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2016 WEM Educator Award Brunch

Six Outstanding Educators Receive Awards Totaling $90,000
Synergy & Leadership Exchange has announced that educators and academic coaches from Minneapolis Public Schools, Mora Public Schools, St. Cloud Area School District, Glencoe-Silver Lake Public Schools, Cambridge Isanti Schools and West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area Schools have been named as recipients of WEM Foundation Outstanding Educator Awards in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to student achievement.
Two honorees are named in each of three categories and each receive $15,000: Teacher Achievement Awards, recognizing exemplary teachers who support, inspire and assist students to attain greater learning as evidenced by student achievement; Academic Challenge Coach Awards, recognizing classroom teachers who are exemplary coaches of student teams who participate and compete in academic challenges endorsed by the Minnesota Academic Council; and Ethics in Education Awards, recognizing exemplary educators who embody ethical behavior and promote ethical development for students through classroom or school activities, policies or curriculum.
The 2016 WEM Foundation Outstanding Educator Award honorees are:
Teacher Achievement Award:
Christian Houdek has been teaching for 18 years and currently teaches fourth and fifth grade at Armatage Montessori School in Minneapolis. In addition, Houdek has been teaching graduate level Montessori Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin River Falls for three years. “Christian is a master teacher who understands the importance of differentiation, visioning for each individual student’s success and strategies to ensure every child can reach their full potential under his guidance,” said Principal Joan Franks. The Montessori Method was developed 100 years and is unique, hands-on approach to learning. Houdek believes the specific materials (termed "manipulatives" in traditional education) enhance a student's ability to learn. Students in his classroom simultaneously, and successfully, work on wide range of topics at varying skill levels.  “The use of manipulatives with built-in controls for error is an effective way to get kids engaged at their instructional levels,” states Houdek.
Judy Nygard Broekemeier has been teaching for 36 years and currently teaches elementary art at Fairview Elementary School in Mora. In addition she chairs her building's staff development team, serves as the district’s fine arts coordinator, and is involved in ongoing research and professional development using resources from the Perpich Center for Arts Education, Cowles Center for Dance and the Minnesota State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils. “Mrs. Broekemeier's dedication of putting in hours upon hours to write grants from 1992 to present has earned $165,000 over the years,” said Principal Nichole Laven. “These grant funds have provided students with educational opportunities to work with local artists, digital artists, participate in distance learning projects and continue art camps throughout the summer months for children who are looking to expand their experiences with arts.”
Academic Challenge Coach Award:
Jennifer Doom has been teaching and coaching for 17 years. She currently teaches high school science and health careers and coaches Knowledge Bowl at Tech High School in St. Cloud. “Ms. Doom understands the challenges of today's adolescents and has the patience to allow each student to reach beyond their potential,” said Charlie Eisenreich, Tech High School principal. “Through relationship building, Ms. Doom has inspired her Knowledge Bowl students to work together as a cohesive group bringing consistent success every year.” Over the past 16 seasons, under Doom’s guidance, the Knowledge Bowl team has advanced to the state competition 12 times and grown in size from 23 students participating to 40 students. In addition to her teaching and coaching, Doom serves as an advisor for the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) chapter at her school, a national career and technical student organization for those interested in healthcare. 
Rebekah Haddad has been teaching and coaching for four years. She currently teaches middle school and high school agriculture and serves as the Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School in Glencoe. The FFA program has grown to a membership of 75 students under Haddad’s leadership. Last year, one of the FFA teams placed in the top five in the state. Haddad is also continuing to grow the Supervised Agriculture Experience portion of FFA, integrating this component into the agriculture classes in the form of Agri-Science Fair, allowing students to participate in active and relevant research. “One of the most important assets Mrs. Haddad possess is her ability to let students fail first to succeed. She recognizes that from failure comes learning. It is not important to have the correct answer on the first attempt. She provides students with the resources and experiences to allow them to solve their own problems,” shares a coworker. In addition to teaching and coaching, Haddad started an FFA alumni chapter that promotes leadership events and sponsors scholarships for students.
Ethics in Education Award:
Carla Allen has been teaching for 10 years and currently serves as an interventionist and STEAM (Science, Technology, Environment, Arts, Math) coordinator for School For All Seasons (SFAS) in Isanti. “Ms. Allen has this innate ability of being able to get to know each of her students and uses that knowledge to challenge them while making their talents feel valued,” shared a colleague. “Every student has an important place in her classroom. She sets them up for success and they flourish under her teaching.” Allen’s biggest passion in teaching is guiding students to see and understand diverse perspectives. She believes this is a must in order for them to think beyond themselves, and what better way than through real-life moral issues. Many times she finds that it's not as much about right and wrong as it is about learning to walk in another person's shoes. She coaches her students to see diverse perspectives in the subjects she teaches and through their interactions with each other.
Heather Wilsey has been teaching for 12 years and currently teaches first grade at Garlough Environmental Magnet School in West St. Paul. In addition to teaching, Wilsey serves as the co-coordinator on the school’s equity committee, which facilitates awareness and integration of different perspectives in order to advocate for minority families within the school better. One of our Garlough’s mottos reveals an environmental ethic: If you find it outside and it is part of nature, look at it. But leave it where it is so others can have the same experience. Mrs. Wilsey feels living that out shows a respect for the environment but also for the equity and justice of allowing others to share a positive or negative experience. Her students are empowered by their understanding of nature, their adopted environmental ethic and their newly discovered ability to transmit these elements to other people in their lives.
The WEM Educator Awards program was created by the WEM Foundation, and is administered by Synergy & Leadership Exchange (Synergy) in partnership with The Minnesota Service Cooperatives (MSC). The WEM Foundation supports teachers and their important role in helping all children achieve academically. The awards program, now in its 18th year, has helped recognize education’s often "unsung heroes" and educators who meet the challenges and opportunities of teaching in a variety of settings.
Educators are first nominated for the WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program by students, parents, colleagues or community members. Those who accept the nomination provide additional information for consideration by Synergy and a blue ribbon selection panel, which reviews and ranks the nominees.

2016 honorees


Guest speaker Kent Pekel, Ed.D

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