Marcia Tomes, a primary teacher and interventionist at Southern Oaks Elementary School. Tomes, who specializes in working with students who are English language learners, arrives early at Southern Oaks every morning and can often be seen kneeling down to welcome students at eye-level as they arrive, sharing hugs and encouraging kids to make that day their best day. She radiates warmth as she makes each child feel loved and valued.
Her colleagues report significant improvements in the children Tomes works with. She is making a difference in their lives.

That commitment also extends to the families of her students. On at least one occasion, she made arrangements to meet on a weekend with a person who could assist her in writing a letter to a parent in their native language. This hand-written letter – done on her own time and of her own initiative – made a huge difference in this child’s life and academic progress.

In addition to her responsibilities in pulling out EL students to work on language and gap areas, Tomes is also there for any child who needs love and support.

Tomes also demonstrates a growth mindset and leads by example as she challenges students to grow academically. Under her guidance, students learn that their efforts will make them stronger in school, but also in all areas of life.

She is there for her colleagues as well. Teachers at Southern Oaks look up to Marcia Tomes. She sets a positive example by volunteering at many school events and activities. She radiates happiness and sets a positive example of passion and flexibility. Tomes has taught at almost every elementary grade level, so is able to understand and communicate with her fellow teachers, sharing insights and ideas about meeting students’ needs, strengthening curriculum or nurturing a positive environment in the classroom.
 
Jennifer McFadden DCMS copyThe 2018 DCPS Kids First Middle School Teacher of the Year is Jennifer McFadden, a social studies teacher at Daviess County Middle School. McFadden exemplifies our district’s ideals as a great teacher:
Growth Mindset – McFadden was one of the first at her school to embrace mastery grading and learning. She gives up her planning period to host “lunch and learn” sessions so students can reassess until they master concepts.

Team Player – McFadden is actively involved as a leader at Daviess County Middle School, contributing as member of numerous committees. She created the Elite Panther Award, recognizing students for community service and good attendance, behavior and grades. She is a dedicated academic team coach for social studies and language arts. When another teacher was out on an extended medical leave, McFadden stepped up to create all the sub plans and lessons for her colleague. She worked closely with the sub to ensure continuous learning for the students.

Student-centered and showing empathy – McFadden was aware of a student’s unstable home life. Several times during the school year, she surprised this student by bringing him a breakfast burrito or sausage biscuit to start his day on a positive note. Those items that most of us take for granted were a real treat to this student – but more importantly, he knew someone cared.

Knowledge of content – McFadden serves as the chair of the DCMS social studies department, and organizes the annual Geography Bee that allows students to attend the state competition. She created a Historical Museum where students demonstrate knowledge about civilizations based on their preferred learning styles. She creates engaging lessons that bring learning to life for her students.

Carrie Whitmer DCHS copyThe 2018 DCPS Kids First High School Teacher of the Year is Carrie Whitmer, a math teacher at Daviess County High School. Whitmer quietly makes a difference every day through her commitment to the teaching profession and her willingness to serve others – students and colleagues alike.
She demonstrates an outstanding “Kids First” spirit by dedicating her planning period to students. Rather than grading assignments and getting ahead on the week’s activities, Whitmer spends her prep period tutoring former students who are taking dual credit courses at Owensboro Community and Technical College.

She serves as Teacher Leader for the DCHS math department, a position she has held for many years. This commitment reflects her willingness to lead and highlights her ability to quietly but effectively make a difference in the lives of students – not only in her classroom, but for all members of the Panther family. As department chair, Whitmer is responsible for serving as liaison between her fellow math teachers and the school leadership team. She plans Professional Learning Community meetings and oversees the development of curriculum at each grade level, allowing her to positively influence the academic experience of all students.

In addition to all this – Whitmer mentors student teachers year after year. As a result of her willingness to open her classroom – and her heart – to future educators, Whitmer’s ripple of influence has touched the lives of countless students across Kentucky. One of those student teachers reached out to share what Whitmer’s support meant to her:

“Without Carrie Whitmer, I would not be where I am today. Her patience, guidance and consistent motivation led me through the best student-teaching experience I could have ever asked for. She was always open to incorporating my ideas into her classroom and she truly let me take the reins. Now that I’m teaching, I know how difficult it must have been for her to allow me to productively struggle through teaching lessons for the very first time, but she was always on board and helped me fill in the gaps to be more successful. She is also invested in my life outside of school and always checks in to make sure things are going well. That quality truly makes her deserving of the Teacher of the Year Award as she doesn’t just teach her kids, she doesn’t just advise the math department, but she is also genuinely interested in who we are. She inspires all of us at DCHS to be the best we can be in the classroom and in our personal lives.”
 
