SIDNEY – Sidney Rotary, in partnership with the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center, recently announced the recipients of 2019-20 Excellence in Education, an award designed to recognize Shelby County’s most dedicated educators.
This year’s honorees are Sam Brautigam, a teacher of math, history, speech and theater at Anna High School; Troyann Freytag, an intervention specialist and teacher of math and science at Sidney Middle School; Mandy Gutman, an intervention specialist and teacher of math at Sidney High School; and Sonya Phillips, a teacher of choir and music and the gifted intervention program coordinator for fourth to sixth grades at Fairlawn Local Schools.
The Excellence in Education program welcomes nominations from teachers, administrators, parents of students, and the Shelby County community at-large. 19 nominations were received this year. From those nominations, the nine-person panel representing Sidney Rotary and the MRESC selects six finalists. Those finalists are then interviewed by the panel, which then narrows selections down to four award recipients.
One commonality among this year’s recipients is that of doing whatever is necessary for the betterment of their students, 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.
Brautigam was nominated by Anna High School guidance counselor Michelle Holsinger for bringing a passion to his profession that is matched by his daily preparation for class.
Holsinger states, “Sam holds student interests, even through mundane and challenging coursework, with his quick wit, positive humor, and willingness to connect with students on a personal level.”
Freytag was nominated by fellow Sidney Middle School teacher Jamie Piening for doing everything with an unparalleled dedication and positivity that permeates her classroom, thus substantiating her mantra, ‘Every student can learn.’
Peining states, “Every student in her classroom knows that they are loved but she also maintains high expectations and pushes every student to do their best despite the learning challenges they may face. Mrs. Freytag is notorious for getting the most reluctant students to participate and learn.’
Gutman was nominated by Sidney High School Assistant Principal Greg Snyder for having built a reputation among her peers as a relentless worker who is fiercely independent yet loyal to her students and staff, while exhibiting strong leadership skills.
Snyder states, “Simply put, Mandy does not do what is easiest but does what is best for her kids.”
Phillips was nominated by Fairlawn administrators, John Stekli and Jeff Hobbs, for her passion for teaching music but also the love and care she shows her students beyond the classroom.
Hobbs states, “Mrs. Phillips is a teacher you want your child to have because not only will she improve their musical abilities but she will also make them better people.”
Each of these recipients doesn’t just teach students, they make connections with kids in order to help them grow within the walls of the classroom and provide the foundation for further growth beyond. They build relationships in their classrooms that transcend the school year and change the trajectory of lives.