UE Presents Outstanding Educators of the Year Award for 2018

Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Four educators in Vanderburgh County were recognized on Wednesday, April 4 as Outstanding Educators of the Year during the University of Evansville’s 27th 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 winners will be formally recognized during the University’s annual banquet. This program is sponsored by UE and the Evansville Courier & Press. 

Presented with awards at their schools were:

• Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Amber Santana, Glenwood Leadership Academy

• Middle School Teacher of the Year: Douglas Goodwin, Helfrich Park STEM Academy

• High School Teacher of the Year: Jon Carl, FJ Reitz High School

• Building Principal of the Year: Michele Branson-Bopp, Washington Middle School

Outstanding Elementary Educator of the Year: Amber Santana, fourth grade teacher, Glenwood Leadership Academy

Amber Santana has been a teacher for six years, and is currently a fourth grade math and science teacher at Glenwood Leadership Academy. In addition to her teaching duties, Santana serves as a PBIS Tier 1 coach, is a member of the Leadership Team and Staff Cares, and is a PLC leader.

Santana’s philosophy of education is to teach “the whole child, beginning with love. Students should feel like you love and care for them as a person first and then as a student.”

Her personal interest in her students is not limited to the classroom. She also attends outside activities that they are involved in such as football games, basketball games and dance recitals.

Santana strives to be a cheerleader for her students and encourages them to continue being life-long learners.

“I remain invested in them as people and as students,” she said. “I cheer on their successes long after they leave my classroom.”

Outstanding Middle School Educator of the Year: Douglas Goodwin, Helfrich Park STEM Academy

Douglas Goodwin has been an educator for 15 years. For the past three, he has been the band director at Helfrich Park STEM Academy. He teaches a comprehensive band program that includes a fifth-sixth grade beginner program, sixth-eighth grade concert band program, jazz and chamber music groups, and a symphonic orchestra.

The Helfrich Park Varsity Band was the only EVSC school to receive a Distinction Rating in the advanced category at the 2017 ISSMA Organizational Contest. Some of his students have received a Gold Rating at the State ISSMA Solo and Ensemble Contest, an achievement generally reserved for high school students.

His teaching philosophy is centered around setting goals for success and perseverance through individual growth and ensemble development.

“I show respect for my students by believing in what they can achieve,” said Goodwin. “I challenge them to reach further to achieve beyond their peers. My students know that I’m tough because I care.”

Outstanding High School Educator of the Year: Jon Carl, FJ Reitz High School

Jon Carl has been a teacher for 22 years. For 20 of those years, he has been a social studies teacher at FJ Reitz High School. His subject areas are advanced placement US history and honors US history.

He is the history academic Super Bowl coach at Reitz, and a member of the Advanced Placement US History Professional Learning Community for EVSC and chairman of the US History Professional Learning community for Reitz.

Carl received the Sagamore of the Wabash award in 2015 for his contribution and dedication to the field of education.

He said that his teaching philosophy can be summed up in the phrase: feel the history.

“I want to make history come alive for my students,” he explained. “My goal is to make history real and tangible. Not a boring list of places and dates but a collection of fascinating stories of events and people that created the country we live in today.”

Outstanding Building Principal of the Year: Michele Branson-Bopp, Washington Middle School

Michele Branson-Bopp has been an educator for 17 years and is currently in her fourth year as principal of Washington Middle School. With a goal of school improvements, only two years into her tenure the school is no longer rated an F school by the IDOE School Improvement List.

Branson-Bopp illustrates her teaching philosophy with a quote from Nelson Mandela – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

She believes that the most influential change makers in a school community are classroom teachers and school staff. At Washington Middle School, teams of teachers, school psychologist, behavior interventions, administrators, social workers and counselors address the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students.

In addition to academics, she explained, her school works to “teach kids how to overcome adversity, address conflict, and improve. Our motto is to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today.”

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