DCPS Kids First Customer Service and Office Professional honorees
 
Candidates for Customer Service and Office Professional Awards were submitted to a district-level committee last spring and evaluated on the basis of putting Kids First in their work as members of the DCPS team. Winners received a beautiful sculpture and will represent the district as nominees for statewide honors sponsored by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.
 
Ken Roberts Office Pro copyThe 2018 DCPS Kids First Office Professional Award was presented to technology specialist Ken Roberts. Roberts’ contributions extend to every corner of our district and our entire community – he is a man who proves that heroes don’t always wear capes. Although Ken Roberts is usually behind the scenes, his contributions have had a positive impact on the work performed by every member of the DCPS staff – and has also benefited our students and their families.

Beyond being the consummate Office Professional, Roberts is also one of the kindest people you will ever meet. He has the heart of a genuine servant.

Regardless of the complexity of the problem, Roberts makes it look easy. These challenges are usually NOT easy, but because of the way Roberts interacts with people with patience and gentle good humor, it can be easy to overlook the difficulty of the tasks brought to him.

Even when asked the same questions over and over, Roberts never stops smiling. His voice is always calm. Somehow, our staff just feels better, just knowing Ken Roberts is on our side and working to find the answers to our technology questions.

Roberts goes the extra mile to ensure that the solution makes the process as simple, convenient and efficient for all of us employees, and he takes the time to “show and tell” how the process works so that the user feels comfortable and confident. Whether it’s setting up a specialized query for Infinite Campus, tackling the challenging task of assigning state course codes to appropriate classes or figuring out how to run merged spreadsheets for improved data tracking, Roberts makes the problems of other people his own and sticks with it until the challenge is resolved. His example of an outstanding work ethic is an inspiration to all of us.

There were several individuals from numerous schools and departments who nominated Ken Roberts for this award, and that alone speaks to the fact that he is highly respected across the district. Among their comments are these:

One person said: “Ken Roberts is the most efficient, helpful person I have had the pleasure of working with. He is always available to help with all my wild questions and requests, and always answers with the kindest spirit.”

Another person said: “Ken Roberts has literally saved me and my work time after time. He always has a friendly smile, kind answer and never seems to be perturbed or anxious about the present situation.”
And someone else said: “I can’t think of a more deserving individual who exhibits the values we want in the Daviess County Public Schools district.”
 
Louise Weston Cust Serv copyLouise Weston, cafeteria manager at Daviess County Middle School, was named 2018 DCPS Kids First Customer Service Award winner and will be nominated by the district for the KASA Fred Award. Weston received nominations from 17 friends and colleagues – an awesome tribute to the fact that she has touched many, many lives in her work at Daviess County Middle School.

One of our MMD teachers described how Louise Weston demonstrated an outstanding willingness to accommodate special dietary needs of our special students. A student with autism brought his lunch to school most days, but when he didn’t, there were only two things he would eat. Although it created more work for Weston and her team, they cheerfully provided triangle pizza and corndogs so this student would be fueled up and ready to learn. Another student needed to lose weight before she could undergo a major surgery. Weston stepped up and began making a Weight Watchers lunch for this student every day. This young lady began slimming down to the point that the surgery was not necessary.

Another nominator said: “There is no better way to start your day than to go through the breakfast line at DCMS with Louise Weston greeting you. Louise goes above and beyond to make sure students’ needs are being met. She will attend 504 meetings so students with food allergies are safe to eat in our cafeteria. She will email parents when the menu has changed so students will know their alternatives if they cannot eat what is being served. When you think of customer service, Louise Weston definitely sets a great example. Cooking great meals is only a small part of the great person behind that apron. She puts kids first every day.”

Other comments: Her kitchen staff will testify to the family environment that Louise Weston creates through her loving leadership skills.

She has made our kitchen team a truly happy family.

She strives to take care of our teachers. She comes in extra early to make desserts from scratch for our staff. She has taught our team that we should do what we can to make teachers’ job just a little easier; for example, getting them through the lunch line as quickly as possible. Weston has been known to make homemade dishes for staff members when they are going through tough times at home.

She decorates the serving line with seasonal themes and makes the cafeteria a pleasant place for kids to be. She cooks for our back-to-school picnics, provides snacks for our conferences and participates in school-wide fundraisers.

She is more than a co-worker; she is like family. Every school and every person needs a Louise in their life.

Those are just a few of the tributes that poured in to honor this special lady … but here’s what it’s all about: When someone thanked Louise Weston for all she does for students and staff at Daviess County Middle School, her answer was this: “I believe it’s a full-circle commitment. If I take care of the teachers, they will take care of the kids. We’re all in this together.”
 
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