Celebrate Education Supports Oshkosh Educators 

Oshkosh Area School District recognizes award and grant recipients

The Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) is pleased to celebrate the grant and award recipients recognized during the 2023 Celebrate Education event, hosted by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation on March 13, 2023. Recognition and grant funding included the Elementary Teacher Excellence Awards, Celebrate Education Grants, OASD Education Foundation Grants, Edward and Belle Rudoy Endowment Fund Awards, Edward and Belle Rudoy Technology Grant, and the Spirit of Education Award. The OASD Education Foundation contributed over $8,000 for OASD awards this year. 

PHOTO GALLERY: OASD 2023 Celebrate Education Award Recipients 

UW-Oshkosh Elementary Teacher Excellence Award Recipients

Samantha Blazel - Kindergarten Teacher at Oaklawn Elementary
Samantha has established a model classroom for welcoming and supporting all students in a positive, caring and energized environment. She has frequently demonstrated her effectiveness in establishing a classroom environment that provides connection, routines and structure for students with exceptional needs; including students with limited English and students with intellectual disabilities. 

Tara Perry - Grade 3 Teacher at Oakwood Elementary
Tara’s never-ending focus on children is exceptional. The relationships she builds in her classroom are truly from the heart. She teaches her students how to truly care about each other and that equity is about each person getting what they need to be successful. Tara is not only an accomplished teacher but is a leader in the district. 

Brooke Lepper- Grade 3 Teacher at Carl Traeger Elementary
Brooke believes it is important that kids see themselves as learners and feel like agents of their own learning. She creates opportunities across the curriculum for students to develop agency and engage in self-directed learning. Brooke has a passion for social justice and has been a leader in the building, supporting staff in helping students see themselves represented in the curriculum. Brooke has also served as an ArtsCore cooperating teacher. 

Celebrate Education Grants
(*OASD Education Foundation Grant Winners)

William Brydon - Oshkosh West High School
Books to Enhance Global Empathy and Knowledge: William will purchase books to supply students in the Academy for Global Studies with a more diverse array of world literature. This will enhance their understanding of other people, foster more empathy, and help them become more proficient readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers.

* Danae Deppiesse - Jacob Shapiro STEM Academy
Vertical Wipebooks to Increase Student Thinking in Mathematics Classrooms: Danae will purchase Wipebook flipcharts and easels to be shared in 6 classrooms at Shapiro STEM Academy. These will increase student engagement in Thinking Mathematics classrooms grades 3-5.

Robin Goedderz - Oaklawn Elementary School
Fantastic Fruit Trees for our Sunlit Cafeteria: Oaklawn has a sunny school cafeteria with very tall ceilings filled with a huge wall of windows and southern exposure. Robin’s project will transform this space into a more inspiring educational area filled with varieties of fruit trees. Students of all ages will be able to care for, read next to, and learn by the trees. 

* Abby Goetz - Webster Stanley Elementary School
Creativity & Opportunity: A MakerSpace Project: Abby’s project will create a space for creative innovation to empower students to envision themselves as creators, problem-solvers, and inventors. Students will learn to think through problems and preserve while communicating effectively with partners and small groups.  

Justin Hable - Oshkosh West High School
West is B.E.S.T. (Bringing Exceptional Students Together): Justin’s project is to help junior and senior students develop leadership skills, through a Leadership Training Program workshop, and to use those skills to mentor other students on ways to be successful in high school. The mentors provide guidance on academics, organization, becoming involved, preparing for assessments, and serve as a positive peer that the freshmen can look up to.

Kaelee Heideman - Carl Traeger Elementary School
Nurturing Master Gardeners: Many of Kaelee’s students have the desire to be nurturing and would love the opportunity to care for something at school. Instead of class pets, Kaelee will purchase plants for each classroom. Students are assigned weekly classroom jobs and "Master Gardener" will be a new addition. The Master Gardener will be in charge of watering the class plant and making sure it is in ideal growing condition. Students will receive information on how to best care for the particular type of plant in their classroom so that it can thrive during the school year. 

Angie Kese - Jefferson Elementary School
Books, Books, Books, Check Me Out: Angie plans to refresh the library at Jefferson Elementary, organizing it in a way that is meaningful to her students. Angie will purchase clear storage bins and cardboard bins to help reorganize books, which will allow students to find books easier, and ultimately continue to foster their love of reading.

