Tolles staff nabs three state awards

Three members of the Tolles Career & Technical Center family—Jim Scott, James Ruble and Maggie Gates—were honored during the annual Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education Conference in Columbus. On hand for the awards ceremony were (from left) Tolles Superintendent Carl Berg, Tolles Entry Year Coordinator/Lead Mentor Teacher Wendy Nichols, Ruble, Scott, Gates, and Tolles Building Principal Steve Hull.

At Tolles Career & Technical Center in Plain City, the primary part of the educational institution’s mission is the importance of putting students first.

Recently, Tolles received validation that the mission is being accomplished. Tolles serves 10 high schools in seven school districts that span Franklin, Madison and Union counties.

Three members of Tolles’ professional staff recently were honored for their work with and on behalf of students. The ceremony was part of a luncheon at the annual Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education Conference (ACTE) held in Columbus. Those recognized were Jim Scott with the 2008 Ohio ACTE Teacher of the Year Award, James Ruble with the 2008 Ohio ACTE Outstanding New Career and Technical Education Teacher Award, and Maggie Gates with the 2008 Ohio ACTE Student Services Division Pacesetter Award.

Scott and Ruble were nominated by Tolles Entry Year Coordinator/Lead Men-tor Teacher Wendy Nichols, while Gates was nominated by John Martin, president of the Student Services Division for Ohio ACTE. This marks the first time a school has been recognized with the Teacher and New Teacher of the Year awards in the same year.

According to Ohio ACTE, the Teacher of the Year Award “recognizes a teacher who provides outstanding career and technical education programs for youth and/or adults in their respective fields and communities. Recipients of this award must have made significant contributions toward innovative, unique and novel programs that are serving to improve and promote career and technical education.”

As the leader of the turf, landscape and greenhouse management program at Tolles, Scott has truly made his mark in just three years at the school. Partnering with such organizations as Muirfield Village Golf Club, Scott has provided valuable opportunities for his students. As a teacher mentor, Scott has served as a role model for new and veteran educators. His Turf Advisory Board partners public education with business/industry. In 2007 Scott was honored by the Madison County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

“It is truly humbling to receive an award for something that is a team effort,” Scott said. “From my high school teacher 37 years ago to the professionals I work with today, it shows their desire to make students successful.”

According to his nominator, Scott is a leader in many respects.

“From his first year at Tolles, I saw him doing things that no career tech teacher or academic teacher had ever done—out-of-state field trips, community-industry coordinated projects, etc.,” Nichols said. “Jim is an incredibly creative, hardworking and dedicated teacher.”

These sentiments were echoed by Tolles Superintendent Carl Berg as he wrote a letter in support of Scott being considered for a similar award on the regional and national levels.

“Jim is the complete teacher: part educator, part politician, part parent, part salesman, part thespian, and part mentor,” Berg wrote. “Through personality, knowledge, openly-expressed and sincere interest in student success, long hours on the job, and just plain old fashioned hard work, Jim has transformed a stagnant educational program into a vibrant, verdant educational experience that captures not only the students‚ interest, but also the interest of our community.”

As a Tolles graduate himself, Ruble has found a way to pay his alma mater back for starting him on the successful path his life has taken. After several years, Ruble returned to Tolles as an instructor for the engineering design program.

“It is a great honor to represent Tolles with this award,” Ruble said. “As a student and now a teacher, I believe in all that Tolles has to offer.”

According to Ohio ACTE, the New Career and Technical Education Teacher Award is designed to “encourage new teachers to remain in the profession. Recipients of this award must have made significant contributions toward innova-tive, unique and novel programs and have shown a professional commitment early in their careers.”

Ruble has done that. One example is his initiation of the school’s first dual enroll-ment course partnering Tolles with Sinclair Community College.

“Along with his solid work ethic and strong knowledge base, James has involved himself with Tolles by striking up relationships with higher education and the business community,” Nichols said. “In my career at Tolles, I have never seen a young teacher with such command of his classroom and so much energy devoted to promoting his program, his school, and career technical education.”

For those reasons, and many more, Berg also supports Ruble for consideration at the regional and national levels.

“Watching James teach is like picking up a really good book and being unable to put it down,” Berg wrote of Ruble. “James is, through his educational and work experiences, his love of learning, his willingness to glean even the smallest professional insight from his colleagues, his devotion to his students, and his love of his new profession, one fine example for new career-technical teachers everywhere.”

As a school counselor at Tolles, Gates has been a pacesetter, as her award suggests, garnering praise from those in the student services arena.

“Maggie is a leader and role model to others in this field,” said her nominator Martin, a school counselor at Upper Valley Joint Vocational School in Piqua. “She spends time with anything that will benefit students and the Student Services profession.’

Through her dedication to Tolles and Ohio ACTE, Gates was just one of two student services professionals in the state to receive the Pacesetter Award.

“Her contributions to Tolles Career & Technical Center, Ohio ACTE, her community, and her family are too many to enumerate,” said Debra Snyder, Tolles student services supervisor. “Whether working with students, parents, teachers, administrators, associate school personnel, community members, or college partners, Maggie is the ultimate professional.”

While she appreciates the recognition, Gates is hopeful that this will encourage more students and their families to see all that Tolles has to offer.

“There was a long period of time when people said they knew Tolles existed but didn’t know much about it. It is exciting that the opportunities that exist at Tolles for students are no longer the ‘best kept secret,’ ” Gates said. “Tolles Career & Technical Center is definitely on the Ohio map of career and technical education.”



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