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Parker Love of Teaching Award Winners

2017:  Nate Thompson Receives The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s 7th Annual Parker Love of Teaching Award

Surrounded by enthusiastic students, fellow faculty, parents and family members, Nate Thompson received The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s seventh annual Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award Tuesday, May 30. Thompson, a 15-year veteran of Oakwood City Schools, is a music teacher at E. D. Smith Elementary School.

The Parker Award honors a teacher who has taught in the District for at least five years and who uniquely inspires the full potential of each student with whom he or she works. Beverly Parker, a former Harman teacher, established The Parker Award in 2011 in loving memory of her husband, Bob.

“We feel such a close bond with the Oakwood education system. We have always believed that the teachers in the Oakwood Schools are exceptional and give much of themselves for the betterment of the children in our community,” said Bev. “Our family cannot think of a better way to give back to the schools than to honor the special teachers that go above and beyond what is expected of them. This award is one way that we can show our appreciation and gratitude for all they do for our children.”

In nominating Mr. Thompson for the award, one parent wrote, “In Mr. Thompson’s classroom, there are no barriers to learning. Every child is capable and can excel, all they need is to show a desire and he will give them the tools they need to make it happen.”

A fellow staff member added, “I have seen Nate empower students. If a student has an idea, he will work with them to bring it to fruition.” Another nominator reflected, “Mr. Thompson has this ability to encourage and support individual student interests, while also including the other students in the project, making them all feel special, included, creative, and that they have learned.”

The Oakwood Schools Foundation congratulates Mr. Thompson on being the seventh recipient of The Parker Love of Teaching Award and thanks all the parents, students, teachers and community members who nominated teachers and wrote letters of support. The Foundation thanks Bev Parker for her generosity and vision in establishing this important award.

Oakwood Schools Foundation, a component of The Dayton Foundation, provides students with diverse and distinctive opportunities that go above and beyond the reach of the district’s normal operating budget. Pursuing its mission, “Enhancing Excellence in Education,” OSF provides significant annual support for quality initiatives, including teacher and administrative grants, scholarships, and special wish list items.

For more information about The Foundation, please contact Dante Connell, Director, at 297-5332 or visit our website at www.oakwoodschoolsfoundation.org

2016:  John Edwards Receives The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s Sixth Annual Parker Love of Teaching Award

Surrounded by enthusiastic students, fellow faculty, parents and former students, John Edwards received The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s sixth annual Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award on Tuesday, May 24. Edwards, a 17-year veteran of Oakwood City Schools, is a fourth-grade teacher at Harman Elementary School.

In nominating Mr. Edwards for the award, one parent wrote, “Mr. Edwards has a wonderful, unique way to handle not only the average student, and gifted student, but also students who have challenges that they face. It is done with great respect, patience, understanding, and guidance.” “He tailors his approach to each child and intuitively knows what they need to develop at such a critical juncture,” remarked another parent who nominated Edwards. Another nominator reflected, “Mr. Edwards is also a great communicator with parents and really shows that he takes an interest in each child’s education, growth and development, partnering with you to help make sure the child is receiving the support they need outside of school.”

The Oakwood Schools Foundation congratulates Mr. Edwards on being the sixth recipient of The Parker Love of Teaching Award and thanks all the parents, students, teachers and community members who nominated teachers and wrote letters of support. The Foundation thanks Bev Parker for her generosity and vision in establishing this important award.

2015:  Kuntz Receives Oakwood Schools Foundation Parker Love of Teaching Award

With the familiar background of music and the voices of excited children, The Oakwood Schools Foundation presented Susan Kuntz, Harman Elementary School art teacher with the Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award at the conclusion of the sixth grade recognition ceremony. Ms. Kuntz has been an art teacher in the School District for more than 25 years.

Ms. Kuntz received letters of nomination from parents of her current students as well as staff members at Harman. Letters of support flowed in from other community members and former students as well. One nominator reflected, “Ms. Kuntz is a personal mentor to every student. She teaches, investigates their personality, connects with them and aids them in finding their own sense of creativity.” A fellow teacher added, “Her heart, her soul, and her mind are focused on teaching the whole child. She makes the effort to know her students and build relationships that contribute to a culture at Harman in which students feel they belong. Her students know that she believes they are important.”

