“I don’t just want to win basketball games, I want to be noted for winning; winners period,” said Chester Mayor John Linder. “Academic champions and basketball champions same year. We can do that.”
The mayor was addressing a hall full of Chester Upland School District (CUSD) staff, administrators, parents and students on Monday as they honored 16 staff members and six parents at CUSD’s first Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony at Chester High School.
“We have very high expectations for our staff; for our students, but we’ve always got to find a way to give back and say, ‘thank you’,” said CUSD Superintendent Greg Shannon. “Every single individual in the new (school district) has been charged with contributing to the education of our children. We appreciate everyone’s efforts to help our students achieve their full potential and want to make sure to recognize the most outstanding of our many leaders.”
Classroom teachers, counselors, a language teacher, a learning coach, a principal, a building engineer, support staff members, and six Parent/Teacher Organization (PTO) presidents were recognized for their contributions to the district throughout the 2013-2014 school year.
“This is great. This is the beginning of our celebrating and honoring our outstanding people every year,” said CUSD Receiver Joe Watkins. “We are in the midst of turning this district around, and this has been an incredibly successful year for us. It’s only fitting that we officially recognize those who have made significant contributions to these efforts.”
Linder said he was happy to see the progress made by the school district and attributed some of its success to the “partnership” between CUSD and Chester City government.
“Children take their cues from adults and if we get together, they’ll get together,” charged Linder. “This is the first year I believe that the school district and the city partnered the way that we partnered. I just want to say I appreciate the partnership and I appreciate the friendship. You can’t do anything without your friends.”
Award recipients were nominated by fellow staff members using criteria developed by the district. Recipients of the teacher awards had to exhibit a deep understanding of content and pedagogy, an understanding and appreciation of their students and what they bring to the education encounter and an ability to involve parents in the learning process.
Outstanding Teacher awards went to Christopher Orr, of Main Street Elementary School; Dietra Burton and Phyllis Robinson, of Stetser Elementary School; Deborah Mahoney and Sharon Baxter, of Toby Farms Elementary School; Tamiko Barber and Lisa Mangini, of Chester Upland School of the Arts (CUSA); Margaret Rios of STEM at Showalter High School; Evonne Mbadiwe and Fareia Howie, of Chester High School; and CUSA Principal Sara Ferguson.
Vision awards went to Officer Ronald Simonson, of Chester High School; Head Custodian Brian Wright, of STEM at Showalter High School; Transportation Security Wendi Williams; Administrative Assistant LaTosha Murray, of the Maintenance Department; and Technology Technician Zack DiFonzo.
PTO presidents were also recognized for their active engagement which included Stephen Edwards, at Main Street Elementary School; Nisheema Green, at Stetser Elementary School; Carmello Young, at Toby Farms Elementary School; Marsha Taylor-Robertson, at CUSA; Philana Taylor, of STEM at Showalter High School; and Raushanah Carter at Chester High School.
“Thank you for acknowledging any goodness that I’ve done. I take great pleasure in this: in the children, teachers and staff,” said honoree Carter. “It was fun doing it.”