Duneland School news for parents, students and teachers
April 25, 2022 SPECIAL EDITION Vol. 56 No. 36a
The Duneland School Corporation is proud to announce the winners of the 2022 “Teachers of the Year” and “Employee of the Year” Recognition Program. The winners are:
Elementary Teacher of the Year – Becky Holmen of Westchester Intermediate School;
Secondary Teacher of the Year – Justin Martinson of Chesterton High School; and
Employee of the Year – Danny Dolph, DSC Transportation - Bus Driver
Students, former students, parents, colleagues, administrators, or members of the community were able to nominate a DSC teacher and/or classified employee for this recognition program earlier this year. A selection committee made up of DSC administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community members narrowed down the nominations and interviewed the final nominees before selecting a winner for each category.
Finalists in each of the categories were:
2022 DSC Teacher of the Year Finalists
Lisa Dyer - Chesterton High School
Liz Graupner - Chesterton Middle School
Jennifer Jendrzejczyk - Chesterton High School
Justin Martinson - Chesterton High School
Kim Stento - Chesterton Middle School
Emily Wilt - Chesterton High School
Julie Christian - Yost Elementary School
Jason Conway - Jackson Elementary School
Julie Geisick - Brummitt Elementary School
Becky Holmen - Westchester Intermediate
Tracy Snider - Liberty Elementary School
Brooke Sutter - Liberty Intermediate School
Jamee Swanson - Bailly Elementary School
2022 DSC Employee of the Year Finalists
Brenda Aaron - DSC Transportation
Danny Dolph - DSC Transportation
Rachel Henry - DSC Nurse (Brummitt Elementary)
Colleen McNamara - DSC Maintenance/Grounds Support Services
Lisa Ozimek - DSC Child Nutrition (Bailly Elementary)
This year's winners were awarded at their school/work location by DSC administrators.
Each of the winners received a $500 monetary stipend from the following local sponsors:
McColly Real Estate (Paul Boyter) – Elementary Teacher of the Year
1st Source Bank – Secondary Teacher of the Year
Ellis Electric Inc. – Employee of the Year
The 2022 winners will be recognized at the May 2, 2022 School Board meeting, Beginning of the Year Programs in August, in DSC publications, website, and social media and on a plaque displayed at Central Office. Winners will also receive a classroom/office door banner along with a monetary stipend of $500. Thank you to 1st Source Bank, McColly Real Estate - Paul Boyter and Ellis Electric for continuing to sponsor the recognition program. In addition, both the elementary and secondary winners will represent Duneland teachers in the Indiana Department of Education’s statewide Teacher of the Year Program.
ELEMENTARY TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Becky Holmen - Westchester Intermediate School
Becky Holmen is a Porter County Education Services (PCES) teacher serving students at Westchester Intermediate School (WIS). She is currently a fifth and sixth grade Applied Skills teacher supporting students in a self-contained special education classroom. She teaches all academic areas to students that have a wide range of abilities and behaviors.
In 2013, Becky received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education from Ball State University and for the past two years has been working toward completing her Master's in Education - Administrative Leadership and Supervision. Since August of 2021, in addition to teaching, she has taken on the role as Administrative Intern at Westchester Intermediate School and Chesterton High School to complete her master's degree.
Becky feels that establishing and maintaining relationships with the parents of her students is one of the most important aspects of her job. The formation of a special education parent group helped build those relationships and was a catalyst for organizing the first Porter County Transition Fair to educate parents and community members about a variety of service agencies for children and adults with disabilities. This event brought parents, general education and special education staff, and administrators throughout the county together for the benefit of special needs students.
Becky also works hard to provide her students with learning opportunities that will help guide them to a path of independence. Her students develop job skills and support the school by collecting recycling every week, preparing the cafeteria daily, and watering plants throughout the school building. Becky also works with general education students at WIS. For the past three years, she served as the WIS intramural volleyball coach and mentors students who need additional support outside of the classroom. These ‘extras’ have given Becky the opportunity to work closely with her WIS general education colleagues to support all students and staff members.
Becky initiated a ‘Staff Member of the Month’ program that recognizes faculty and staff who have supported students in an exceptional way. This program has helped support staff members. She also supports the administration and office staff by working with teachers and parents to address attendance concerns at Westchester.
In October of 2021, Becky was recognized as a Kenneth J. Allen Teacher of Excellence, a program that supports Northwest Indiana teachers who go above and beyond for their students. As a special education teacher, she is honored to be nominated for the DSC Elementary Teacher of the Year by the Duneland community and her peers. Becky expressed, “I am truly humbled that my colleagues, students and school community consider me to be such an asset to my school and to them.”
