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The Rochester Community Schools Foundation recognizes that the most valuable resource of the school district is the staff of individuals who interact with students and the community. It is our desire to acknowledge the strength of those individuals whose exemplary commitment sets a standard of excellence in our district.
Any employee of the district who has demonstrated exemplary performance towards improving the quality of teaching and learning or the overall environment of the school district is eligible. Winners must be currently employed by the district. Rochester Community Schools Foundation Board Members are not eligible to participate.
The Rochester Community Schools Foundation developed the Excellence in Education Award (EEA) to encourage outstanding efforts throughout the school district. A $500 to $1,000 award will be granted to two or more employees for their efforts to improve the quality of education at Rochester Community Schools. Award dollars are to be used to purchase materials or services to enhance a school district classroom, curriculum or facility. The award must be spent during the current school year or no later than one semester into the new school year. This is a one-time only grant that is not renewable.
*The amount granted to the employee(s) is determined by the generous donation from Pino Insurance Agency.*
The process is simple. Nominations may come from any person in the school or community. In addition, you may nominate more than one employee and employees may nominate themselves for the award.
The EEA Review Committee will review all submissions and select and surprise the award winners at their buildings in front of their peers and/or students in May.
Please refer to the selection criteria when completing the nomination form. Please click here to complete the the nomination form or refer to the original e-mail sent to all community members, parents and staff.
Nominations and letters of recommendation are due to RCS Foundation by no later than Friday, March 24, 2023. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
Winners are required to submit a letter detailing how they plan to spend their award. Award recipients will be required to submit a final report by June 2024, detailing expenses and a narrative summary and pictures of how they spent the awarded grant.
REMINDER: Click below to review examples of how an employee might meet the criteria:
Scroll Over (or Tap) Each Picture to See More Pictures or Read More About the Recipients!
(This section is in progress... Please check back soon to view all the recipients since 2019)
CHAD ZWOLINKSI, Rochester High School social studies teacher who “leads with love.” Students, colleagues and parents praise Mr. Zwolinski for his genuine kindness and supportive teaching style. Students said: he helps us become better human beings. Congratulations, Chad!
DAWN KLEMP, Baldwin Elementary teacher. Her nominators said: she treats her students as if they were her own children; her love shows through every single day; and she sees so much potential in each and every one of her students. Ms. Klemp is known providing a friendly environment where students feel safe and loved. Congratulations, Dawn!
BARB GASKO, McGregor Elementary paraeducator, each morning, welcomes students at school with a big smile, a caring heart and her signature greeting, “Good morning, sunshine! Good morning, love!” A McGregor parent said, “My daughter is excited to see her every single day, because she is a beacon of positivity and safety.” Congratulations, Barb!
KELLY KUBIK, Meadow Brook teacher. Well loved and appreciated by students, families and fellow staff members, Ms. Kubik actively and intentionally collaborates with resource teachers, speech therapists, psychologists and parents to get the best support for every student. Her nominator said, “She takes care of her students academically and emotionally.” Congratulations, Kelly!
HANAN SPENCER, West Middle School math teacher. When West students excel at math, they often have Mrs. Spencer to thank. Because of her expertise, teaching skills and understanding of students, she balances high expectations for quality work with a caring and compassionate approach. Congratulations, Hanan!
TRACYE SCHWARTZ, Rochester Adams High School teacher and learning consultant. Nominated by several Highlander parents, she was recognized for her tireless commitment to student success and her deep respect for all people. Parents said, “The compassion she has for her students is unspeakable. She meets them where they are.” Congratulations, Tracye!
LAURA DUFF, Reuther teacher and coach. Students said that “She goes the extra mile to help students who are struggling. She allows us to make mistakes. She cares about how we feel. She’s welcoming and easy to talk to. She’s inclusive.” We are grateful to Mrs. Duff for the outstanding service, education and care she provides to her Reuther Crusaders. Congratulations, Laura!
JEFF FRANKOWIAK, Principal was chosen to start the RCS Virtual Campus, a brand new school, created during a pandemic to meet a critically important need. With great sensitivity to disparate backgrounds and demands of the community, he trained and inspired 50 teachers from a myriad of schools to teach 3,000+ students. His positive, upbeat attitude remains infectious and constant. Congratulations, Jeff!
JEFF FOSNAUGH, Rochester High School biology teacher, understands and empowers students with his attention to whole-child education. He is particularly good at meeting the needs of students who may be struggling in certain subjects or areas of their lives. Plus, he makes learning fun and interesting. Congratulations, Jeff!
