2021 Lakota Educators of Excellence

November 15, 2021

Surprise Awards video!

The Northern Cincinnati Foundation, in partnership with Lakota Local Schools, are proud to announce the recipients of the 2021 Lakota Educator of Excellence Awards. The 2021 honorees include: 

  • Elementary (PreK-6) Winner: Jenny Hutzelman
    Second Grade Teacher – Heritage Early Childhood School
  • Secondary (7-12) Winner: Roxanne Begley, Stacey Cooke & Emily Edwards
    Teaching Team, LINCC Lab – LakotaAdministrator Winner: Scott Laman
  • Associate Principal – Lakota West Freshman School

Each recipient was honored with a special surprise celebration this week among their peers and including their family. 

“It is always priceless to witness the shock of our winners when we unexpectedly show up in their classroom or at a staff meeting,” said Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller. “These individuals should be anything but shocked, considering the positive impact they’ve had on countless students and families over the course of their careers. But it’s humbling to see their reactions and we are so grateful for the opportunity to continue recognizing excellent educators with the support of the Northern Cincinnati Foundation.”

Jenny Hutzelman, who has spent 23 years of her teaching career at Lakota schools, has most recently left her mark with a special garden project at Heritage ECS. Beginning last year, she empowered her students to beautify the school’s garden, a challenge they embraced and was eventually adopted by the entire school. It is now being transformed into an outdoor learning space and is at the center of numerous hands-on learning activities, like making salsa from the produce. Hutzelman’s nomination came from a parent, who also shares the title of educator at another district. 

“Mrs. Hutzelman is an educator who teaches from the heart,” wrote Amanda Budde. “She is creative and based on the projects and differentiation I have noticed, she puts 100 percent effort into her students and goes above and beyond. She is the type of educator we all strive to be.”

The teaching trio earning the 7-12 award - language arts teacher Roxanne Begley, social studies teacher Stacey Cooke & art teacher Emily Edwards - oversee Lakota East Freshman School’s LINCC Lab, short for “Learning Ignited by Non-Traditional Course Collaboration.” The team built the program in 2019, giving their shared students the same schedule across all three subject areas. Known as co-teaching among educators, it’s a model that lends itself to student choice and cross-curricular projects that tackle all the same standards, but oftentimes add in skills of real world learning like collaboration, communication and creativity.
“This team works collaboratively and tie in a lot of content and focus on personalizing instruction, building relationships and creating a learning environment that is inclusive,” wrote East Freshman Associate Principal Nicole Isaacs. “They have such strong relationships with kids and their kids truly know they care about them.” 
Lakota West Freshman Associate Principal Scott Laman is new to his position this year, but was nominated by a student who knew him as both a science teacher and assistant principal at Lakota. 
“His work ethic and drive for each of us shines through each and every day,” wrote Lakota West sophomore Molly Bell. “He has impacted my life and I know many others’ lives too. He puts his students before himself and always has our backs. He gives great advice and always cheers us on and always is up for a challenge.”

“Scott’s success is tied to the skill level of all of you and your willingness to accept him into his new role this year,”Lakota West Principal Ben Brown shared with the West Freshman team. This is a way to recognize Scott, but it’s also an opportunity to recognize West Freshman and the great work you all do each and every day.” 

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 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 Foundation President & CEO Erin Clemons. “This year more than ever, when our schools have been facing some tough challenges, it is important to recognize the outstanding educators who work diligently every day to make the future a little bit brighter for their students.” 

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, without the attached monetary award.

In addition to the 2021 Educator of Excellence recipients, the following Lakota staff members were nominated for the award:

Elementary Finalists (PreK-6)
Natalie Bachman (Wyandot ECS) 
Jim Bodden (Endeavor & Independence) 
Teresa Hatfield (Endeavor) 
Kelly Hoover McGuire (Wyandot ECS) 
Kara Jenkins (Independence) 
Melissa Riehle (Wyandot ECS) 
Sarah Smith (Wyandot ECS) 
Lori Vanover (Endeavor) 
Secondary Finalists (7 – 12)
Allison Billups (Lakota West)
Patricia Burley (Plains Junior) 
Bethany Dunn (Lakota West)
Kim Eldridge (Lakota West) 
Julie Fuqua (Hopewell Junior) 
Tina Green (Lakota West)
Jessica Hodges (Lakota West)
Mary Jones (Lakota East Freshman)
Kimberly Middendorf (Freedom & Ridge Junior) 
Laura McGannon (Lakota West) 
Aaron Nunley (Plains Junior) 
Doug Panfalone (Ridge Junior) 
Administrator Finalists
Linda Burwinkel (Liberty Junior)