The common thread between this year’s Sedalia Community Educators Association’s outstanding associate and educator is their drive to give students opportunities to succeed.
Deanna Jones, a social worker at Sedalia Middle School, received the associate honor and Michael Wright, the industrial technology instructor at Smith-Cotton High School, was awarded the teaching prize Tuesday in a ceremony in the Heckart Performing Arts Center at the high school.
Faculty and staff at each Sedalia School District 200 building nominate co-workers for the awards; building winners are determined, then SCEA executive committee members and building representatives choose a district winner in each category.
SCEA President Karen Collier said making the final choice is difficult “because they are all outstanding. They are all very qualified.”
In presenting Jones as the middle school’s associate honoree, Collier lauded her work ethic as authentic and compassionate.
“Deanna spends her days ... finding means of support for families with many needs,” Collier said. “Her thoughts are always intentional and focused on making all children feel as though they have a place, or that someone cares.”
Jones, who was a teacher before becoming a social worker three years ago, was moved by the award.
“I am very fortunate to work for the district,” she said. “I love our schools, I love our community, I love how supportive everyone is. I feel like if everyone works together, the kids are going to succeed — and that is what we are all here for.”
Wright created Team SCREAM (Smith-Cotton Robotics, Engineering and Mathematics), the high school’s robotics team, and is the instructor for Project Lead The Way, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, curriculum. This is his second year at S-C.
High school Principal Steve Triplett said Wright “has made an immediate impact on that department and on Project Lead The Way. Technology is everywhere, and Michael Wright just brings that to life for our kids. ... Every kid has a niche, and Michael Wright has filled another niche in this community and in this school for those kids who may not have found that place yet.”
Wright called the honor “a humbling thing.”
“I appreciate the recognition, we have an awesome staff here at S-C,” he said. “Teachers all deserve these kinds of awards. It means a lot to be recognized by your staff. It’s a good feeling.”
Michelle Steger, a fifth-grade science teacher at the middle school and SCEA secretary-treasurer, said of Wright: “He’s young, he’s new, and yet he has a lot of really great ideas. He’s just really going at it and doing a lot of new activities with (students). Bringing together the robotics program ... has been a positive for (the high school).”
Steger gets to see Jones in action every day at the middle school.
“She is the most caring, giving person you can meet,” Steger said. “She goes above and beyond in every aspect. ... She’s going at a 90-mph pace all day long, but she is always smiling about it.”
Jones finds gratification in her work, connecting families and their children with resources they need.
“That, in turn, helps the kids succeed in school, giving them the foundation that they need,” she said.
Jones “is just an amazing individual,” Steger added.
A special honor was awarded to the late Chuck Hammond, a custodian and maintenance worker at Horace Mann Elementary who died unexpectedly last fall. Collier said Hammond “took pride in everything he did” and “spent a lot of time building relationships with the students of Horace Mann, which is something not seen in the average school custodian.”
Hammond’s wife, Patty, accepted the award.
Associate Building Winners
Smith-Cotton High School: Jeannine Satterwhite
Smith-Cotton Junior High: Dean Collins
Sedalia Middle School: Deanna Jones
Heber Hunt Elementary: Janette Anderson
Horace Mann Elementary: Chuck Hammond
Parkview Elementary: Tony Neth
Skyline Elementary: Lauretta Oetman
Washington Elementary: Kenny Jobson
Early Child Hood Co-Op: Robin Ewing
Educator Building Winners
Smith-Cotton High School: Michael Wright
Smith-Cotton Junior High: Sara Harvilla
Sedalia Middle School: Kelly Hagan
Heber Hunt Elementary: Patsy Bowser
Horace Mann Elementary: Janice Hartgrave
Parkview Elementary: Susan Purtle
Skyline Elementary: Amy Wise
Washington Elementary: Ryan Lynn
Early Childhood Co-Op: Alisha Huddleston