Sun Prairie’s Sandra Kowalczyk is Wisconsin’s Global Educator of the Year

From the Department of Public Instruction

Sandra Kowalczyk

WEAC Region 6 member Sandra Kowalczyk, a Sun Prairie middle school reading specialist, will receive the 2018-19 Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year award in a brief ceremony January 16 during the Patrick Marsh Middle School all staff meeting in Sun Prairie. 

State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor will present the award, commending Kowalczyk for her work to bring an international perspective to her classrooms and community.

“Developing global competence takes time. Sandra captures and sustains middle school students’ attention through global literature and face-to-face opportunities to learn from people of other cultural backgrounds,” said Stanford Taylor. “She is generous with her time, sharing successful practices with fellow educators here and across the world.” 

Fellow teachers, parents, colleagues, friends, or students can nominate a teacher for the Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year Award, which recognizes those who provide high-quality learning opportunities for students and make exemplary contributions to the profession as it relates to global education. In addition to her classroom use of literature to awaken social justice and cultural experiences, Kowalczyk brings international guests to the classroom and school community and facilitates the Go Global Club, an after-school opportunity for students. A parent who supported her nomination noted that Ms. K prepares students to have the cultural curiosity, understanding, and skills needed to be a young global citizen. 

Kowalczyk graduated from Wild Rose High School and traveled to the former Soviet Union at age 17. Since catching the travel-learning bug, she has visited five continents, gaining experiences and insights to share with her students. Her professional commitment to global education brings artists and authors into her classes and community. She builds relationships with schools abroad and shares her work through state, regional, national, and international education events.

To qualify as the Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year, a teacher must cultivate students’ global awareness, promote growth of global competencies, model and engage colleagues in best practices for global learning, and employ innovative approaches to building global knowledge and skills. The Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year is selected from among nominees by the State Superintendent’s International Education Council. The recognition includes a $1,000 honorarium from Madison area Rotary Clubs. 

Kowalczyk is a former Wisconsin Middle Level Teacher of the Year and serves on the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Council. She received the Association for Middle Level Education 2018 Educator of the Year Award at the association’s conference last October. She earned National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification in 2009 in Literacy: Reading-Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood. 

62 WEAC members earn National Board Certification in 2018

Sixty-two WEAC members recently joined the ranks of Nationally Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) in Wisconsin, and 26 renewed their certification. Known as one of the top honors in the profession, NBCTs are assessed by their peers on 5 core propositions of accomplished teaching. WEAC is the state leader in providing candidate support; WEAC supports include intensive summer Jump Start training, monthly in-person cohorts, an online prep course, virtual mentors, and a winter writing retreat.

“The support that I received from WEAC was so instrumental that I do not believe I would have passed without it. It’s hard to believe that it was all free to WEAC members,” said Sarah Schnuelle a recently certified NBCT and educator in Jefferson.

If you’re interested in information on becoming Nationally Board Certified please click here or e-mail nbctsupport@weac.org.

2018 New NBCTs

TAMMIE ALEKNA
HOLLY BAUKIN
MEGAN BERGER
MOLLY BILSE
JILL BOECK
CARLA BONSIGNORE
KATHERINE BONTEMPO
BARBARA BORRE
RACHEL BURKEL
NATALIE COOK
SAMANTHA CRUZ
ANNMARIE DAHL
ANDREA DINNDORF
TRACY DOBKOSKI
AMANDA DOHMS
EMILY DRAIN
VIRGINIA ELSEN
BRENDA ERDMAN
MARY ANN FEUTZ
KARLY FRISCH
MARGO GOFF
ERICA GRETEBECK
SARAH GREY
LAURA GROCHOWSKI
MATTHEW HARMON
ANITA HARRISON
KATHRYN HATLESTAD
KARI HEDEMAN
SARAH HILL
ANDREW HOLDMANN
CHRISTINE HUMBERG
EMILY INSTENES
ABIGAIL KEAN
AMY KLEIN
AMY KLINE
LEIGH KOHLMANN
ERICA KOHLMEYER ZENKE
CHRISTINA LADURON
DIANA LEHNHERR
DAWN LEMIRAND-POEPPING
ELLEN LINNIHAN
ANDREW LIPSKI
ANN MARCHANT
SARA MCKITTRICK
JESSICA NARLOW
CORYNN NORDSTROM
ERIN PETERS
SUSAN PETERSON
KEVIN PODEWELTZ
JESSICA REED
JEAN ROBINSON
SHANON RODENBERG
LINDSAY RUDEBUSCH
AMY SCHAEFER
SARAH SCHNUELLE
LEXA SPETH
HEATHER STERNITZKY
DIANA STRATTON
MICHAEL TAMBLYN
DAVID WALKER
NATHANIEL WEISS
JOSIE WIESER

