UVCC instructor receives state recognition


By Jordan Green - [email protected]



Jeffrey Bertke, center, with co-presenter Joy McKarns, left, after the presentation of the award.

Jeffrey Bertke, center, with co-presenter Joy McKarns, left, after the presentation of the award.


Jordan Green | Aim Media Midwest

Jeffrey Bertke, center, with his students and fellow teachers.


Jordan Green | Aim Media Midwest

PIQUA — Jeffrey Bertke, an instructor at the Upper Valley Career Center (UVCC), was presented with the TORCH Award on Monday, April 11.

TORCH stands for Teachers of Ohio Representing Character and Heart and is given out to five teachers in the state annually.

“These [awards] are for those educators who go above and beyond in their communities, serving their students and their families, and are really the heartbeat for their schools,” said 2021 Ohio Teacher of the Year Anthony Coy-Gonzalez, who co-presented the award on behalf of the Ohio Department of Education.

Many teachers are nominated from across the state. Nominees are then reviewed by a committee made up of the current Ohio Teacher Fellow (Coy-Gonzalez) along with the 2021 Ohio Teacher of the Year finalists to select the five recipients.

Bertke’s nominator wrote, “This is an educator who is always looking for ways to improve his school and community while always working to involve his students in the process.”

Bertke, a graduate of the UVCC, has been an educator there for the past 11 years and teaches Electrical Trades. He and his class recently helped transform a vacated church into a community learning center. After applying for and receiving a grant, Bertke and his students rewired sections of the building and set up a wireless network for the center. The work they did was integral in creating this after-school space for students.

He is an active volunteer with the American Red Cross, SkillsUSA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Cub Scouts, and works as a Sunday school superintendent at his church. He also finds time to provide upgrades the Miami Valley Veterans Museum and write a grant to facilitate the installation of fire alarms in low-income housing by his students.

“I just try to build relationships. Then everything else falls in place,” said Bertke.

This award comes off the back of being named a winner of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence in October 2021.

He was joined by his students and fellow teachers for a surprise presentation of the award.

“Honestly, it’s too soon,” said Bertke on what the award means to him. “I’m still shocked, but I think I am a good representation of what they’re looking for.”

Jeffrey Bertke, center, with co-presenter Joy McKarns, left, after the presentation of the award.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/04/web1_cmyk-TORCH1-1.jpgJeffrey Bertke, center, with co-presenter Joy McKarns, left, after the presentation of the award. Jordan Green | Aim Media Midwest

Jeffrey Bertke, center, with his students and fellow teachers.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/04/web1_cmyk-TORCH2-1.jpgJeffrey Bertke, center, with his students and fellow teachers. Jordan Green | Aim Media Midwest

By Jordan Green

[email protected]