2019 Lakota Educators of Excellence Winners Announced

May 22, 2019

The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty, in partnership with Lakota Local Schools, are proud to announce the three recipients of the 2019 Lakota Educator of Excellence Awards. The 2019 honorees include:

  • Elementary (PreK-6) Winner: Audrey Young (Counselor – Freedom Elementary School)
  • Secondary (7-12) Winner: Jennifer Dietsch (Choir teacher – Ridge Junior School)

  • Administrator Winner: Andrea Blevins (Principal – Endeavor Elementary)

The Lakota Educator of Excellence Award was established in 2007 to recognize educators in the Lakota School District who demonstrate consistency and high commitment to students. These individuals motivate, share ideas, inspire, support, create and go beyond to make a difference in the community. The grade level awards include a $1,000 grant for the implementation of a special project or program at the recipient’s school, made possible this year through sponsorship from Phelan Insurance.

"The Foundation is proud to partner with Lakota Local Schools, and Phelan Insurance, on the Educator of Excellence Awards," said Erin Clemons, Foundation President & CEO. "As a community foundation, we believe that a strong school system means a strong future for our community. This award is one way we can support outstanding educators who work diligently every day to make the future a little bit brighter."

A selection committee consisting of Community Foundation and Lakota staff reviewed the nomination letters and voted on the final recipients. Two winners are selected to represent grades PreK-6 and 7-12. The committee can also opt to recognize a deserving administrator or support staff member, without the attached monetary award.

“The Educator of Excellence award reminds us just how high our teachers, support staff and administrators set the bar for one another,” said Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller. “The caliber of professionalism and dedication described in all 30-plus nominations should make Mrs. Young, Mrs. Dietsch and Mrs. Blevins especially proud of their recognition. It was an exciting few days sharing the news with them.”

Each recipient was honored within their school communities with a special surprise recognition. Click here to watch a video that captures each winner's reaction.

In just one year’s time, after spending seven years at Cherokee Elementary, Young has made an equally positive impression on the Freedom community. Referred to as “the heart of the school,” Young was commended for her calm presence and solution-focused counseling in helping children get what they need socially and emotionally. Two third-graders described her as Freedom’s “gift” and “spirit.” Young has applied her expertise in trauma research to help train and lead her peers district-wide and will represent Lakota at the state counselor conference next year.

Dietsch’s dedication beyond the classroom over her 19-year history at Lakota was evident through the mix of nominations from students, parents, colleagues and alumni. Dietsch’s “amazing energy” and “vast professional knowledge” inspires her music colleagues across Lakota as much as it does her own students. Her impact even crosses district lines, as many of her biggest fans hail from Lakota East’s theater program, where she has volunteered as the music director for several years. Dietsch also serves as Ridge’s drama club advisor, the conductor for a youth strings organization and a member of the West Chester Symphony.

Parents nominating Blevins described the transformation at Endeavor since her arrival two years ago as “electric.” “The school came alive again,” one parent wrote. Blevins was commended for not only rejuvenating her staff, but also unifying the entire Endeavor community and putting student relationships as the center of everything she does. “She walks the line perfectly of being firm and fun,” wrote one parent.

In addition to the 2019 Educator of Excellence recipients, the following Lakota staff members were nominated for the award:

Elementary Finalists (PreK-6)
Molly Adams (Endeavor)
Jim Bodden (Endeavor & Cherokee)
Deana Bowling (Endeavor)
Cindy Brausch-Knemeyer (VanGorden)
Lori Chalk (Endeavor)
Rachael Cherko (Wyandot)
Laura Elam (Wyandot)
Sheila Grammer (Wyandot)
Tracie Kleman (Endeavor)
Alicia McGlothin (Endeavor)
Maria Pohlman (Cherokee)
Jeff Redwine (Cherokee)
Kim Reining (Wyandot)
Melissa Riehle (Wyandot)
Rebecca Striet (Shawnee)
Lori Vanover (Cherokee & Endeavor)
Ann Westmeyer (Cherokee)
Tracy Wullenweber (Liberty ECS)

Secondary Finalists (7 – 12)
Clint Adkins (East)
Judy Buckenmyer (East)
Jesse Dornan (East)
Kevin Engel (East High School & Freshman)
Tina Green (West)
Kristen Hoch (East)
Ken Kinch (East / Butler Tech)
Dorothea Meyer (East Freshman)
Kimheart Moeung (West Freshman / Butler Tech)
Scott Slomsky (Plains)

Administrator Finalists
John Mattingly – Adena (Principal)