Sourcewell is hosting their Educators of Excellence Awards event on April 28 at 5:30 p.m. on Facebook Live.

The event looks to celebrate the efforts of area educators. The event will also include a message from keynote speaker Joe Beckman, co-founder of Till-360, which helps school districts have practices for social, emotional and behavior growth.

A recording of the complete event will also be shared at sourcewell-mn.gov as well as be available on Facebook.

Instructions to view the Facebook Live event:

  • Go to facebook.com/sourcewellgov.
  • If you aren’t logged into Facebook, you will see a pop-up prompting you to log in or create an account. You can skip the step by clicking "not now."
  • Scroll down the page until you see a Premiere box titled "Educators of Excellence - 2020 Virtual Celebration."
  • Click on the box to start watching.
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The Educators of Excellence honorees from the area include:

Bertha-Hewitt honoree:

  • Mary Kloster: Building meaningful relationships with students is Mary’s first priority. She rarely sits in her teaching chair, but rather would prefer to sit in the chair next to her students helping and tutoring one on one with her special education students.

Mary Kloster, Bertha-Hewitt High School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Mary Kloster, Bertha-Hewitt High School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

Freshwater honoree:

  • Joni Schwartz: Joni has worked with preschoolers with special needs for almost 15 years and continues to develop new strategies according to their needs. This year she volunteered to be in a pilot using a new data system with her students in order to track more accurate data of children. With the information she learns, she can better focus interventions and help other ECSE teachers become more data directed and efficient.

Joni Schwartz, Freshwater Education District.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell
Joni Schwartz, Freshwater Education District. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell

Menahga honorees:

  • Molly Peterson: Molly is an instrumental member of the fifth-grade team as a distance-learning teacher. Organized and quick to adapt, Molly uses innovative methods to reach her distance students, making them feel they are part of our middle school family.

Molly Peterson, Menahga Middle School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Molly Peterson, Menahga Middle School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

  • Ashley Lynne: Ashley understands the power of building positive relationships with her students and the impact it has on their social emotional well-being. She dedicates long hours to lesson planning for her students, communicating with families, and providing leadership and guidance to her colleagues through mentorship.

Ashley Lynne, Menahga High School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Ashley Lynne, Menahga High School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

  • Ashley Walvatne: Ashley is known as someone who helps anyone, anytime. She knows every student in the school and who their siblings are. She works hard to connect with every single student in her class and remembers them long after they’ve moved on. She steps up for her team all the time. She is an incredible leader and team player.

Ashely Walvatne, Menahga Elementary School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Ashely Walvatne, Menahga Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

Sebeka honorees:

  • Heidi Huotari: Heidi has been the preschool teacher in Sebeka for the past 15 years. She is highly respected by our parents, loved by her students, and continues to display the qualities of a teacher we all want in our buildings. Our preschool program is second to none because of Heidi’s leadership and the strong support system she is surrounded with that serves the social/emotional and academic needs of our preschool students.

Heidi Huotari, Sebeka Elementary School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Heidi Huotari, Sebeka Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

  • Sheree Polman: When students enter Sheree’s room, they are always greeted with a loud, “Hello!” and a huge smile. Students are excited to attend her classes and will work hard for her. With Sheree’s love of literature, she brings classic material into her room and relates it to what is happening in her students’ lives.

Sheree Polman, Sebeka High School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Sheree Polman, Sebeka High School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

Staples-Motley honorees:

  • Kimberly Prestridge: Kim has the dedication and drive to support teachers and students to help all involved be successful. Through her position as student success interventionist, she helps students take ownership, reflect, and make good choices.

Kimberly Prestridge, Staples-Motley Elementary School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Kimberly Prestridge, Staples-Motley Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

  • Phyl Runzel: Throughout the years, Phyl has been a dedicated educator, mentor, and leader to not only her students, but their families and her colleagues. This past year has been no exception —frankly, it highlighted her talents and gifts as an educator.

Phyl Ruzel, Staples-Motley Middle-High School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Phyl Ruzel, Staples-Motley Middle-High School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

Verndale honorees:

  • Nick Bunio: Nick is a strong educational leader who takes pride in his content delivery. His ability to connect with students shows through their music knowledge progression. Nick is dedicated and goes above and beyond to ensure he is meeting the needs of all students.

Nick Bunio, Verndale Elementary School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Nick Bunio, Verndale Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

  • Kelly Youngbauer: Kelly dedicates a tremendous amount of planning time to ensure her students receive the most relevant content on a daily basis. She is committed to the success of all of her students, and this shows through her enthusiasm and passion for education.

Kelly Youngbauer, Verndale High School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Kelly Youngbauer, Verndale High School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

Wadena-Deer Creek honorees:

  • Sheri Holst: Sheri is the definition of a Teacher of Excellence. As a high school science teacher, she is tasked with helping students understand very difficult content. She has an incredible ability for doing this. No teacher in our school district does a better job of looking at standards and outcomes and helping our students achieve competency in them.

Sheri Holst, Wadena-Deer Creek High School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Sheri Holst, Wadena-Deer Creek High School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

  • Fay Pary: Fay works tirelessly to set up individualized programming for students and is always willing to lend a hand to colleagues. She makes her school better by learning all she can about best practices in her field of autism spectrum disorders and emotional behavioral disorders.

Fay Pary, Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Fay Pary, Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

Paraprofessionals of Excellence award recipients: This award is given to two individuals who have impacted both students and staff through their work.

  • Shelly Franklin from Menahga Elementary: Shelly runs a top-notch library! She is always ready to help students find books they need and is very knowledgeable about the authors and books students like. She’s also always willing to help out any staff whether they need a bunch of books or help with a computer problem. She’s always willing to listen, and if you have a question, she will do her best to get the answer for you.

Shelly Franlkin, Menahga Elementary School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Shelly Franlkin, Menahga Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

Support Staff of Excellence award recipient: This new award recognizes a support staff member who has demonstrated innovation and leadership that has positively impacted students and fellow staff.

  • Christy Boelz from Staples-Motley Elementary: Christy is the kitchen lead at Staples Motley Elementary. She impacts students on a daily basis with her smile, care, and great music. She leads a team that not only knows how to have fun with students, but makes sure they are getting good, hot food choices each day and that they will enjoy and fill their bellies. Kids don't miss a chance to have a great breakfast and lunch under the direction of this fun lunch lady. Her ways of decorating and dressing up while playing fun music makes it a place that students want to visit every day.

Christy Boelz, Staples Motley Elementary School.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Christy Boelz, Staples Motley Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021

Silver Lining Awards of Excellence: The COVID-19 pandemic, and all the challenges that came with it, have brought out the best in some people. This awards category recognizes individuals who made lemonade from lemons.

  • Laura Kiser from Wadena-Deer Creek: Laura has been a champion and cheerleader for students and staff throughout the pandemic. As the middle/high school social worker, she has always been the school's greatest resource in terms of taking care of the emotional well-being of everyone. That role has obviously expanded with the mental/emotional stress of the past year. Her ability to listen to the needs of others is a gift few possess.

Laura Kiser, Wadena-Deer Creek Schools.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021
Laura Kiser, Wadena-Deer Creek Schools. Photo courtesy of Jenny Holmes/Sourcewell, 2021