Ford at RAMAC Awards: A Night of Inspiration
"All of us recall special teachers?people who not only taught us but inspired us in ways that changed our lives."
Debbie Ford often uses the word "inspiration" when she talks about education. That was certainly the case when Ford, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, served as master of ceremonies for the RAMAC Education Excellence Awards Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Racine Marriott Hotel.
Three individuals: Gilmore Middle School Principal Kevin Brown, Walden III English Teacher Tom Rutkowski, and the Johnson Foundation's Dr. Carole Johnson were honored along with the Fathers Being Involved (F.B.I.) program at S.C. Johnson Elementary School.
"Today, perhaps more than ever before, it is not only important, but absolutely essential that we honor and uphold the value of teachers and of education," Ford stated. "This is exactly what the RAMAC Education Excellence Awards program has done for many years; showcasing the best and brightest in our community, honoring our teachers, administrators, volunteers and programs, highlighting their innovations and recognizing and celebrating their successes."
Administrator of the Year
Brown received the RAMAC honor for his efforts to improve students' achievement tests scores through the use of technology. He started Saturday morning study programs that have helped students focus on learning. Under his leadership, technology use by staff and students has increased, test scores have improved, and the school's atmosphere has changed for the better.
"Kevin Brown is inspiring," Ford said during his introduction.
Teacher of the Year
Rutkowski has been an exceptional English teacher for a quarter century. He is best known, as the school's Wikipedia listing attests, as founder of the Walden Green School Initiative. His projects, ranging from construction of a rain garden and installation of rooftop solar panels, to an extensive recycling program, give students hands-on lessons in sustainability. "Every school in this country needs a Tom Rutkowski," wrote one of his nominators.
Community Education Volunteer
Dr. Johnson was honored for her enormous influence on improving the management of schools, improving educational achievement, and developing plans to improve truancy and dropout rates. "Carole Johnson inspires the community," Chancellor Ford said. Through her work at the Johnson Foundation, Dr. Johnson has created work groups to help find solutions to Racine's education issues. She was instrumental in the creation of two charter schools, the 21st Century Preparatory School and The Real School.
Program of the Year
To mentor students and check on disruptive children, Johnson Elementary School teachers and administrators call on the F.B.I.?Fathers Being Involved, RAMAC's Program of the Year. The F.B.I. program places dads and other adult volunteers in the halls and classrooms to serve as role models and mentors. Principal Kim DeLao said Johnson School's environment has improved and discipline problems have been significantly reduced thanks to F.B.I.
"As a community, we believe in the value of our teachers, we support them, we want to help them, we want to inspire them, as they inspire our children," said Chancellor Ford. "William Arthur Ward once said, 'The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.' Tonight we?value and award those great teachers who inspire."
Prior to the start of the awards presentation, attendees received vocal inspiration and an example of inspired teaching from the Horlick High School Choir Ensemble under the direction of Ellen Christensen.
Staged by Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce and President Michael Kobylka, the RAMAC Education Excellence Awards were sponsored by Case New Holland and SC Johnson, and by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Carthage College, Gateway Technical College, Johnson Bank, Carpetland Flooring, Educators Credit Union, InSinkErator, Pioneer Products, O&H Danish Bakery, Racine Federated, Twin Disc, Ivanhoe Pub and Eatery, and Katt Construction.Shown in the photo, from left, are Kevin Brown, S.C. Johnson Elementary School Principal Kim DeLao who accepted for the Fathers Being Involved program, Tom Rutkowski, Dr. Carole Johnson, Debbie Ford, and, RAMAC President Michael Kobylka.