Evansville Living - July/August 2013

Page 142


Special Advertising Section

Award Winners on the Rise EVSC educators better our learning community through their acts of service By Michael Wade

Congratulations Class of 2013! Average Merit Scholarship offer per graduate: $207,600

• Premier College Guidance Program • Small, Student-Focused Classes • Global Language from age 3 For More Information

To learn how Evansville Day School can prepare your child for college and for life, call us or visit our website.

812.476.3039 • evansvilledayschool.org

3400 North Green River Road • Evansville, IN 47715 138 July | August 2013 Evansville Living

One teacher established an after-school and summer program for students. Another teacher does everything she can to make sure her students learn the material they need to know. And still another teacher led a student project to build new water systems in Zimbabwe and Haiti. Sherry Ocker, Debbie Hartz, and Stephanie Steele are among a group of Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. teachers who received awards this year. This year, the school corporation has had more local, regional, state, national, and international award winners than ever before, according to Marsha Jackson, chief communications director. Ocker, a fourth grade teacher at Highland Elementary School, was honored with the Jefferson Award for her work in establishing Westbrook Evolution, an after-school and summer program for students in the Central High School district who live at the Westbrook Mobile Home Park. The program began in June 2012. It provides students with snacks, helps children with their homework, and offers social and educational programs. “I wanted to build relationships with kids and families,” Ocker says. “I wanted to be someone for the kids to talk to.” Ocker has been involved in many initiatives to help her prepare for the Westbrook Evolution. She has taught many after-school programs and also taught at Cedar Hall Elementary School for 12 years. Ocker wanted to do something to help the students who needed an extra push, so she asked Principal Beth Johns if she could act as a sort of a social worker for the school. One night it came to her that she could use the construction trailers that the EVSC was getting rid of. Everything inside the trailer has been donated. Ocker’s next step is to apply for a grant to open a pre-school and eventually a community garden. “Sherry is like a mother to all the kids,” says Heather Stalling, a parent helper. “A lot of these kids got in trouble before they began coming here, and now, they don’t. We are like a big family.” Ocker was honored for her award at the national Jefferson Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 19. This year, the Indiana State Teachers Association and Horace Mann Hoosier Educator of the Year Award went to Debbie Hartz, the district league coach for Innovative and Alternative Models. “Deb is an extraordinary educator who has the ability to wear many different hats — all at the same time,” says Karen Scheessele, director of Alternative Education and working principal of Academy for Innovative Studies-Diamond Campus High School. “No task is ever too daunting for her. She identifies the needs of students and staff and moves forward — always with a

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