SIDNEY – Sidney Rotary, in partnership with the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center, announced the honorable recipients of 2020-21 Excellence in Education, an award designed to recognize Shelby County’s most dedicated educators.
This year’s honorees are Susie Harris, a teacher of math at Jackson Center Local Schools; Aaron Johnson, a teacher of math at Upper Valley Career Center; and Marcus Petitjean, a teacher of industrial arts at Russia Local Schools.
The Excellence in Education program welcomes nominations from teachers, administrators, parents of students, and the Shelby County community at-large. This year, 35 nominations were reviewed.
From those nominations, the nine-person panel representing Sidney Rotary and the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center selected six finalists. Those finalists then were interviewed by the panel, which narrowed selections down to three award recipients.
Over the past four years of honoring the Excellence in Education award winners, a commonality among the recipients is that of doing whatever is necessary for the betterment of their students and their school, whether it be teaching multiple subjects or working in their off time to hone their craft and adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of public education.
Harris was nominated by Jackson Center school counselor Marilyn Kohler for being Jackson Center’s version of the renaissance woman and her willingness to take on any task or role thrown her way for the betterment of her students and her school.
“She is the consummate professional who puts kids first and lives by the mantra of ‘kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’” Kohler said. “Susie Harris is the hardest working teacher around. She will do anything for her students.”
Johnson was nominated by UVCC Student Services Director Matt Meyer because he strives to create a safe, warm atmosphere in his classroom where students seize the opportunity to learn.
“His area of instruction is math, but he is really a teacher of kids who are scared to death of quadratic equations and pythagorean theorems,” Meyer said. “Aaron has the innate ability to allay fears and place confidence where previously voided. He’s a dedicated and student-centered teacher who exemplifies the qualities of an ‘Excellence in Education’ recipient. UVCC is lucky to have this instructional leader.”
Petitjean was nominated by Russia school counselor Rachel Gregg for epitomizing what it means to be a hands-on teacher, whether it be being one of the first Lego League coaches or creating his very own ninja course with his K-4 students.
“Marcus is a firm believer in teaching kids ‘hands-on,’” Gregg said. “He says, ‘Nobody knows how to fix anything anymore. I am trying to provide some of those important skills while staying current with the changing times.’”
Each of these recipients doesn’t just teach students, they make connections with kids and the school community around them to provide the foundation for life-long lessons and skills. They build relationships in their classrooms that transcend the school year and change the trajectory of lives.