“I don’t think I have walked into a house of a Harman family without seeing something produced in Susan’s classroom being proudly displayed,” remarked one parent. Some current students used these phrases when describing art with Ms. Kuntz:

-- “She shows us the project and at first I think it will be hard. But she demonstrates and lets you ask questions and I know I can do it!”

-- “Ms. Kuntz is thoughtful when she critiques my art.”

-- “I like the tools and the equipment. She taught me how to use an iron!”

-- “Art is my favorite special class.”

The Oakwood Schools Foundation congratulates Ms. Kuntz on being the fifth recipient of The Parker Love of Teaching Award and thanks all the parents, students, teachers and community members who nominated teachers and wrote letters of support. The Foundation thanks Bev Parker for her generosity and vision in establishing this important award.

2014:  Ron Nelson Receives The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s Fourth Annual Parker Love of Teaching Award

Surrounded by enthusiastic high school band students, Ron Nelson received The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s fourth annual Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award at the Oakwood High School band concert on Wednesday, May 21. Ron Nelson, a 9-year veteran of Oakwood City Schools, heads up the District’s band program. In addition to the high school band, he is responsible for the junior high school and both elementary school band programs. Not only has the high school band doubled in size during his tenure, but Mr. Nelson has built a legacy by adding curricular and extra-curricular options, including: wind ensemble, concert band, jazz band, and pep band.

In addition to teaching during the school day, Mr. Nelson conducts the jazz bands for junior and senior high before school, oversees pep band for basketball games and select volleyball games, and conducts the high school spring musical pit orchestra. Letters of support flowed in from many grateful parents. One nominator reflected, “Ron has the uncanny ability to engage shy students who otherwise would not step up to join the band. He brings out the best in his band members and maximizes his students’ learning potential.”

Another shared with appreciation, “Ron has developed a family-like system that the students understand, respect and appreciate. Seniors and section leaders are responsible and accountable to mentor and teach underclassmen how to behave as a band member. Freshmen know that they are led by juniors and seniors, and they look forward to the day when they will lead.”

“Ron Nelson embodies all that the Parker Award stands for,” said Kathy Schoenlein, Oakwood Band Parents Association, Ways and Means Chair. “As one of Mr. Nelson’s current students told the selection committee, ‘Mr. Nelson puts the students first, before himself. Always.” Another family added: “The Mr. Nelson’s of this world are too few and far between - - - we are so grateful to have him here in Oakwood.”

2013:  Tony Rainsberger Receives The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s Third Annual Parker Love of Teaching Award

Surrounded by enthusiastic students, fellow faculty and recent alumni, Tony Rainsberger received The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s third annual Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award on Tuesday, May 21. Rainsberger, a 13-year veteran of Oakwood City Schools, heads up the District’s award-winning engineering curriculum which now offers three different high school courses to 115 students and has gained local, state and national recognition.

Since 2010, Oakwood High School has added one new engineering course every academic year. Current offerings include Intro to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, and Biotechnical Engineering; new for the 2013-2014 academic year will be Civil and Architectural Engineering. Mr. Rainsberger spends his summers learning the material, developing the curriculum and sourcing equipment. The rapid growth of Oakwood’s engineering program was made possible by a $100,000 grant to The Oakwood Schools Foundation from The Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation in memory of Sue Worth in 2010.

Jeanne Keffer, Bill Sneeder and Chris Sneeder (OHS ’12) were among those who nominated or wrote letters of support for Mr. Rainsberger. They wrote that “…the best teachers are those who enliven the classroom and breathe life into the subject material. They challenge you to think in new ways and to participate enthusiastically in the learning collaboration. In fact, it is their enthusiasm that first grabs you. They expect you to make an effort, to make mistakes, and most of all to make more of yourself through your time together. Oakwood High School is fortunate to have such an inspiring teacher in Mr. Tony Rainsberger. He is dedicated to his students and he empowers them to succeed.”

In addition to teaching, Mr. Rainsberger is an advisor to the OHS Energy Team, The Rocket Team, and the Femineers. Ellie Hong, an Oakwood High School senior who plans to study engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, IN, credits Mr. Rainsberger for inspiring her to pursue this career path. "Mr. Rainsberger makes all the engineering courses an amazing experience. He helps develop skills that will be used both later in school and in the workplace. We, the students, are extremely privileged to have him as a teacher!" says Ellie.

