INDIANAPOLIS – June 17, 2016 – Thursday evening Indiana State Teachers Association honored educators and public education advocates during a ceremony at their annual Summer Conference. This year 13 individuals, organizations or local associations were recognized for their contributions to public education.
“Congratulations to all of our honorees,” said ISTA President Teresa Meredith. “Each person or local association recognized demonstrates the continuing and deep support for public education in Indiana. They don’t receive enough praise for all that they do, but we’re glad they can be acknowledged by their colleagues.”
Mark Kessans, a member of the New Albany Floyd County Education Association, received the Pacesetter Award. This award recognizes an ISTA member who actively promotes public education and protects the rights of members. Kessans has inspired colleagues through his leadership as an ISTA and NEA Representative Assembly delegate and as an educator who strives for the betterment of the profession for his students.
The N. Robert Montfort Communications Award recognizes outstanding communications efforts of members and local associations. The honorees included Leslie Brown with Hamilton Southeastern Education Association, Leah Timmons with West Clark Teachers Association, New Albany Floyd County Bus and Prairie Heights Education Association.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes local association leaders in the year of their retirement or the year immediately following their retirement. Three retired educators received the award, David Knies formerly with Silver Creek Middle School in Sellersburg, Kathy Parks formerly with South Gibson School Corporation in Fort Branch and Susan Thimlar formerly with Concord West Side Elementary in Elkhart.
Celia Motz, a member of the Prairie Heights Education Association, received the Community Service Award. This award is designed to recognize outstanding examples of courage, commitment, innovation or dedication to the community. Motz volunteers extensively in her community from serving as a board member at the Joyce Public Library to acting as a youth leader at her church.
Michelle Sokol, education reporter with the Elkhart Truth, received the School Bell Award. This award recognizes a media professional who has produced exceptional work highlighting public education. Sokol’s “Classroom Chronicles” series has resulted in her visiting every public school in Elkhart County during the 2015 – 16 school year.
The J.D. Miller Young Activist Award recognizes traits of advocacy, activism and potential leadership in educators during their first five years of teaching. This year, two individuals received the award Kevin Cross, an agriculture and vocational teacher at Sullivan High School in Sullivan and Grace Cross, an elementary teacher at White River Valley Schools in Worthington.
The Indiana Pacers community relations team received the Friend of Education Award in acknowledgement of the work they do to support childhood literacy, nutrition and health through various programs.