Local teachers awarded for their efforts and inspiration | SierraSun.com
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Local teachers awarded for their efforts and inspiration

For the seventh consecutive year, colleagues and friends gathered at a convocation to award outstanding and innovative teachers in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. The Linda Brown Fellows Award – a program initiated in 1999 by Scott Ryan, a former president of the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation, and named for long-time Tahoe Truckee Unified teacher Linda Brown – was accorded to five teachers in the form of $2,000 for use in the classroom and $500 for personal enjoyment. Twenty-five teachers were nominated this year by parents, students, members of the community and colleagues. The recipients included Leslie Fansler, from North Tahoe Middle School; Heather Hardy, from Tahoe Lake Elementary; Kilty Highfill, from Glenshire Elementary; Tara House, from Kings Beach Elementary; and Larry Leatherman, from Tahoe Truckee High. “I’m just flabbergasted,” said Highfill, who has been with the district since 1989, and has been previously nominated for the fellows award, but won for the first time this year. “I work in such a great school. I wish that the whole site had been awarded, especially my second grade team because we all work together so well, and the person at the helm, [Kathleen Gauthier]. She sets the tone and is willing to let us take risks in the way we approach different subjects.” Sandy Leatherman was a prize recipient for the 2003-2004 school year, making her and Larry the first husband-wife fellows award winners. Since its inception, the foundation has honored 31 teachers – 17 of whom have been from the Truckee side of the district – with a total of $62,500.Anyone interested in nominating a teacher for the 2006-2007 school year can do so by picking up applications at a local school office.SIDEBARThis year’s recipients were nominated for a variety of reasons that touched on everything from teaching methods, to community involvement, to enthusiasm and inspiration. Here is what some people had to say about the winners:

LESLIE FANSLER”She is dedicated to helping Latina women graduate from high school, [and] she shares her wealth of English language development experiences with the staff. She promotes Latino parent participation in school activities by translating at events. She is respected among her peers and her message and coaching are well received by all.”- Nicole Sayegh, colleague HEATHER HARDY”Entering her classroom is an incredibly rich experience. She is one of the most talented teachers in the arts that I have ever observed.” Hardy created an after school cross-country skiing program that served more than 140 students at the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Center last winter, as well as an early bird math and reading program for students needing extra help.- Catherine Hyde, colleague KILTY HIGHFILLHighfill was nominated as a teacher who builds community in her classroom, and focuses not only on the value of education, but also on the importance of teaching children to be good citizens.

–Laurie Mann, parentTARA HOUSEHouse was nominated as a teacher who goes above and beyond what is expected of a teacher and member of the community. During this past spring break, she flew to Guadalajara to aid a Truckee family who had to move unexpectedly. She helped to clean out their apartment here, sell their car, and enroll their children in school in Mexico.–Yvonne Hagen, colleagueLARRY LEATHERMAN”He is an inspiration and a roll model to his students. He brings out the best in everyone and can always find something good in something bad. He would hold study session at his house and make us dinner on his own time, when he didn’t even have to. With him there isn’t a typical teacher-student relationship, it’s a friend-friend relationship.” –Jessie Kautz, Student At the convocation, dozens of teachers were also awarded for serving more than five years in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Those with milestones in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District included:



Susan Phebus, 25 years in the district, now the principal at both Alder Creek Middle School and Donner Trail SchoolLisa Abrahams, 20 years in the district officeLynda Burks, 20 years in the district officeSue Salas, 20 years in the district officeCarol Orey, 20 years in the district, now at Glenshire ElementaryNancy Welsh, 20 years in the district, now at Glenshire ElementaryDeborah Gerdin, 20 years in the district, now at Truckee ElementaryCathy Valle, 20 years in the district, now the principal of Truckee ElementarySusan Lowder, 20 years in the district, now at Truckee ElementaryBarbara York, 20 years in district transportation


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