“Tony Rainsberger embodies all that the Parker Award stands for,” said Julie Halpern, Director of The Oakwood Schools Foundation. “As one of Mr. Rainsberger’s former student told us, ‘not only does he display great knowledge in the subjects that he teaches, but he always aims to achieve and learn more. His life lessons are some of the best and really help his students understand the real world.’”

2012:  Kathy Allan Receives The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s Second Annual Parker Love of Teaching Award

It took more than just a drum roll to introduce the winner of The Oakwood Schools Foundation’s second annual Parker Love of Teaching Award on Thursday, May 31. Rather, an entire drum line announced the coveted award, presented this year to Mrs. Kathy Allan, a beloved social studies teacher at Oakwood Junior High School who will retire this spring after 11 years’ service to the District.

Mrs. Allan’s nomination received letters of support from parents, faculty and former students. A former student and 2010 OHS graduate said that walking away from Mrs. Allan’s classroom after the very first day of seventh-grade social studies, he came to three conclusions: “1) I was going to love social studies; 2) I had never seen someone so passionate about anything in my life; and 3) I wanted to travel to every country in the world.” This same student, who is now pursuing a career in the foreign service, went on to say that “Mrs. Allan taught me that standing idly by and wishing things would change isn’t good enough; we must create the change. Mrs. Allan profoundly influenced me to take the path I have.”

One parent wrote, “Through her passion for teaching, continual research, and personal travels to nations around the world, Kathy truly strives to reach her students through a multitude of creative avenues. At a time when most adults do not understand today’s youth, Kathy embraces their uniqueness, challenges their thinking, stretches their abilities, and helps them to ‘step outside the dome’.”

A colleague said that “her enthusiasm draws the students in, but her skillful instruction encourages their learning. No moment is wasted in Mrs. Allan’s classroom. Any observer of Mrs. Allan would attest that not only does she believe in her students, but, remarkably, the students know it.”

“Kathy Allan embodies all that the Parker Award stands for,” said Julie Halpern, Director of The Oakwood Schools Foundation. “Her lessons extend far beyond the classroom, and students tell us her influence is felt not only in their academic endeavors, but in their everyday lives as well.”

2011:  Janet Block Receives Education Foundation’s First Parker Love of Teaching Award

Amidst the sound of a resounding drum roll and the voices of excited children, The Oakwood Schools Foundation presented Mrs. Janet Block, Lange Kindergarten teacher with the first ever Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award during Lange’s year end closing ceremony. Mrs. Block has been a Kindergarten teacher in the School District for 15 years and at Lange School since it opened in 2000.

Mrs. Block received letters of nomination from parents of her former students as well as staff members at Lange. Letters of support flowed in from other parents, administrators and former students. One nominator reflected, “Mrs. Block has mastered creating a daily adventure for kindergarteners from the moment they enter her exciting classroom. The loving and supportive environment she establishes each year is extraordinary.” Another shared with appreciation, “Her dedication and patience with our youngest learners is unmatched. Mrs. Block’s teaching style is the epitome of differentiated instruction. Each year she takes an unknown “commodity” and in her skilled and magical way meets all of their needs and makes them more than ready for first grade. More importantly, she has also instilled formative, positive life skills.”

“Three of my children had Mrs. Block,” reminisced one parent, “and I was able to volunteer in the classroom many mornings. What I saw was amazing. What I find so unique and inspiring is that Mrs. Block seems to LOVE every student. She has high expectations for her students and gets them to work hard, pay attention and behave by encouraging them and loving them.”

“Mrs. Block embraces new experiences with a wonderful sense of curiosity and fun. Her endeavors exemplify her commitment to always improve upon herself and make a difference in the lives of others,” observed a District Administrator. A former student

included these words of appreciation in his letter of support, “Mrs. Block was the best teacher ever. She made Kindergarten a very fun and enjoyable year. On my “Favorite Teacher List,” Mrs. Block has had the top position for the past six years. She made me learn faster than I ever have before.”

The Foundation congratulates Mrs. Block on being the first recipient of The Parker Love of Teaching Award and thanks all the parents, students, teachers and administrators who nominated teachers and wrote letters of support. The enthusiastic response we received in response to The Parker Love of Teaching Award is a testament to the excellent teachers we are privileged to have in the Oakwood School District. Special thanks to Bev Parker for her generosity, vision and establishing this important award.