5/29/2013 2:07:00 PM School district puts a spotlight on staff
By David Richards
For the second time this school year, Byron Public Schools put a "Spotlight on Staff," which honors staff members who regularly go above and beyond in their positions.
The award is handed out twice a year, with the recipients being chosen by their peers.
"It's one of the most enjoyable tasks of the year, said Jen Walsh, business manager for the district, of handing out the honors.
This years winners include third-grade teacher Justin Blom; special education paraprofessional Karen Kuisle; school bus driver Wes Larson; and high school math and robotics teacher Andy Pethan.
"Mr. Blom is a member of the Byron community, and goes out of his way to represent our school district in a positive manner," his nomination stated. "He has volunteered to be a part of our diversity grant working with other schools to provide learning experiences for his students. As a colleague of Mr. Blom's, I've had the opportunity to be in his classroom on numerous occasions, and he is always connecting what students are learning to the impact it can have within our community."
"She is extremely organized and takes great pride in her work with students," her nomination stated. "When time allows, she takes it upon herself to watch the seventh and eighth grade Moodle lessons before she goes into the math classes where she helps support our special education math students. She has initiated iPad trainings for other paraprofessionals in our building to assist our students who are working with iPads and increase her own learning. When it comes to continuous improvement, Karen is a self-motivator. She is a member of the staff development committee, attended the PLC summer conference and is a PLC leader for the paraprofessionals in the middle school. Karen is an excellent educator and works hard each day to make a difference in the lives of those she works with."
"Wes is always looking to improve in all he does at the bus garage, in cleaning the buses, maintaining the buses, and making sure his students who ride his bus get to and from school safely," his nomination stated. "Wes is always looking at ways to save the school money in maintenance. If he can figure out how to fix it himself, he will."
"Andy has increased the engagement of students by his single-handed creation of the Byron High School robotics teams," his nomination stated. "He organized the team, secured funding and cleared all the necessary "paperwork" hurdles, coached and mentored the team and led it to its first robotics competition. He did all this on extremely short notice, and selflessly volunteered untold hours of his personal time. Andy acted as the team's coach, but also used his skills in motivation to have the team self-organize and direct itself to a successful competition.
He was able to create 100 percent engagement from all team members, helping them become passionate about what they were doing, motivating them to also put in an enormous amount of extra-curricular hours (late nights and every weekend) to successfully build their robot and compete. His energy and dedication is inspiring, and it's teachers like Andy who will lead Byron into 21st century learning."