SIDNEY – Teachers from Botkins, Houston and Sidney were recognized as some of the best educators in Shelby County in the second annual Excellence in Education program.
The 2018-19 honorees are Brett Bickel, a social studies teacher and department chairperson at Sidney High School; Derek McCracken, an agricultural education instructor at Houston High School and a satellite instructor of the Upper Valley Career Center; and Ashlee Zimpfer, a kindergarten teacher at Botkins Local School.
The program, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sidney in partnership with the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center, is designed to honor and recognize three teachers of Shelby County students.
From a pool of 25 nominees submitted by students, colleagues, parents, administrators and the general public, six finalists were selected by a nine-judge panel. Along with the three winners, finalists included Lisa Meiners, of Sidney Alternative School; Michelle Muhlenkamp, of Russia Local Schools; and Magan Nickels, of Upper Valley Career Center.
The six finalists then were interviewed by a three-judge panel to determine this year’s three winners, who will be honored with plaques during the Rotary Club’s Service above Self Luncheon on May 13.
Bickel, who has been a teacher for 17 years, primarily teaches College Credit Plus courses at Sidney. He also is involved with the mock trail program, academia team and been active within the athletics department along with many other groups and activities.
Math teacher Greg Snyder nominated Bickel because he’s passionate, hard working, selfless and willing to learn.
“I’ve been teaching for 12 years and I can truly say that the impact Mr. Bickel has had on Sidney High School students will be everlasting. A true teacher doesn’t just teach from 8:00-3:00 from September to May. Brett personifies ‘going the extra mile’ for the kids of Sidney,” Snyder wrote. “I strive every day to be as passionate, hard-working, and selfless as Brett. I also want to continue to learn and get our department to the level that Brett has with the Social Studies department.”
McCracken, who has been a teacher for six years, also serves as the Houston’s FFA adviser. Under his leadership the group has grown from 73 students to 114 students who plan more than 30 FFA activities a year.
Karen Stangel, a parent, nominated McCracken for accomplishments such as securing grants to build a greenhouse at the school, dedicating his time to assist students outside of the classroom and being a good role model.
“In the past 4 years, 19 Houston FFA members have received their State Degree and 2 have been awarded their American Degree,” Stangel wrote. “This is more than all the State and American Degrees awarded in the past 30 years combined at our school. Also, under his supervision, the Houston FFA has also been named a Top 10 Chapter in Ohio and Model of Excellence-Top 10 Chapter in the Nation. This is an amazing accomplishment and shows how dedicated he is in supporting our students to achieve success.”
Zimpfer, who has been a teacher for 13 years, works with Botkins’ 40 kindergarten students on a daily basis and serves on many school committees.
Superintendent Jeff McPheron nominated Zimpfer because of her leadership abilities and dedication to empowering youth.
“In the past two years, Ashlee helped develop and improve our PBIS program called the ‘Trojan Way,’ McPheron wrote. “It gives our school opportunities to recognize students for characteristics beyond letter grades that we want them to excel at such as being kind to others, accepting differences, and being respectful. We have recognized hundreds of students, given all students K-12 ‘Trojan Way’ t-shirts, created a common positive traits language used in classrooms and seen a return of positive culture to our building. None of which would have been possible without Ashlee’s help!”
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