Left: Fouse Principal Robb Stranges, Teacher of the Month Betsy Denney, and WEF representatives Sandy Ziegler and Mollie Lynch. Center: Walnut Springs Assistant Principal Ernest Clinkscale, Principal Becca Yanni, Teacher of the Month Kelley Ferguson, Ziegler, Lynch and Assistant Principal Stephen Smalley. Right: Lynch, Ziegler, Teacher of the Month Liz Schar, and Westerville Central Principal Tom Lanier.
The Westerville Education Foundation (WEF) named three educators Teacher of the Month for December – Betsy Denney, Fouse Elementary School; Kelley Ferguson, Walnut Springs Middle School; and Liz Schar, Westerville Central High School.
Betsy Denney is described by her nominator as engaging and empowering. Betsy’s nominator says, “Mrs. Denney teaches students to lead and empowers them to make decisions for themselves. Mrs. Denney teaches the parents to let go and let our children flourish, be independent, make mistakes, and move on!” Mrs. Denny’s guidance around bullying is a relevant and sometimes difficult item to tackle in the classroom. After a guidance lesson on bullying where a student shared their experiences she was quick with a call to action. “Mrs. Denney immediately looked at her class and said, ‘He is ours. We take care of him always. Look out for him.’ As his parents we talk often with him about the sometimes cruel world we live in and what he may encounter. However, we never expected a teacher to take ownership and make such a powerful statement as well as place some accountability on the rest of the class to help my son.” Her nominator concludes by saying, “We believe education is more than text books and test scores – it’s social and emotional well-being for all!”
Kelley Ferguson is described by her nominator as supportive and an advocate for her students. “Ms. Ferguson has helped us in understanding fully about his IEP for 8th grade while would transition us into high school and an idea of how that will go,” says her nominator. Ms. Ferguson gives individualized support to her students to make sure they understand what they need in the classroom and how to obtain it. “Her believing in my son meant more than she would ever know. As a parent, she made me more confident about schools still having teachers who care.” Her nominator concludes by saying, “She makes it easy for her kids to come talk to her without making them feel bad. She even got through to some kids with behavioral issues just by showing them the support from a teacher so they know everyone doesn’t judge you by the way your look or talk.”
Liz Schar is described by her nominator as inclusive and supportive. “Liz inspires me to seek out those students who may need more than just educational support. She has reminded me that some students need an out of the box type of structure to survive in our school form day to day,” her nominator said. Mrs. Schar provides a safe space for students who don’t fit in to the typical social and behavioral constructs. “Our administrative team has created a Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) to change the way we initiate consequences for behaviors or actions within our school. Liz has been initiating these types of plans with students who are not even in her classrooms this year to make sure all students feel welcome.” Her nominator concludes by saying, “Her open door policy to all students makes her a great teacher and ally to many students.
The Westerville Education Foundation’s Teacher of the Month Program is sponsored by Education First Credit Union and ThisWeek Community News, with support from Otterbein University. The Mission of the Westerville Education Foundation is to enrich the learning experience and broaden the minds of our students through the funding and support of innovative educational programs. To nominate, give or join, please visit www.WestervilleEducationFoundation.com.