Keith Koslowski - Oshkosh North High School
Diverse Literary Options In The Classroom: To give his students more diverse options of in-class books to read, Keith will purchase more contemporary books that embrace learning about new things while continuing to foster their love of reading.

* Katie Lairson - Read Elementary School
ESOL Foundations – Newcomer Class: Katie’s project will create a play-based learning environment that meets the academic and social emotional needs of students with refugee background who are learning English as a second language. The goal is to provide newcomers instruction for extended periods of time in a classroom with their newcomer peers.

Leigh Marmes - OASD K-12 eAcademy
Weather and Climate Pocket Lab: To facilitate project-based learning opportunities, Leigh will purchase data collection tools for students to observe and analyze real-time information. Through these tools, students will be able to monitor weather and climate data over a long period of time and be able to collaboratively create hypotheses and conclusions.  

LeeAnn Morrill - Oshkosh West High School
Using Partnerships to Empower Academics, Electives and Extracurriculars with the LMC: LeeAnn’s project offers student groups, clubs, and classes, additional opportunities to pursue their passions by partnering with the LMC and creating a month-long project. These projects allow students to develop creative activities that foster critical thinking. Giving students voice and choice, groups work with their advisors and media staff to develop events and programs that promote their group's purpose or goals, while appealing to their personal interests.

Jennifer Olivares - Oshkosh West High School
Children’s Literature to Teach Challenge and Change in the Spanish-Speaking World: Jennifer will purchase children's books in Spanish that touch on a variety of social issues, past or present, in the Spanish-speaking world. Through these children's books, her Spanish 4 students will learn about challenges and changes individuals face in various countries around the world. She hopes this will also inspire her students to write and create their own children's books, in which their main characters address and overcome a challenge or change of their own.

* Donna Overbo - Oshkosh Area School Distrct Elementary Schools
Calm Your Way Through the Day! YOU GOT THIS!: Donna and other behavioral interventionists in the district will provide direct instruction in executive functioning skills with materials used from this grant. Shared throughout five elementary schools, materials will include games, calming tools, and sensory items to teach children how to self-regulate, cooperate with peers, manage time, and solve problems in the classroom.

Alyssa Rumlow - Jefferson Elementary School
Decodable Texts for Aspiring Readers: Students are in need of decodable texts that provide ample opportunities to practice foundational phonics skills. Alyssa will purchase a variety of high interest decodable texts for a lending library that will be accessible for all students at Jefferson Elementary. 

Julie Runde - Carl Traeger Elementary School
Emergent Writing Toolkit: Sometimes the tools matter! Julie’s project will provide K-2 classrooms with engaging tools, like magnetic whiteboards and boogie boards, to keep students engaged in interactive writing and other learning throughout the day.

Heather Schilling - Oshkosh West High School
Nursing Assistant Scrubs (Nursing Assistant Training – FVTC): Students who are enrolled in the Nursing Assistant course at Oshkosh West are required to purchase nursing scrubs to be worn during their lab and clinical experience. The uniform includes a scrub top and bottom in very specific colors and can range in price up to $100. Heather will purchase gift certificates from The Uniform Shop for students who have financial difficulties purchasing the required uniform.

* Michelle Smithson - Vel Phillips Middle School
Vel’s Caring Closet: This fall, Webster and Merrill Middle Schools will merge into one beautiful new building, Vel Phillips Middle School. Merging these two schools will require educators to be organized and prepared. Michelle will use these grant dollars to help organize and stock their caring closet, which helps supply basic needs to students and families.

Kathleen Stephany - South Park Middle School
South Park Engaging Students: To help with attendance and student engagement, South Park Middle school will be implementing an activity time on Friday afternoons for the 2023-24 school year. Kathleen will purchase materials for teachers to run various “interest sessions'' in their classrooms.  

* Liz VanHeuklon - Carl Traeger Elementary School
Light Tables in Kindergarten! Bringing Creativity through Building, Science, Math, and Sensory Play: Liz will purchase light tables for the kindergarten classrooms at Carl Traeger Elementary, as well as sensory supplies to accompany them. These tables will provide students with many additional opportunities for creative play throughout the day. They will also be beneficial to students who need help calming themselves when they are feeling dysregulated. 

