Teachers of the Year

posted 05/28/2010
By JSwindell,

Caldwell School District leaders said goodbye to retirees, and honored teachers of the year at its annual year-end breakfast Friday morning.

Each of Caldwell’s 10 principals selected a teacher that went above and beyond what was asked of them. They mentored others in the building, coordinated professional development and helped children succeed. Academic success in the Caldwell School District is at an all-time high, according to national test results, and Caldwell High and Canyon Springs High each graduated a record number of students — 329 at CHS and 27 at CSHS. Also, teacher retention is at an all-time high. Just five years ago, more than 80 teachers left the district but this past school year only 14 new teachers were hired.

Here are Caldwell’s teachers of the year: Caldwell High (Shani Cummins); Canyon Springs (Nancy Herrbach); Syringa Middle (Joel Free); Jefferson Middle  (Tiffany Echanis); Lincoln Elementary (Sue Kildow);  Lewis and Clark Elementary (Lisa Fesenek); Van Buren Elementary (Helen Perry); Wilson Elementary(Steve Foley); Sacajawea Elementary (Alexis Contos); Washington (Katie Humphris).

The Caldwell Education Association will select a distric-twide teacher of the year from those selected at each school. The district’s teacher of the year will be announced in August. 

Superintendent Roger Quarles opened the morning celebration by addressing the staff. Also speaking was Caldwell Education Association president Joe Grover and Idaho Education Association president Sheri Wood. 

Quarles and school principals then honored retiring employees, who collectively devoted 288 years of service to children in Caldwell. Here is a list of those devoted employees: Caldwell High — Ron Fortner, Ann McMaster, Kenneth Smith, Conrad De La Paz, Linda Cooper; Syringa Middle — Kathy Freeburn; Jefferson Middle — Penny Urriola, Joan Rex, Margo White, Marsha Seable, JoAn Hull; Sacajawea — Robbianne Busse;  Van Buren — LaVaun Dennett; Canyon Springs — Patricia Papapietro; Washington — Marilyn Shaw; Wilson  — Amy Hayashida and Carrie Bell; Lewis and Clark — Frank Maxwell; Lincoln — Robert Teska; and Food Service — Maureen Stricklen.

Here are some of the comments made by principals at the year-end breakfast about their devoted and impressive teachers:

Caldwell High — Shani Cummins. She graduated from Boise State University in 1993 and has a full background — she has worked for the Idaho Task Force on the American with Disabilities Act, worked with children with severe behavior disorders, lived in Panama as a Peace Corps volunteer and was a para-professional in an Idaho Falls Middle school.

She returned from Panama with a special skill — she is fluent in Spanish.  This sparked a passion for teaching non-native speakers English and, after graduating from ISU in 2006 with a secondary education degree, she was hired at CHS to teach English Language Learning students.   

"Shani has all of the qualities that are present in an outstanding teacher,'' said principal Mike Farris. "Shani has become one of those people that truly impact the lives of our students.''  

Canyon Springs High — Nancy Herrbach.  She is presently providing instruction in the professional tech program at CSHS and her area of focus has been business applications combined with computer science/graphics.  Nancy also is involved in the Carl Perkins Grant Program and works with Vice-Principal Anita Wilson and Director of Secondary Education Randy Schrader to help the CSD maintain the program. 

 In respect to students, Nancy has consistently created a learning environment for kids to develop their creativity and curiosity as they explore new concepts. Committed to helping students broaden their understanding of skills and knowledge of computer applications in respect to the business world, she is a dynamic instructor who leads by modeling the behavior she desires of her students.

 This is the second time in the past five years she has been named the CSHS Teacher of the Year.  Nancy has been with the Caldwell School District since 2002.

Jefferson Middle — Tiffany Echanis. She is full of energy and she uses some of that energy to make Jefferson a great place for all students.  She is a natural leader and she teaches students in the leadership class skills that they will need to make good choices and set a tone for the school.  She plans spirit days and pep assemblies with students and other staff and helps students to set goals, select activities, and determine timelines.  In additional to those extras, she leads the Title I teachers in determining effective ways to motivate students, communicate with parents, and make sure that all paperwork is complete.  This teacher finds and takes all opportunities to learn and grow professionally and then willingly shares what she learns with other staff.

Syringa Middle — Joel Free is an art teacher who helped improve math scores at Syringa because he switched to a metric system. He would do anything to help the students at his school. He is amusing, hardworking devoted and creative.

Lewis and Clark Elementary — Lisa Fesenbek. Lewis and Clark has seen tremendous growth in IRI and IAST scores, increased community involvement, and decreased discipline issues.  These things have happened because we are a team that is dedicated to our kids.  We have a staff that comes to work every focused on student achievement.  I am so proud to work with all the teachers and staff at Lewis and Clark. 

Lisa Fesenbek  embodies the spirit of the year we have had at Lewis and Clark.  This teacher is the ultimate in partnering with students, parents, and support staff.  She is dedicated to self-reflection and continuous improvement in her own practice.  She is willing to try any behavioral or academic intervention to help students grow.  She is faithful in adjusting her instruction to meet the needs of students based on data.  The things I have mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg of tangible and intangible qualities that this teacher demonstrates every day. 

 Lincoln Elementary — Music teacher Sue Kildow. "She is a phenomenal teacher,'' said Lincoln principal Trish Stone. "She teaches all students, grades K-5, with enthusiasm and skill. The children are 100 percent engaged in her classroom."
Mrs. Kildow's passion for performance has brought about the Lincoln School Talent Show, where children perform with enthusiasm and pride in front of their peers. Two of Lincoln School's students were able to perform with the All-State Children's choir because of Mrs. Kildow's desire to provide additional opportunities for Caldwell children.

Van Buren Elementary —  Helen Perry. She loves being with students, is a life-long learner and is committed to the profession. She has helped Van adapt curriculum materials and teaching techniques to meet the needs of students with disabilities, coordinating the work of teachers, teacher assistants, and classroom teachers, communicating with all of the others involved in our students’ well-being, including parents, social workers, school psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, and administrators. But what really makes her stand out is her enduring faith in the kids and in our ability to make a difference in their lives.

Wilson Elementary —  Steve Foley. He is a teacher-leader who colleagues look to for advice and recommendations for best practice. He is a dedicated professional who works hard for the students of Wilson every day.

Sacajawea Elementary — Instructional coach Alexis Contos has helped the school make AYP two years in a row.  She is a dynamic force in change and sustainability at Sacajawea. She coordinates professional development is diligent and well-organized. Principal Greg Alexander counts on Alexis daily to help run the well-oiled machine — the teaching corp at Sacajawea.

 Washington Elementary — Katie Humphris. This teacher is exceptional, always going out of her way to do whatever is best for kids. Even if this means staying after school on a Friday night to tutor a student until 5:30 p.m. because this was the only time that would work for parents. She is often found at school at all hours—once even after 2:00 a.m. She always puts others first, students and staff. Her time is never her time—it’s always for others. She asks questions and truly does all she can to ensure that our students understand concepts. The exceptional part is that she retired from an out-of-state school district and moved here, continuing her dedication to students. Please join me in thanking for her service to our students! Congratulations on being Washington’s Teacher of the Year.



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