UE presents Outstanding Educator of the Year awards for 2019

Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

On Wednesday, April 10, four educators in Vanderburgh County were recognized by surprise announcements as Outstanding Educators of the Year during the University of Evansville’s 28th 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 on May 3. This recognition program is sponsored by UE and the Evansville Courier & Press.

Presented with awards at their schools were:

Outstanding Elementary Educator of the Year: Jane Elgin, first grade teacher at McCutchanville Elementary

Jane Elgin has been an educator for 21 years. For the past four years, she has served as a first grade teacher at McCutchanville Elementary.

Throughout her academic career, Elgin has participated in countless hours of professional development and education. In 2018, she received National Board Teacher Certification/Early Childhood. Elgin is a response to intervention (RTI) committee representative. She was invited to join the governing board at Wesselman Woods Nature Society as an education representative.

Elgin’s teaching philosophy is based on a belief that each child deserves respect and empowerment. She acts on that philosophy in her classroom through planning, conversing, facilitating, and sharing learning.

“As a teacher, I try to keep education authentic and purposeful for children to bloom into proud and active citizens,” said Elgin. “My classroom offers students learning activities that align with required Indiana standards, but exceed standards and delve deeper into community possibilities.”

One of Elgin’s classes studied dog breeds and canine needs. That led to the topic of canine rescue, and her class partnered with academic intervention services students to make and donate dog treats to a canine rescue group. Another class studied migratory birds, and then partnered with Wesselman Woods Nature Center to build and plant pollinator/migratory beds on the school’s campus.

Outstanding Middle School Educator of the Year: Jennifer L. Stoll, special education teacher at Washington Middle School

Jennifer L. Stoll has taught for a total of 30 years, and has also served as a school counselor. Currently she is a special education teacher at Washington Middle School.

Stoll is a member of her school’s leadership team, a Social Studies Academic Team coach, and she is a tutor for Penny Lane, her school’s afterschool tutoring program. Stoll is also an RTI teacher for students who have fallen below testing guidelines in reading, and is a homebound teacher for several students. She has been nominated by the Washington Middle School PTSA as an educator of the year, and has been recognized as a school trainer for the school’s staff.

“All students learn differently,” Stoll explained when describing her teaching philosophy. “Every child has a story and a background, and that’s something teachers should keep in mind. I've always believed you can get more from your students if you have a relationship with them.”

Stoll said that her main goal as a teacher is to make sure her students have what they need to be successful in life. Some need clothes, while others need attention from an adult, and still others need structure.

“Whatever that need is,” said Stoll, “I will do my best to provide it.”

Outstanding High School Educator of the Year: Andrea Gordon, life skills teacher at North High School

Andrea Gordon has been a teacher for 19 years, and is currently a life skills teacher at North High School. She teaches grade levels 9-12, and beyond. Students can stay in her class until they are 22.

Gordon has worked with a group of teachers across Indiana and attended training sessions for the new I AM test. This test is the summative accountability assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities in grades 3-8 and 10.

Gordon believes that the classroom should be a safe, loving environment where all are welcome and included, and successes, no matter how big or small, are celebrated.

“My job as a teacher is to create an individual lesson for each student that enhances their specific learning style,” said Gordon. “This gives them the opportunity to be successful and more independent.”

Her overall goal is to get her students ready for life after high school and the working world.

In order to do that, her lessons that are geared toward functional skills that they will need in order to be successful and more independent adults.

Gordon’s classroom is set up so that her students can practice practical skills such as doing laundry, making beds, and cooking, along with academic work.

Outstanding Building Principal of the Year: John D. Skinner, principal at North High School

John D. Skinner has been an educator for 25 years, and is currently in his tenth year as principal of North High School.

Skinner has been named Indiana State Principal of the Year twice, and was named the Indiana Association of School Principals District 11 Principal of the Year in 2013.

Skinner said that he is just the lead learner as principal and that he and his staff are a team. Their common goal is to help all students reach their fullest potential.

“Not every student may earn a four-year college degree,” said Skinner, “but each of them should be ready for the next step, be it the workplace, a 2-year program, apprenticeship training, or a traditional four-year program.”

Skinner talks to students about the importance of getting their academic credits. He goes to summer school to cheer students on as they finish their classes.

“Showing up for kids is important. It's how you earn their respect and prove you care,” Skinner explained.

Skinner tries to be supportive of the teachers on his staff as well. As the school’s leader he encourages them to find success as a group and as individuals.

“My number one job is to make North High School and its students the greatest success story of our community.”

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