2018 NBCT Renewals

DANA ACAMOVIC
CHRISTINE AHRENS
CATHERINE ANDERSON
M GILLIAN ARBUCKLE KING
EMILY CHERONE
JAMI COLLINS
MOLLY COUGHLIN
MARY FASSBENDER
RACHEL GROVE
THOMAS GRUNDER
ELLEN GRUNDER
JAY JOHNSON
ERIN KRASE-MINCHK
ANN KRONCKE
ANDY KRUGER
REBECCA LETTER
PAUL MAJORS
CHERYL MIRACLE
KAREN REHORST PORRAS
JENNIFER SECOR
KIMBERLY SERENE
MARY SILVA
NICHOLAS SIREK
KATHRYN STEEDMAN
KIMBERLY TRENDEL
THERESE URBEN

We apologize if we missed you. If so, please send an e-mail to nbctsupport@weac.org.

Lindsey Guenther of Tomah is latest WEAC Badger Red for Public Ed winner!

Lindsey Guenther

Congratulations to Tomah teacher Lindsey Guenther, the latest winner of our WEAC Badger Red for Public Ed promotion! The honor goes to WEAC members in appreciation for their dedication to students. Recipients are treated to a UW Badger athletic event.

Lindsey will get VIP treatment at the November 30 UW Badger hockey game against Penn State at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Lindsey is entering her seventh year of teaching at LaGrange Elementary school in Tomah. She is a fourth grade teacher and works with a variety of students each and every day.

“I became a teacher mainly because I wanted to pay tribute to the efforts of all of my amazing teachers in the past,” Lindsey says. “Growing up, I had several teachers who made things hands-on and exciting. I have a similar approach to how I do things. I make sure I show my compassion for the topic and the relevance to history or everyday life and try to tier learning for my students.”

Lindsey shared the picture below of herself and her students from this past October when they were able to take a self guided tour of the State Capitol and meet their state representative, Nancy VanderMeer.

Lindsey was nominated by parent Nicole Renaud and colleague Kathleen Schoot.

Nicole said: “We had the pleasure of having Lindsey as our 4th grade teacher. My daughter is autistic and that year was a huge transition year for us, and Lindsey consistently went above and beyond to make sure that my daughter was prepared the best possible way for everything. She made social stories, extra directions and prepped alternative things for her when she didn’t have to. She did it all with a smile on her face, even when my daughter would be struggling and having a difficult time. We are thankful for her and the impact she had on us. She made a very difficult transition year bearable, and we can’t thank her enough.”

Kathleen said: “Lindsey is a fantastic teacher! She is SO enthusiastic about learning! She guides students to learning, each in their own individual way. She is loving and sets boundaries that each student is aware of to ensure each child has the right to learn in his/her own way. She adjusts learning material for all sorts of special needs students and just for those who need that little extra reassurance of their potential. She is very positive and happy. Every time you walk past her classroom someone is laughing with excitement!”

Visit weac.org/badger to nominate yourself or another deserving educator for a chance to win a drawing for Wisconsin athletic events throughout the school year.

South Milwaukee educators Hallie Schmeling and Joanna Rizzotto are Channel 12 Top Teachers

Two great active WEAC Region 7 members in South Milwaukee – Hallie Schmeling and Joanna Rizzotto – were honored with Channel 12 News’ Top Teacher award. Both teach at the REAL Academy, South Milwaukee’s educator-designed, in-house alternative education high school. The Channel 12 News story is full of insights and inspiration applicable to every educational setting.

At the REAL Academy, Joanna says, “the focus is on the whole child and relationships.” She says her approach to teaching is “to be open, to respond and not react, to guide.”

“The unique thing,” Hallie says, “is that we really come from the space that instead of me being the teacher that is putting information into kids, we’re more about they have it in them, they have their passions, they have strengths, they have things that just need to be drawn out of them.”

Thanks to WEAC Region 7 for sharing this story in its newsletter:

Watch the Channel 12 video:

September’s Top Teachers: Hallie Schmeling, Joanna Rizzotto; Real Academy

The Real Academy is South Milwaukee High School’s in-house alternative education high school. Not every student learns the same way. Our top teachers, Hallie Schmeling and Joanna Rizzotto, connect with their students on a personal level.

Madison’s Michael Jones is latest winner of the WEAC-UW Badger Red for Public Ed honor

Congratulations to Madison teacher Michael Jones, the latest winner of WEAC’s 2018 WEAC-UW Badger Red for Public Ed honor! The honor goes to WEAC members in appreciation for their dedication to students. Recipients are treated to a UW Badger athletic event. Michael will be honored at the UW Volleyball game October 21 at the UW Fieldhouse.

Michael, a WEAC and Madison Teachers Inc. member, is a Special Education teacher, entering his 10th year in the profession.

“I’ve been a proud union member for each of those years and am currently with the 8th graders at Black Hawk Middle School  in Madison,” Michael says. “I love what I do, I love the students and families I get to work with, and definitely I love my colleagues, all of whom I consider friends. I’m very lucky to be where I am and with the people I get to work with.”

Madison teacher Kerry Motoviloff nominated Michael, saying “He is a leader for ALL students lifting them at their toughest moments with grace and care.”

Visit weac.org/badger to nominate yourself or another deserving educator for a chance to win a drawing for Wisconsin athletic events throughout the school year.

Brad Laufenberg of New London is latest winner of WEAC’s Badger Red for Public Ed promotion

Brad Laufenberg with his 4th grade teaching partners at Parkview Elementary School, Erin Besaw (left) and Julie Cherf.

Congratulations to New London teacher Brad Laufenberg, the latest winner of WEAC’s Badger Red for Public Ed promotion! Brad wins tickets to the October 6 UW Football game against Nebraska at Camp Randall Stadium. The honor goes to WEAC members in appreciation for their dedication to students.

Brad, a 4th grade teacher at Parkview Elementary School in New London, has been a member of the local association’s Building Leadership Team, a Student Council advisor, a Fitness Center supervisor, and a tutor. In addition, he is a member of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team, a “news anchor” for the monthly PBIS videos, a member of the Building Safety Committee, and a cooperating teacher for a high school student interested in pursuing a degree in the education field.

Brad’s wife Toni is a high school special education teacher in the School District of New London, and they have a 4-year-old son Asher and a 2-year-old son Callen.

“I am very fortunate to have an amazing family, wonderful colleagues, and great friends,” Brad said. “My mother taught me how to be a teacher, and my father taught me how to be a painter. Both jobs require prep work, patience, and skill. More importantly, both jobs allow me an opportunity to be a part of a transformation process that helps people and places realize their potential.”

Visit weac.org/Badger to nominate yourself or another deserving educator for a chance to win a drawing for Wisconsin athletic events throughout the school year.

‘Each student is treated with the ultimate respect’

Michael Wilson

The Department of Public Education ConnectEd newsletter this week features Wisconsin’s Teachers of the Year, including Michael Wilson, a school counselor at St. Croix Falls High School, a member of WEAC Region 1, and Wisconsin’s 2019 Special Services Teacher of the Year.

In a column describing his approach to teaching, which boils down to treating each student with the ultimate respect, Wilson writes:

All students All of the Time: Michael Wilson

Throughout my years in education, I have seen a strong transformation from what used to be a cookie-cutter approach with students to more individualized focus and attention. It is clear that our students have more individual needs and our teachers are working to meet those needs.

As a school counselor and dean of students in a small school in a rural town in northwest Wisconsin, I have the unique opportunity to know every single one of our high school students. Each fall I make a point to interview our freshmen, one by one. I want to get to know them, their families, their hobbies and interests, and their needs. I also want them to know who I am and explain that I am their personal assistant in high school.

In education, the word equity can be interpreted as very complicated for some. My vision of equity in schools is a simple definition: All students, all of the time. As I work day to day with my students, I keep the thought process simple. It doesn’t matter who they are, what they look like, or where they came from, each student is treated with the ultimate respect and offered opportunities they need so they can reach their highest potential, goals, and dreams. The kid in cowboy boots who milks cows in the morning before school needs the same attention and guidance offered as the kid wearing flip-flops and cargo shorts, whose parents are both doctors.

Intentional conversations create intentional relationships. Talking with students and asking about their day, their weekend, or quite simply asking them how they are doing naturally creates positive, mutual, respectful relationships. Asking the right questions opens up many social and emotional doors. Educators not only can but should ask personal questions and build strong bonds with their students.

A two-way trusting relationship creates a safe environment for learning and growing. I have had conversations with students on topics ranging from hunting to fishing to horseback riding to reading. I ask students about things like their most recent athletic contest or what their parents do or about their new car. Students love to know we care. As educators, we hold a powerful position in influencing our students and a trust-based, two-way teacher-student relationship is essential. All students deserve this level of care and concern all of the time.

My advice to teachers, veterans or rookies, is to speak with every kid with an open and honest approach. Students who are struggling need to be asked if they are struggling. Students who are not doing well need to be asked why. Students who have great successes should be celebrated. Students with depression or suicidal thoughts need to be asked directly about them. Our kids need to know that we genuinely care and are there for them, as a whole child.

Ask questions, share stories, and let these kids know you are not only a teacher but a human being. Imagine being a student in a school where you know your teachers genuinely care about you as a person. Imagine how motivated you might be to learn. Imagine how strong you would feel about not letting these caring, trusted adults down. All students deserve our honest and natural attention, all of the time.

WEAC members are finalists for Presidential Teaching Awards

Two WEAC members are among state finalists for the 2018 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), considered the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government for mathematics and science teachers.

Alicia Korth, first-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in the New London School District; and Rebecca Saeman, mathematics and reading intervention teacher at Sauk Trail Elementary School in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District received the recognition.

WEAC members: Resources to elevate your professional practices

“WEAC is proud to advance the teaching profession and provide high-quality supports to help all Wisconsin educators achieve their full potential,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, an eighth grade social studies teacher. “Wisconsin educators teach and inspire their students every day, earning the respect they deserve for a job well done.”

“These teachers demonstrate their care and love of students and the teaching profession,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Their passion helps to inspire our future inventors, doctors, and software developers who will certainly impact our ever-changing world. I wish our finalists well in the next stage of the Presidential Teaching Awards process.”

Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST program recognizes teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of STEM education, the abbreviation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which includes computer science.

Other finalists from Wisconsin of the 2018 awards, which recognize educators who teach in grades kindergarten through six, are Michelle Butturini of Reedsville Elementary/Middle School and Michelle Howe of Lodi Middle School.

Sun Prairie’s Sandra Kowalczyk is national Middle Level Educator of the Year

Sandra Kowalczyk

Sandra Kowalczyk, a reading specialist at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie and a member of WEAC Region 6, will be awarded the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) 2018 Educator of the Year Award. The award, supported by the AMLE Foundation Fund, recognizes outstanding practitioners in middle level education — those who have made a significant impact on the lives of young adolescents through exemplary leadership, vision, and advocacy. The award will be presented in October 2018 at the 45th Annual Conference for Middle Level Education in Orlando, Florida.

“As a middle school teacher myself, I understand how important qualified and caring educators are to students at this stage of their lives,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “Our entire WEAC family – representing teachers and support staff across Wisconsin – congratulates Sandra on her well-deserved accomplishment.”

Kowalczyk has been a middle school literacy educator for 27 years, teaching intervention classes for high-needs students reading below grade level. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who has been a Wisconsin Middle School Teacher of the Year (2009), National Council of Teachers of English Outstanding Middle Level Educator (2015), and was a Global Teacher Prize Top 50 Finalist (2015) among other awards.

Kowalczyk co-designed integrated reading/language arts curricula integrating music, dance, and drama as part of a K-12 project selected by NASA as one of eight projects aboard the 1998 STDS Discovery Space Shuttle Mission, Astronaut John Glenn’s historic return to space. Her reading program was selected in 1999 as winner of the International Reading Association Exemplary Reading Program Award. She regularly presents at state, regional, national, and international education events. Kowalczyk was awarded a Global Diversity Grant by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison, she was a Top 50 Finalist for the Varkey Global Teacher Prize in 2015, and she wrote and implemented five competitive grants awarded by the Sun Prairie Education Foundation.

Kowalczyk’s inclusion of international experiences in her teaching excites and engages students while promoting global literacy. She was the recipient of U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays summer travel awards in Peru (2016), China (2014), Morocco (2007), and India (2003); a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar in Istanbul, Turkey, (2015) and Oaxaca, Mexico, (2010); the Hilton Teacher Trek Award in Malaysia and Singapore (2014); and U.S.-Eurasia Teaching Excellence Award in Uzbekistan (2005) where she initiated and implemented a Culture Bag Exchange among multiple middle schools in Wisconsin and Bukhara, Uzbekistan.

Rebecca Murray, a former colleague at Patrick Marsh Middle School, said, “Sandy immerses our students not only in literacy, but in social justice and cultural experiences as well. We are fortunate and privileged to have such a dedicated and creative educator and middle level advocate in our midst.”

According to Patrick Marsh Middle School Principal Corey Shefchik, “I can attest to her passion, leadership, vision, and advocacy for middle level education. Sandra clearly values this age group with whom she has worked for 27 years. She thrives on challenges and continually seeks to update her own and others’ knowledge.”

“I owe my accomplishments to both the inspiring teachers I have had, as well as the talented teachers I’ve had the opportunity to work with as peers. Our world is a better place because of passionate and dedicated teachers everywhere and those who acknowledge and reward them,” said Kowalczyk.

From the Association for Middle Level Education