ISEA awards 2022

On Wednesday, April 20th, ten employees from the Algona School District were nominated for the ISEA Excellence in Education award. This is a recognition program sponsored by the Iowa State Education Association to honor Iowa’s everyday heroes, the ones who demonstrate excellence every day for their students and schools. The ten employees who received this award include: Kevin Hoover, Bruce Gervais, Kim Knudsen, Crystal Menage, Bob Baer, Mindi Spear, Billy Bradford, Shelby Berte, Matt Stein, and Brian Connick. 

Bob Baer is a custodian at Bryant Elementary. Some of the reasons Baer was nominated for this award is for his concern for the students and the many things he does to make the school a safe and welcoming place for kids. Baer always has a friendly greeting for the students and will stop what he is doing to listen if they are just wanting to talk. Bob starts his days off at 6:30 a.m. During the cold winter months, he always keeps an eye on the kids and if any of them are not dressed appropriately, he will let them come inside and keep warm. Not only does Baer work very hard to keep the schools clean and germ free, he has also played a big part in behavior plans for students. Helping Bob pick up trash and clean has been used as a “reward activity” for students who may need an “incentive” to carry out their behavior plan and reach their goals. 

Shelby Berte is a family and consumer science teacher at Algona Middle School. Shelby was nominated for this award because throughout her time at Algona schools, she has been a prime example of an excellent teacher. Being a family and consumer science teacher, Berte is able to provide her students with real-life experiences and she does just that. Berte is constantly looking for new and exciting ways to teach her curriculum to the students. Shelby is also the 7th grade SEL teacher, and through her leadership role, she has impacted the entire middle school. 

Billy Bradford is a custodian at Bertha Godfrey. Bradford was nominated for this award because he is very willing to help out wherever it is needed. Bradford always notices the students who need extra love. He always stops in the classrooms to say hi to the students. The amount of love he has for all of the students goes beyond measure. Bradford works very hard to make the building clean, safe, and welcoming. No matter what Bradford is doing or how busy he gets, he will always step in when children are in need. If he ever sees a student having a bad day, he will make sure he goes in and visits with them. Billy is also very involved in the Remote Control Car Racing program. He spends countless hours working on the track, the racing program, and with children to promote this hobby. He has cared for and developed local tracks, including the one at his residence that he invites everyone to use. 

Brian Connick is a teacher at Algona High School. Connick was nominated for this award for his dedication to the students and his coworkers. Connick is always working to become a better teacher for his students. He strives to develop lessons that engage students and provide them with new experiences. Connick works to help students find a career path, whether that is to college or the workforce. Students respect Mr.Connick because he strives to create relationships that are meaningful. Brian is always willing to help his coworkers, no matter what it is for. Brian is always learning and incorporating new ideas into his classroom. Connick’s knowledge of history and his content areas are second to none. Brian also strives to make the school a better place. He was instrumental in the Wall of Fame recognition at Algona High School. Connick is extremely professional and is a wonderful educator. He cares deeply for his students and their learning. 

Bruce Gervais is a bus driver for Algona schools. Bruce was nominated for this award for the daily effort he puts in when driving buses. Bruce always greets students, athletes, teachers, and coaches with a pleasant saying and a smile. Gervais is always ready to lend a helping hand when it comes to loading equipment onto the buses. Noel McLaughlin stated, “I instantly feel the positive energy when I walk on the bus and see Bruce greeting me with a smile as our driver. He is the first person our students see when they get on the bus and the last person they see when they get off the bus. Bruce’s smile is a great way to start and end the day!”

Kevin Hoover is a bus driver for the Algona schools and has been transporting students and staff for 35 years. Hoover was nominated for this award for going above and beyond when it comes to his job. Staff members have stated that it is nice seeing that he once drove them to school and now he is doing it for their children. Mike Ford stated, “I’ve always enjoyed visiting with Kevin and being on his bus. He will be missed, as he was a great supporter of our athletic teams and school in general.” Hoover also supports the students while subbing and watching their games and events when he transports them to their activities. 

Kim Knudsen has been an associate at Bryant Elementary in Algona for many years. Kim was nominated for this award because she is excellent with the students and relating to them. She is one of the associates whom teachers feel lucky to have assigned to their classroom. Kim has a really good way of showing the students that she cares about them. She seems to know when students need a break before they get too frustrated. Kim is always very positive and greets students with a smile. On the mornings that students need to be inside because of the cold temperatures, she can be found sharing jokes with the students who are waiting to go to their class or just talking with them about things that matter to them. Cindy Schmitt stated, “As a classroom teacher, it is very comforting to know that Kim is in the classroom when you are absent. Things run so smoothly because she knows the routines and is willing to help the sub with whatever needs to be done.”

Crystal Menage is a cook at Bryant Elementary. Crystal was nominated for this award because she always carries out her job responsibilities in a professional and positive manner. Menage is always welcoming to the students as they go through the line for breakfast and helps many students start their days on a positive note. She is also very aware of the students who usually eat breakfast and have not come through the line yet and checks to make sure that they are fed. During the last couple of years, Crystal has had many more guidelines to follow and carry out to keep the lunchroom sanitized and germ free. She took on the extra responsibilities with a positive attitude even through the many changes to be followed. 

Mindi Spear is an English teacher at Algona High School. Mindi was nominated for this award because she always goes above and beyond for students and staff at Algona High School. Mindi has the yearbook responsibility at AHS, but she also makes thousands of photos available to students and parents after events that she attends on her own time. Another opportunity Mindi provides is taking senior pictures for students who did not have any taken or maybe could not afford them. She truly lives the Respect, Integrity, Students First, and Excellence (RISE) at AHS. In the classroom, Mindi helps students who are behind in credits gain enough back to graduate. Students identify Spear as always happy and she makes classes fun. Her morning greeting in the hallways brightens the mood of many who pass by her. 

Matt Stein is a science teacher at Algona High School. Matt was nominated for this award because, as Brian Connick states, “Everything he does aligns with the very title of the award.” Matt has always been an individual who loves to learn and is not afraid to dig in and find out the answers to whatever questions/challenges he is faced with. Even as a young teacher, Matt has gained the respect of his peers by his hard work, passion for teaching, and willingness to always help in any way he can. 

Congratulations to all of the employees who were nominated. We appreciate everything you guys have done for the students, staff, and school community.