Janesville School District honors 16 staff member of the year award-winners
The Janesville School District will honor this year's teachers, administrators and support staff members of the year at a reception Wednesday at the Pontiac Convention Center.
The Teacher of the Year and Staff of the Year recipients are chosen from nominees by a committee of the district's administrators, staff members, parents and community leaders.
Principals and other administrators were selected based on performance standards and the results of parent and staff surveys.
This year's award winners, some with submitted comments, are:
-- Deb Blazer, Co-Support Staff Member of the Year. Blazer started her career with the Janesville School District in 1999 as secretary to the manager of administrative services.
Blazer moved became secretary to the director of administrative and human resource in November 2001. She was selected to be the assistant board clerk in December 2011.
“Deb has been a true asset to our school district by setting an outstanding example of a person who touches everyone they en-counter,” said school board President Greg Ardrey.
-- Allison DeGraaf, Co-Administrator of the Year. DeGraaf started her career with the school district as a kindergarten teacher at Jefferson and Lincoln elementary schools from 1991 to 1997. She worked as a learning support teacher from 1997 to 2011 at Madison and Kennedy elementary schools.
In the 2011-12 school year, DeGraaf added building coordinator to her title, and in 2012 was named principal of Kennedy Elementary School.
-- Jessica Grandt-Turke, Co-Administrator of the Year. Grandt-Turke worked for two years in the treatment foster care system before starting her career in education as a school social worker in the Lake Geneva area schools. She was hired by the Janesville School District in 2002 as a school social worker at Wilson Elementary School, where she worked for nine years.
Grandt-Turke was appointed building coordinator at Harrison Elementary School in fall 2011. She was selected as the principal of Harrison Elementary School in spring 2012.
-- Kathleen Jacque, Co-Support Staff Member of the Year. Jacque has worked as a special-education aide at Washington Elementary School since September 2003.
“Mrs. Jacque has become a very important part of my daughter's life because she is the person who cares for her and keeps her safe during school time. She always has a smile on her face and a humorous, positive attitude. She has a special place in our hearts for everything she is doing for kids,” said parent Marion Russell.
-- Michelle Kahl, Co-Support Staff Member of the Year. Kahl started working for the Janesville School District in 2002 as the human resource secretary. She has been secretary to the director of human and administrative resources since 2011.
“Michelle is an exemplary employee when it comes to customer service. She always smiles and acknowledges anyone who comes in to the office, even when she is on the phone. Michelle is committed to making each process and protocol as efficient and effective as possible. She actively seeks innovative and creative ways to improve how we do business,” said Harrison Elementary School Principal Jessica Grandt-Turke.
-- Kurt Krueger, Co-Administrator of the Year. Krueger joined the Janesville School District in 1994 as a physical education teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School and remained there until 2000, when he was hired as the health teacher at Franklin Middle School.
In 2005, Krueger accepted the position of learning support teacher at Franklin Middle School and remained in that position until 2009, when he was hired as principal of Jefferson Elementary School.
-- Chris Laue, Co-Administrator of the Year. Laue started his career in education in 1993 as a high school agriculture teacher Geneseo, Ill. In 1994, he took the position of agriculture teacher at Fort Atkinson middle and high schools. In 2000 he became assistant principal of Fort Atkinson Middle School.
Laue was named assistant principal of Janesville Craig High School in 2009. He became principal of Janesville Parker High School in July 2011.
-- Jeanne Lee, Co-Support Staff Member of the Year. Lee started working for the district as a clerical team member/noon hour supervisor at Marshall Middle School in February 1992. In August 2007, she became secretary to the principal at Wilson Elementary School, where she remains.
“Jeanne has a positive attitude, exceptional organizational skills and a commitment to the students and families of Wilson. Her kindness and quiet way of helping makes Wilson a wonderful place to work,” said teacher Lisa Fuelleman
-- Megan Martin, Co-Support Staff Member of the Year. Martin started working as a food service helper at Lincoln Elementary School in 2004. She has worked as lunch hostess at Lincoln since January 2009.
“Megan pairs her kind words with enthusiasm and motivation for the kids to work hard at being the best they can be. She is never too busy when it comes to student choices or lending a listening ear. She truly wants the best for kids and proves that any job area within a school can make a difference in their lives,” said teacher Brenda Wenzel.
-- Laurie Meehan, Co-Administrator of the Year. Meehan started her career with the district in February 1995 as a school nutrition assistant at Roosevelt Elementary School. From 1995 to 2000, she worked as the lunch hostess at Roosevelt. She has been the assistant manager of school nutrition service for the district since 2000.
”I have never worked with an assistant who produces more positive results in my 31 years of management than Laurie Meehan. Her priorities are in the right place, she has high standards, a strong work ethic, and she is all about what is best for the students,” said Manager of Food Services Jim Degan.
-- Sonja Robinson, Co-Support Staff Member of the Year. Robinson started her teaching career in middle schools in Maryland and Kansas, and at the high school level in Ohio. She started working for the Janesville School District in 2010 as a youth advocate.
In 2011, Robinson accepted the position of diversity/outreach specialist for the district, where she remained until August 2013, when she was selected as business education teacher at Parker High School.
“She seeks out opportunities in which she can be a vessel to improve situations. I have witnessed her commitment and heartfelt sincerity when dealing with students in need. She serves as a role model in the district and consistently reiterates that true success is yielded through dedication, hard work, and effort,” said Director of Student Services Yolanda Cargile.
-- Julie Roth, Co-Support Staff Member of the Year. Roth started working for the Janesville School District in March 2003 as a bus aide. In 2004, she moved to Adams Elementary School, where she has worked in various capacities as a special-education aide She currently works with Adams students in second and fourth grades.
"Julie encourages students to strive for excellence, to love reading and math and to respect each other. She often reminds all of us, by her actions, to give our best for our students every minute of every day—to wear a smile, to have faith," said teacher Stacey Petter.
-- Amy Sheridan, Co-Administrator of the Year. Sheridan joined the Janesville School District in 1998 as a seventh-grade teacher at Edison Middle School. In 2011, she took the position of coordinator of talented-and-gifted education, assessment and math for the district.
“Amy invests, invests, invests to provide the best education possible for the children of Janesville,” said Julie DeCook, coordinator of communication arts.
-- Dana Simmons, Co-Teacher of the Year. Simmons joined the district in 2005 as a third-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, where she taught until June 2013.
Simmons is now the academic learning coach for Lincoln and Van Buren elementary schools.
“Mrs. Simmons realizes that children learn in various ways and goes out of her way to make sure that what she teaches is effective for each student,” said kindergarten teacher Carrie Mergen.
-- Charlie Urness, Co-Administrator of the Year. Urness first taught eighth-grade social studies in Yuma, Ariz. from 1993-99.
Urness returned to Wisconsin in 1999 to teach social studies at Brodhead High School.
Urness became principal at Brodhead Middle School in 2001 and remained in that position for nine years.
In 2010, Urness started working for the Janesville School District as the principal of Franklin Middle School.
-- Amanda Werner, Co-Teacher of the Year. Werner first worked for the district as an English language learners aide at Madison Elementary School, from 2006-08.
She started teaching fifth grade at Adams Elementary School in fall 2009 and in fall 2013 accepted a position as teacher in the Challenge Program at Madison Elementary School.
“Mrs. Werner builds strong relationships with her students and creates a loving classroom community. These relationships allow her to really know and motivate students based on individual interests,” said Adams Principal Sally Parks.