LINDA KEY, Hart Middle School Secretary, was honored with an Excellence in Education Award for her unwaveringly dedication! An RCS parent said “The office is run so smoothly it doesn’t seem like a job. She treats everyone with respect and goes out of her way to make sure families have what they need so their students are successful.” Congratulations, Linda!
ELIZABETH LANG, McGregor Elementary transitional KG teacher, was honored with an Excellence in Education Award, after being nominated by multiple current and former colleagues and mentors who recognize her “profound dedication to pursuing young children’s rights to a wonder-filled, play-based education.” Congratulations, Elizabeth!
JULIE SCHMIDT, RCS Virtual Campus math teacher being honored with an Excellence in Education Award because “she goes out of her way to praise all students when they share their ideas, building confidence in all her children. Her kind and caring nature and excellent instructional techniques make her an exceptional educator.” Congratulations, Julie!
AMY DICRESCE, District Public Affairs Specialist. Amy won an Excellence in Education Award for her “respectful, positive advocacy for RCS students.” One nominator described her as a “true example of how to unite everyone around her through kindness, grace and compassion.” Congratulations, Amy!
DAVID UHRIG, Rochester High School Falcons band teacher. Honored and recognized with an Excellence in Education Award for his “commitment and drive for excellence, which promotes a solid work ethic and confidence in students.” Congratulations David!
ANDREA PIEJAK, Long Meadow music teacher recognized and honored with an Excellence in Education Award for her “master teacher” skills. Ms. Piejak’s nominator said, “Her students practice, then perform for each other. They stop, listen and applaud their classmates’ work.” Congratulations, Andrea!
AARON MIZE, Stoney Creek High School teacher, has been described as the “perfect example of the RCS strategic plan, embodied through a teacher.” For being an outstanding mentor, teacher and coach who always makes time to meet student needs, Mr. Mize has been honored with an Excellence in Education Award. Congratulations, Aaron!
Wow! YINMING (AMY) WU, Chinese teacher for secondary grades, received EIGHT separate nominations for the Excellence in Education Award from parents, co-workers and students. Learning another language can be very difficult, but Ms. Wu has used movies, songs, cooking lessons, even field trips to a local Asian market to keep students engaged and having fun while learning. Congratulations, Amy!
SHELBY DESJARDINS, Hugger Elementary teacher was honored with an Excellence in Education Award for going the extra mile and for transitioning students to remote learning with great care. She has made a difference in the lives of her students and helps families in this new learning environment. Congratulations, Shelby!
MARY JANE (MJ) COSGROVE, district technology facilitator, is an Excellence in Education Award winner! Her nominator said, “Mary Jane is truly an example of ideal customer service and a team player! She exhibits professionalism, whether she’s working with a classroom teacher, student, administrator or colleague.” Congratulations, MJ!
MARK MACFARLAND, Adams High School teacher, football coach and Youth in Government advisor, was recognized for inspiring students and athletes with his unique brand of teaching, which includes life lessons along the way. He “exposes students to cultures and outlooks in an unbiased manner to empower students to form their own viewpoints.” Congratulations, Mark!
ANNE EDWARDS, Stoney Creek High School teacher, was surprised with an Excellence in Education Award for her relentless advocate for students, especially those overcoming adversity. Her nominator said she provides “life-changing educational support that demonstrates honor and respect for each individual, regardless of his/her limitations.” Congratulations, Anne!
WHITNEY MARSHALL, Long Meadow teacher, was recognized in front of her colleagues for her professionalism, collaboration and dedication to our students, faculty and community! Congratulations, Whitney!
RACHEL MAINERO, Reuther teacher and mentor, was described as “a true gem to Reuther Middle School.” She has “empowered students to use their voices and talents to impact student culture” and inspires the staff with support and guidance. In addition to leading student clubs including Makerspace, the Teen Advisory Board, and Reuther News Team. Congratulations, Rachel!
JEFF GEHM, Delta Kelly teacher, was described as a “unique educator whose style is profoundly engaging!” Jeff is a student favorite for many reasons: his fun tie collection, classroom loft area, his love of travel and culture, humanitarian charities, global education partnerships, and desire to nurture problem-solving and deep thinking skills. Congratulations, Jeff!
LISA DIMEFSKI, Learning Consultant at Hart Middle School, was recognized as a “pillar of support” for “being courageous, taking positive risks to move staff and students forward, and for having a clear student-centered focus.” Congratulations, Lisa!
For more information contact the RCS Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org