Last week the teachers and staff members received grants, awards and a free dinner, but more importantly they received appreciation.
The Valley City Public School District held its annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet at the Hi-Liner Activity Center last week, where 20 staff members - three of them retiring this year - were honored for their service to the district, and Carmelle Kuehn was named “Teacher of the Year.”
The Teacher of the Year award recipient is based on input from students, staff and administration.
Kuehn teaches at the Alternative Learning Center across the street from the high school, where she works with students who would otherwise fall through the cracks of the traditional education system.
Superintendent Dean Koppelman read some of Kuehn’s student’s remarks as he presented her the award: “If it wasn’t for her, I would not be graduating this year, and I probably would not still be in school. She’s the only person, to me, who gets why we don’t like coming to school and why we don’t do our homework, and does everything she can to help us try and pass a course. She’s the best teacher a student could ask for.”
Another student wrote: “Mrs. Kuehn, you deal with so much every year from us, and we’re all so proud to have you as our teacher... for you to be here everyday and put up with all of us and our nonsense at times... Mrs. Kuehn understands us better than anyone and she deserves to be teacher of the year.”
High school principal Kristi Brandt said “Mrs. Kuehn knows that the relationships she builds with these students is vital to their success. She makes herself available beyond school hours to help ensure that the students are making good decisions, not only in their academic lives, but in their personal lives.”
Retiring this year are Judy Northridge, kitchen staff; Ron Manke, custodian; and English teacher Ann Wendel.
To honor Wendel, her fellow teachers Beth Beckers, Peggy Kvien, Kathleen Horner, Carol Foth, Sarah Lerud, Terry LeGrand, Sheila Cummings and Kristi Shanenko performed a skit for the audience to show their appreciation for all the help and support Wendel has given them over the years.
“She was here when I came 21 years ago and I go to her for ideas, for advice, for suggestions, to vent; I don’t what I’m going to do without her next year,” Cummings said.
Koppelman and Washington Elementary School principal Wayne Denault presented Manke’s retirement award. Manke has worked with the district for 24 years.
“I have a long list of things that I could say about Ron and all of them are good,” Denault said, “but I know he is anxious to get back to Washington School to finish vacuuming tonight, so I’ll keep it short.”
Denault said Manke’s dedication to his work was the most outstanding thing that struck him about the man. Aside from 20 days Manke needed to recover from surgery, he only took one sick day during his career with the school district.
Judy Northridge is also retiring after working in the high school cafeteria for the past 14 years.
Sue Milender, the school’s food service director, presented Northridge her award saying, “The kitchen, as you may know, is an adventure every single day... I just want to say thanks for being part of that adventure.”
Other staff members who received awards commemorating there service to the district were: