(Shenandoah) -- Some special individuals in the Shenandoah School District were honored at a big event Wednesday night.

For the second year in a row, the Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation marked American Education Week with a special gathering at the Elks Lodge. During the event, the Shenandoah Education Association announced Teresa Hughes as its Teacher of the Year recipient. A former 1st grade instructor, Hughes currently serves as instructional coach and master teacher at Shenandoah Elementary School under the district's Teacher Leadership and Compensation program initiated a few years ago. Kindergarten Instructor Cindy Novinger outlined Hughes' work in reading her nomination letter.

"As a part of the master teacher team, she develops and implements the professional development plan for the district," said Novinger. "She provides instructional guidance, and always makes herself available to model research-based instructional practices, help staff in the process of analyzing student data, asks question that engage self reflection, and she exhibits the true sense of guidance through her empathy for others."

Saying the TLC program was a big change for the district, Hughes thanked the elementary staff for letting her into their classrooms, and allowing her to support them.

"I appreciate all that you do with your collaboration and reflection," said Hughes, "because we all know that the best learning that we have is from each other. And, we learn so much from our colleagues, and being able to talk about what we're doing, and reflect on that. So, I want all of my teachers, and the all the teachers in Shenandoah to know how much we appreciate what you do for the kids here in Shenandoah, and for my own family."

Also honored: Shenandoah Firefighter George Shaw and Shenandoah EMS Director Ty Davison with the Friend of Education Award. Among other things, 1st Grade Instructor Tammie Stettler cited the duo for their work in creating the Shenandoah Fire Cadet program.

"George Shaw and Ty Davison started the Shenandoah Fire Cadet program for high school students in July, 2008," said Stettler. "It began with one student--Ian Hilker--and by the fall, two more cadets were added. To date, 45-plus students have joined the cadet program, and 40-plus of those have successfully completed it."

Shaw says the opportunity to work with fire cadets has been a two-way street.

"Having the chance to work with many, many quality, good kids has made it an easy thing to do," said Shaw. "It's not a chore or challenge to go to training--in fact, they're working right now, and we're late getting there. But, the chance to work with them makes it very rewarding to work with me, and I'm sure Ty. It's very much a team effort between Ty and myself."

Davison says it's been gratifying to see former cadets return to serve the community.

"Watching them grow from nothing to a very good kid, and then watching them come back to the community," said Davison. "I get the gains from it out at the hospital being EMS director, and also the community gets it back through the fire department. We see them come back through the training, and help train the kids that take their place. The rewards are there, and we get to see what we've grown."

In addition, Toni Graham was named Support Staff Member of the Year by the Shenandoah Support Staff Association Plus. In her acceptance speech, Graham retraced her 23-year tenure with the district.

"I went from high school secretary to middle school secretary," said Graham. "Then, when we made the move from the old junior high school building--the old high school--I went to the K-8 building. Then, I was transferred to the admin office. My final step was preschool."

Graham recently retired as a pre-K associate. She's also in her second term on the Shenandoah City Council.

In addition, the education foundation announced this year's recipients of three $500 minigrants. Minigrant winners were Preschool Instructor Rae Metzger for the "Connections Matter" program, Middle School Special Education Instructor Holly Martin for sensory seating at the school's resource room, and 2nd Grade Instructor Maria Blake for the "Field Trip Zoom" program, allowing students to video conference with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

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