Photo below, left to right, Superintendent Chip Pettit, Principal Shawn Longacre, Elementary Teacher of the Year recipient Becky Holmen, and Award Sponsor Paul Boyter of McColly Real Estate. (DSC photo)
ELEMENTARY TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
SECONDARY TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Justin Martinson - Chesterton High School
Justin Martinson is a German teacher in the World Languages Department at Chesterton High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Culture from Indiana University (IU) in 2011; a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) from Münchner Volkshochschule in Munich, Germany in 2012; and an Master of Arts in Teaching from Calumet College of St. Joseph in 2015.
After graduating from IU 2011, he lived and worked in Germany for three years, allowing him the opportunity to immerse himself in the German language and culture.
He returned to the U.S. in 2014, realizing that he wanted to teach. He began working as a remediation aide at Liberty Elementary School in 2014 while he completed his Masters. He taught as a second grade teacher at Liberty Elementary for two years where he taught creative, engaging lessons to his students. Although he enjoyed teaching at the elementary level, his true dream was to teach German. When the opportunity presented itself, he transitioned to teaching German at CHS in 2017.
“My career as an educator is an expression of my love for people, for learning and experiencing the world,” said Justin. As a teacher, Justin has been in a constant state of becoming and developing to meet the needs and learning styles of his students. He strives to offer creative, engaging, fun lessons that inspire students to love learning itself, for the sake of learning.
He expressed that he hopes his classroom is a place where students look forward to being in and where they feel comfortable being themselves. To have fun, laugh, and joke with each other while engaging with the German language. His classroom has student drawings of giant purple croissants with monster faces, bratwursts with big muscly arms, and other colorful figures adorn the walls–collaborative characters he and his classes created while speaking completely in German. According to a colleague, “he is expressive and engaging, encouraging students to become immersed in the language through a very specific form of instruction. The students are immersed in the language, whether they’re in German 1, 2, or 3, where there is rarely any English spoken.”
This year, Justin implemented a curricular framework and assessment structure developed by Tina Hargaden, whom he learned from at his annual conference for language teachers in Indiana. Something she calls “the daily dose of language” has truly revolutionized the way he delivers content. “It’s engaging, research-based, and I am beginning to see students making progress in their ability and confidence to communicate in German like never before,” he said. “There is no greater honor than to have made a positive impact on the lives of my students,” said Justin.
Justin has been recognized by the Indiana chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German as an outstanding teacher, earning their “Rising Star” award in 2021. In 2017 he received the Kenneth Allen Teacher of Excellence, a program that supports Northwest Indiana teachers who go above and beyond for their students. He also received the Indiana Outstanding Future Educator Award in 2015 and is a 2007 graduate of Chesterton High School.
Photo below, left to right, DSC Assistant Superintendent Robert McDermott; DSC Superintendent Dr. Chip Pettit, CHS Principal Brent Martinson; Director of Human Resources Regan Keating; recipient Justin Martinson; CHS Assistant Principal Heidi Hennigar; award sponsor 1st Source Bank representative and manager Patricia Lahey; and Director of Teaching and Learning K-12 Donna Biggs. (DSC Photo)
SECONDARY TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
Danny Dolph - DSC Transportation - Bus Driver
Danny Dolph has worked as a bus driver at the Duneland School Corporation for 12 years. He came to DSC in 2015 after working as a carpenter for Tonn and Blank for 15 years, where he began his career as a journeyman and over time was promoted to supervisor.
Danny is a reliable school bus driver with a positive attitude who transports students safely, and has a safe driving record. He enjoys his co-workers and sees himself as a motivator who likes to have a positive impact on his students and families. “I like to get to know the students, take an interest in their progress in school and enjoy watching them grow,” he said.
He expressed that driving a school bus is the ‘most rewarding job’ he has ever had, and he is ‘proud to represent the Duneland Transportation team.’
His supervisor, Transportation Director Ben Armstrong, said that in the six years that he has worked with Daniel, he can attest, without hesitation, that he is a dedicated bus driver. He said, “Danny is a driver who is there for his students giving them a greeting when they get on the bus in the morning and bidding them farewell when they get off the bus in the afternoon. He is the type of driver who gets to know his students and does his best to make things a little better for them each day.”
During the pandemic, the role of the bus driver proved to be more challenging. “Daniel’s consistent presence and influence has brought stability during a time of struggle for a lot of students,” said Armstrong. "He has an impact on his students and their lives."
One example of this influence was brought to light when one of his students, a 2021 graduate, wrote a letter to him at the end of the school year. In her letter she concluded, “Thank you for helping me figure out who I wanted to be. You are a great person, but an even better role model.”
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Duneland School Corporation is located in Northwest Indiana and serves over 5875 students from a 92 square-mile area including Westchester, Jackson, Liberty and parts of Pine Townships, all located in Porter County.