Clark County educators honored at 35th Excellence in Teaching program

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Four Clark County teachers were honored and celebrated for their dedication to local students.

Kelly Brown, Matt Warrington, Joseph Fultz and Trisha Seckel received the 2024 Excellence in Teaching awards on Monday during the 35th awards program, which is sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club, First Energy, The Springfield Foundation, the Greater Springfield Partnership and the Springfield News-Sun.

Eddie Leventhal, Excellence in Teaching chairperson, said it’s amazing to be able to hold this program for 35 years.

“We have had First Energy, Springfield Rotary and Springfield News-Sun sponsor for all 35 years, and the Springfield Foundation the last 7 or 8 years,” he said. “It’s a big deal. It’s fantastic,” he said about the program and the 140 teachers and educators who have won this award throughout those years.

Each recipient was introduced and gave a short presentation on what teaching has meant to them and the importance of being a teacher. The teachers also received a $1,000 check, a plaque, an etched paperweight and proclamations from the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.

“It is always exciting to be able to recognize, honor, and hear from four outstanding teachers and educators,” Leventhal said. “Each recipient certainly does a great job of showing our community some of the great teaching and learning that is taking place in our Clark County schools on a daily basis.”

Kelly Brown, who teaches high school science, has been teaching for nearly 20 years, with the last 16 years at Catholic Central. She earned her associate of science degree in forensic science from Clark State College and bachelor of science degree in biology from Wright State University.

“I believe that teachers have the ability to impact not only the academic education of the child, but also the person that our students will eventually become. If I had not had all of the experiences (I’ve had) or if I had not had those specific teachers in my life at those times, I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today. If not for these experiences, I likely wouldn’t be standing right here today,” she said.

Matt Warrington, who is in his 27th year of teaching and coaching in the Clark-Shawnee Local School District, teaches seventh- and eighth-grade middle school science. He has a bachelor of science degree in education from Heidelberg University and a master’s degree in leadership from the University of Dayton.

He said the relationship between teaching and coaching is undeniable. “To be a good coach one must first be a good teacher. The skills, principles and values cultivated in the classroom lay the foundation for coaching excellence,” he said. “So whether you find yourself in the classroom or on the field, remember the profound connection between teaching and coaching.... By recognizing and honoring the semiotic relationship, we can cultivate a culture of excellence in both education and athletics.”

Joseph Fultz, who teaches third grade at Simon Kenton Elementary School, is in his 23rd year of teaching, with 13 years in Dayton and 10 in the Springfield City School District. He earned his master’s degree from Wright State University.

“Unlike other professions, we don’t get to clock out and leave it at the building. We leave with an overflowing bag of papers that need grading, the teachers manuals for planning and the materials to prep for lessons. We carry these bags back and forth from work and home,” he said. “Not only that, but each of my kids goes with me as a piece of my heart. I think about what they need, what struggles they have and what I can do to help. I worry about them being safe and cared for at home. The weight of this is 10 times more than the weight of the bag of papers. My kids are more than names on an attendance card, they are truly the light of my life and my reason for being.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Trisha Seckel is in her fourth year teaching AG/STEM Immersion at the Global Impact STEM Academy (GISA). She received her bachelor of science from Wilmington College.

“Teaching at a school that values project based learning has pushed me to grow as a professional. This experience not only has allowed me to innovate in my teaching methods but also reinforce the importance of embracing new approaches to education,” she said. “Receiving this award serves as a reminder of the impact that educators have on the lives of their students and the importance of continuously striving for excellence in teaching.”

The awards program celebrates educators from city and county public and private schools who are nominated by students, colleagues, administrators or members of the public. Through the nomination and selection process, four recipients are then chosen to be awarded, based on their demonstrated excellence in for:

  • Instilling in students a desire to learn and achieve
  • Understanding the individual needs of students and encouraging their talents and fostering self-esteem
  • Demonstrating thorough knowledge of their subject matter and sharing it with students
  • Receiving the respect and admiration of students, parents and coworkers
  • Continuing their interest in their own learning
  • Participation in community and school

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