(Posted Jan. 14, 2022)
Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
In addition to talking about policy, personnel and finances, the Madison-Plains school board sets aside time at each of its monthly meetings to recognize students and staff. Among those recognized at the Jan. 11 meeting were two STAR students and a devoted elementary school teacher.
Superintendent Chad Eisler recognized high school students Will Hawkins and Emma Wethington for their selection as Community STARs. The program, sponsored by the Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center, honors students who know what it means to serve the needs of others. STAR stands for serving others, teamwork, attitude, and reliability.
For the past two years, Hawkins has assisted with Sufficient Grace, a local organization that provides food to students in need. He has helped to recruit other student volunteers, used his own vehicle to transport materials from Madison-Plains to West Jefferson, and recently started helping to make food orders.
Hawkins’s nomination also noted that he continued to support the high school football team this past fall after suffering a major injury during a summer practice. Additionally, he has started an auto detailing business and successfully balances work and school. His nomination described him as a silent leader in class, a mentor to other students, and someone with a glass half-full attitude.
Wethington’s nomination emphasized her advocacy efforts on behalf of her classmates. She isn’t afraid to have discussions with adults to point out how policy and protocol changes impact students. As a member of the soccer team, she makes suggestions to the coach to benefit the team as a whole.
Passionate about her positive experience at a camp at Ohio Wesleyan University for gifted and talented students, Wethington gave a presentation to Madison-Plains students in grades 6-8, encouraging them to apply for the camp. A record number applied but could not attend due to the pandemic. She also serves as a mentor to other students academically. Her nomination described her as empathetic and composed with high standards for herself and a strong moral compass.
Under employee recognition, Eisler commended third-grade teacher Rachel Thompson, who has served the district for nine years and has worked in education for 20 years. She is an Ohio State University graduate. Her top priorities are her family and her faith. Principal Brad Miller described her as an integral part of the elementary school and district-wide leadership teams.
Thompson’s professional peers noted that she often works long hours and isn’t afraid to ask questions or receive feedback. She was praised for her work in implementing the literacy curriculum, cultivating a love of reading in her students, and regularly monitoring her students’ data and her teaching approach to provide the best education for the students.
“The world needs more teachers like Mrs. Thompson,” said Arica Vallery, a fellow third-grade teacher. “Her love of teaching is contagious and evident in her ability to engage students in reading and writing. She knows what motivates each student and works with students as a partner in their learning. She’s creative, caring, and makes each day of my job more enjoyable.”