* Courtney Willert - Roosevelt Elementary School
Building Math Thinking Classrooms: Courtney will purchase vertical whiteboards called Wipebook Flipcharts to be shared between two fifth grade classrooms. These will support building mathematical thinking through collaborative randomized group work in support of the district adopted K-5 math curriculum Bridges. 

Career and Technical Education Integrated Projects (CTE)

In the fall of 2022, the OASD Education Foundation created a new grant program titled the Career and Technical Education Integrated Projects (CTE). Funding for this initiative is made possible by Helen A. Beach Fund Endowment, a fund within the OASD Education Foundation. The purpose of the grant program is to create opportunities for grade 6-12 teachers to partner with CTE teachers to create projects aimed at increasing enrollment and exposure to CTE classrooms and programs. 

The Grateful Global Gathering: Robyn Badtke and Jen Olivares - Oshkosh West High School
Culinary students, Global Academy students, and students with special needs worked together to research and create a meal based on traditional food items from countries around the world. Students used the Culinary lab to prepare, serve and enjoy the dishes. 

Pi Day Pie with Professionals: Melanie Wroblewski and Kayleigh May - Carl Traeger Middle School
Pi Day Pie with Professionals exposes 6th grade Math and Teen Life students to the hands-on Culinary technical skills of making a homemade pie. After studying the pi model in mathematics class students put their math skills into action as they collaborate with a team to make their creations within the Family and Consumer Science Food Lab. 

Integrated Hydroponic Project: Jason Jischke and Jennifer Turner - South Park Middle School
In this project, manufacturing and engineering students work cooperatively to manufacture two hydroponic growing systems and the Family and Consumer Science students plant and maintain the hydroponic systems. The harvested produce is used in culinary cooking labs in 6th grade Teen Life, Independent Living Skills, and Leadership classes. Throughout the project, students were exposed to careers involved in hydroponic farming. 

Diversity Day Fashion Show: Kelly Wayne and Julie Hietpas - Oshkosh West High School
Diversity Day is an opportunity for students of all walks of life to feel accepted and an integral part of Oshkosh West. The fashion show gives many students an opportunity to showcase their skills. This event gives a diverse group a chance to collaborate to create an event for the school and community to celebrate and enjoy.

Lights, Plants and Action: Kim Pruss and Heather Rankin - Oshkosh North High School
Horticultural students will learn how to grow herbs, lettuce and microgreens using new LED lighting. These students will work with the Culinary Arts classes to share the growing and harvesting information. The Culinary Arts students will use the fresh lettuce and herbs to enhance their food lab experiences.

Edward and Belle Rudoy Outstanding Middle School Teacher Award Recipients

The following OASD individuals and schools were recognized as Edward and Belle Rudoy Endowment Fund Award Recipients. 

Don Allen - Carl Treager Middle School
Don is a 6th and 7th grade science teacher at Carl Traeger Middle School, where he has taught for the past 12 years. He has been a teacher for a total of 14 years. Don is passionate about science and continually designs instructional opportunities that allow students to ask questions, test their ideas, and explain their understanding.  Don exposes his students to STEM careers and opportunities beyond the classroom curriculum. He has built a partnership with Oshkosh Corporation, which has led to engineers working with students on STEM projects. Don has also been integral in planning Carl Traeger STEM nights, including securing community partners. Outside of the classroom, Don races boats and brings the Science of his sport into the classroom. He is also involved in coaching and participates in lunch duty as a way to further connect with students.

Stacey Jahns - Perry Tipler Middle School
Stacey is a Special Education teacher at Perry Tipler, where she has been teaching for 21 years. Stacey supports all students, both those assigned to her caseload and those that are not. She opens up her classroom during lunch for students to complete work, gain extra help, and to provide a calm learning environment if students are overwhelmed with the noise in the lunchroom. Stacey is an advocate for her students, always helping them to find their voice and identify what support they need as learners. Stacey is also the glue that holds the 8th grade team together. She works with all teachers to help provide the right level of support during classes and helps organize the group. Stacey has a calm, caring, and trusting demeanor that students quickly relate to, which helps them feel empowered to work and succeed.

