UE Presents Outstanding Educators of the Year Award for 2017

Posted: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

On Wednesday, April 5, four educators in Vanderburgh County were recognized by surprise announcements as Outstanding Educators of the Year during the University of Evansville’s 26th annual presentation in the Vanderburgh County schools. The competition recognizes current classroom teachers and building principals in grades K-12 with at least three years of experience.

The four winners will be formally recognized during the University’s annual banquet. This recognition program is sponsored by UE and the Evansville Courier & Press. 

Presented with awards at their schools were:

• Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Jackelyn Holtz, Vogel Elementary School

• Middle School Teacher of the Year: Tonya Weinzapfel, Thompkins Middle School

• High School Teacher of the Year: Brad Lamey, Central High School

• Building Principal of the Year: Kristine Eichholz, Academy for Innovative Studies, First Avenue

Outstanding Elementary Educator of the Year: Jackelyn Holtz, first grade teacher, Vogel Elementary School

Jackelyn Holtz has been a teacher for seven years. The last one and a half has been spent at Vogel Elementary School, where she is a first grade teacher. 

In addition to teaching reading, writing, and math, Holtz serves as the high ability teacher for first grade. She is also the Lexia intervention trainer for grades K-2. Additionally she is a member of her school’s positive behavioral intervention and support committee.

Holtz’s teaching philosophy is to teach “with love.” Her goal is to create a safe and loving classroom environment, one in which her students feel comfortable enough to take risks and try new things. Holtz teaches her students not only academic subjects but also how to be compassionate and kind to each other.

Holtz loves her job and feels lucky that she is able to come to work in the classroom at Vogel Elementary every day. “I could not imagine being anywhere else any day of the week.”

Outstanding Middle School Educator of the Year: Tonya Weinzapfel, Thompkins Middle School

Tonya Weinzapfel has been an educator for 25 years. For the majority of that time she has been a middle school teacher at Thompkins Middle School, where she instructs seventh and eighth graders in math.

Along with her work in the classroom, Weinzapfel is involved in peer tutoring and with the data team. She has been a member of the leadership, social/remembrance, and textbook adoption committees, and served as dance coach and track coach.

“Every student, every day” is Weinzapfel’s teaching philosophy. She strives each day to help each of her students learn math standards to the best of their ability.

She believes math is a skill her students will need throughout their lives. To help them understand the subject, she relates it to real-world situations and teaches it as if it were a foreign language.

As in language, she said, the vocabulary of math is important. “If you don’t know what’s being asked of you, you can’t answer the question.”

Outstanding High School Educator of the Year: Brad Lamey, Central High School

Brad Lamey has taught for 26 years, 15 at Central High School. For the last six, he has taught pre-engineering and technology to all levels of students, including those with special needs.

Lamey is a sponsor of Central’s University of Evansville High School Changemaker Challenge team. Last year the team proposed a citywide bike share program at the contest. Although the team didn’t win, the concept caught on, and they were asked to help with planning the bike share program begun recently in Evansville. Lamey is also a sponsor of Central’s Super Mileage Team, an extension of his engineering design and development class.

Lamey has taught traditional lecture style classes; hands-on, lab-based classes; and project-based classes. He believes there is value in all of these classroom styles. Whatever the educational process, Lamey feels that it is important for students to become life-long learners.

“Students need to develop the ability to understand a problem,” explained Lamey, “research that problem and make an educated decision based on available knowledge, experience and information.”

Outstanding Building Principal of the Year: Kristine Eichholz, Academy for Innovative Studies, First Avenue

Kristine Eichholz has been an educator for a decade and principal of the Academy for Innovative Studies, First Avenue, for six and half years. She received the Evansville Leadership Individual Educator’s Award in 2016.

“My job is to help students find success, no matter what it takes,” said Eichholz.

She keeps constant contact with parents, working with them to clear their child’s path to a diploma and a career.

Eichholz finds creative ways to help students graduate on time or as quickly as possible and is dedicated to finding opportunities for students to obtain college credits or certification before graduating.  With community partners, she developed a nursing assistant program in which students earn certification while earning high school credit. A partnership with Ivy Tech allows students to attend classes in an early childhood development program that can lead to an associate’s degree.

Eichholz feels that a school should help students through challenges and celebrate their achievements.

“I have the best job in the world,” she said.

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