Finalists named for teacher award

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — The Sidney Rotary Club and the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center have named six finalists in their inaugural Excellence in Education award program.

The award was established in September to honor teachers in Shelby County schools. Three will be named winners during the Rotary Club’s Service above Self Luncheon, May 14.

A three-judge panel will interview the finalists, April 24, to decide who the winners will be.

The winners and their nominators will be recognized at the luncheon.

The finalists are Jill Barger, of Christian Academy Schools, nominated by Mary Smith; Ernestine Daugherty, of Fort Loramie Local Schools, nominated by Dan Holland; Jason Liette, of Botkins Local Schools, nominated by Jeff McPheron; Alana Lotz, of Jackson Center Local Schools, nomimated by Susan Elmore; Melissa McClain, of Whittier Elementary School, nominated by Kristin Jones; and Sara Olding, of Sidney High School, nominated by Marissa Clark.

According to award founder Thomas Clark, there were 25 nominations made, and they came from all public school systems in Shelby County, Lehman Catholic High School, Christian Academy Schools and Upper Valley Career Center. Students, parents, fellow teachers, administrators, colleagues and community members were eligible to make nominations for the awards. Nominees had to be state-certified teachers and lead pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade classes. Spouses and children of current Rotary Club officers, board members or members of the award committee were not eligible for consideration. A teacher can be nominated in more than one year, but can win only once.

Thomas Clark, a Midwest Regional Educational Service Center consultant, devised the program after he had been asked by the service center superintendent to serve as a judge of the Teacher of the Year program in Logan County, the Sidney Daily News reported in September.

“We were so impressed with everything going on in Logan County, we thought there must be just as much going on in Shelby County,” Thomas Clark said then. “I called Duane (Gaier, president of the Sidney Rotary Club).”

When an award for local educators was suggested, Gaier and the Rotary Board of Trustees thought it was a good idea.

“It was a great fit,” Gaier said in September. “We do a similar program, Service above Self, for the community. (Honoring teachers) is overdue. We have good teachers here. When I brought this up to the board, it was a slam dunk.”

Nominators were asked to submit essays describing how their nominee meets the requirements for innovation, use of best practices and masterful teaching. Winners will receive plaques.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.