Gaby Janz - Perry Tipler Middle School 
Gaby has been a teacher at Perry Tipler Middle School for 6 years and teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages. Gaby supports nearly 40 students who have 12 different native languages. She has many innovative ideas and methods for her students and creates resources and support, so they build understanding and access to new knowledge. Gaby goes above and beyond and will spend extra time teaching during lunch and after school so her students can get additional practice and instruction in their learning. She also helps build strong relationships with families and helps translate when families stop at school and need to communicate with teachers. Gaby participates in Perry Tipler Family Nights, Back to School Fairs, and also supports after school programs.

Christine Koehler - Carl Traeger Middle School
Christine has been teaching for 25 years, and has been at Carl Traeger for the past 8. She teaches 6th and 8th grade literacy. Christine is a teacher that cares deeply about academics and her students’ growth, and pairs this with a level of caring and connection. Christine is completely on top of her game when it comes to her instruction, and the learning activities she creates to engage her students. She is super collaborative with her peers and is constantly reflecting on her craft, thinking of new ways to reach her students.  She has high expectations and pushes her students to grow and achieve at their highest level. In addition to teaching, Christine heads the Gay/Straight Alliance group and is one of the Girl’s Go Forward advisors.

Alex Seidel - South Park Middle School
Alex is an 8th grade social studies teacher and has been teaching for 4 years, 2 of those years at South Park. Alex always has authentic ways to engage his students in his social studies classroom, and he builds amazing relationships with his students. Just recently he had his students engage in creating a gerrymandering game, a legislative branch scavenger hunt, and an amendment project  Alex is also involved in South Park Middle School tier II PBIS program by mentoring students and doing Check In Check Out. Alex coached football and baseball at Oshkosh West for 4 years.  This year, South Park had a need for a volleyball coach and although not having any prior experience, Alex stepped into the challenge and supported the 7th grade team.  Alex is always willing to help out wherever he sees a need.

Edward and Belle Rudoy Technology Grant Award

South Park Middle School was awarded the Edward and Belle Rudoy Technology Grant Award. South Park Middle School will create an area for students to record their voices and/or music, which could be computer generated or from instruments. This will allow students to create podcasts, sportscasts, voiceovers, and unlimited other opportunities. The space will feature podcasting technology for students to also edit audio, along with quality sound equipment. Capturing student voices can be difficult and adding sound booths will help in quality recording. The podcasting equipment will complement the current video equipment, as students can make sound effects, complete voiceovers, narrate, conduct interviews, and more.

Spirit of Education Award

The OASD also announced and recognized the 2023 Spirit of Education Award. This year’s award was presented to Ted Neitzke, Chief Executive Officer and Agency Administrator for CESA 6 - a non-profit, member-driven cooperative educational service agency. Neitzke is a fierce and passionate advocate for young people, and his impact on education - in the community, state, and beyond, is profound. 

The Oshkosh Area School District has been fortunate to partner with Ted on numerous initiatives at all levels of our organization ranging from Board Training to Student Leadership. Through his leadership, and with his expertise, the District has embraced a culture of continuous improvement. School board members are committed to serving as a high performing board to successfully guide our district. Administrators have the skills and confidence to initiate and support improvement at all levels so that the District can continue to do better for students. Staff are encouraged to challenge what’s not working and build solutions so that students have the very best experiences and opportunities. Students are benefiting from the alignment in the system and are invited to be leaders themselves - influencing the way Oshkosh does education. 

As an advocate for education, Ted has a unique ability to inspire and energize those around him. He’s often described as contagiously energetic, insanely curious, and service-orientated. He is the host and creator of “The Smart Thinking Podcast,” which is dedicated to supporting leadership in the classroom, the boardroom, and in life by sparking reflection, action, collaboration, and empathy. He also developed a unique philosophy known as buffalo leadership, which invites educators and leaders to face challenges head-on, to be proactive, optimistic, strong, and courageous. Ted exemplifies the Spirit of Education Award and the District is honored to recognize and celebrate his ongoing impact in Oshkosh. 

Celebrate Education is an annual event honoring local teachers, principals, coaches and volunteers for their continuous hard work and dedication to the students of Oshkosh. During the event, grants are awarded to exceptional public and private school educators for special programs they conduct in the classroom, on the field, and after school. This year’s Celebrate Education event was sponsored by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, Mid-Morning Kiwanis Club of Oshkosh, UWO College of Education and Human Services, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, Oshkosh Area School District Education Foundation, Edward and Belle Rudoy Endowment Fund, and Oshkosh Southwest Rotary.