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MPS employees, retirees honored at end-of-year awards

Mustang Public Schools employees came together to celebrate teachers of the year, support employees of the year, many years of service, national certifications, rookie teacher of the year and retirees on Monday evening.
“Welcome to our 2016-17 service awards celebration. We have lots of things we want to do in a short amount of time,” Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel started out the evening. “For a lot of us, I think this is one of the highlights of our year when we get to recognize for about an hour a lot of the great things that are going on in our district.”
Besides Dr. McDaniel, Deputy Superintendent Charles Bradley and Assistant Superintendent Tracy Skinner helped announce teachers of the year and National Board Certified Teachers, speech/language pathologists and psychologist.
The teachers of the year were recognized first by Bradley. The teachers of the year include:
—Kishia Steiner for Mustang Education Center,
—Amy Leochner for Lakehoma Elementary,
—Cheryl Harrison for Mustang Centennial Elementary,
—Becky Armstrong for Mustang Creek Elementary,
—Tanya Bernhardt for Mustang Elementary,
—Marcy Calvert for Mustang Trails Elementary,
—Kerry Villanueva for Mustang Valley Elementary,
—Kari Brandon for Prairie View Elementary,
—Jessica Wilkes for Canyon Ridge Intermediate,
—David Lively for Horizon Intermediate,
—Jessica Creach for Mustang Middle School,
—Marilyn Bilbrey for Mustang North Middle School,
—Omar Jones for Mustang High School, and
—Chad Harper for Mustang High School and District Teacher of the Year.
Support Employees of the Year were also honored at the event, including MHS Custodian Supervisor Marcus Aleman, District Construction Foreman Lanny Newcomb, and Karla Petty, MNMS special education teacher assistant.
The support employees were chosen through nominations.
Bradley read what some had to say about the support employees as he was announcing them.
“Hardest worker ever” is what someone had to say of Aleman. “He is confident beyond compare and does everything with a smile and joy,” someone else had to say of him. “He deals with constant interruptions throughout the day but he is always calm and he is always helpful,” another person said.
When speaking of Newcomb, someone said “he goes above and beyond to help anyone with anything at any time.”
“Another comment said ‘he’s always Johnny on the spot,’ but we’ve actually renamed it to ‘Lanny on the spot,’” Bradley joked.
Bradley said the problem with going through all the comments given about Petty were to try to fit them into a few seconds to give the audience a sense of why she won the award.
One comment said she “deserves the recognition because of her continued support for special education. She goes the extra mile to make sure her students feel safe, loved and accepted.”
National Board Certified teachers include Maria Chavez, Tammy Damasiewicz, Sharolyn Davis, Jennifer Dean, Kyle Farnham, Cheryl Harrison, Diane Johnson, Nancy Matheson, Matt Moore, Jenny Prather, Shereen Rasor, Paula Sharp, Libby Smith and Kristin Whitmore.
National Board Certified speech/language pathologists include Carrie Rapp, Susan Gray, Elizabeth McGaha, Ambia Cail, Rebecca Reddish, Elizabeth Shay and Gina Garriott.
The National Board Certified psychologist is Stacy McKinney.
Administration and teachers were then recognized for their years of service for 10 to 35 years. Not all service award recipients were in attendance and not all are photographed, but to see photos of some of the service award recipients visit our Facebook page at
MHS teacher Brooke Todhunter was awarded the “Rookie Teacher of the Year” award.
“A few things that were said about Ms. [Todhunter] were not only does she have enthusiasm when it comes to teaching, but her teaching makes everybody enthused around her. She has a commitment of excellence, and she also, for a first-year teacher, seems to be a seasoned veteran who has mastered the craft,” Skinner said.
Twelve out of 19 retirees were present during the event. McDaniel referred to the retirees as “graduates” who are moving on to the next chapter in their lives.
The 19 retirees have spent a total of 473 years in education with 90 percent of that total spent in MPS.
Retirees just from Lakehoma Elementary put in 156 years with 98 percent spent in the district.
The 19 retirees include:
—Connie Kilmer with Transportation,
—Linda Jones with Child Nutrition,
—Kathryn Stevens with MNMS,
—Cynthia Jardine with MHS,
—Cindy Barton with Lakehoma,
—Lisa Floyd with MHS,
—Jana Hickman with MEC,
—Cathy Falkner with MHS,
—Cynde Morris with Prairie View,
—Sally Wilson with Canyon Ridge,
—Thelma Cozens with Child Nutrition,
—Karen Moon with Creek,
—Wayne Jones with Maintenance,
—Teresa Hutter with Lakehoma,
—Anne Daugherty with Lakehoma,
—Judy Bruce with Mustang Valley,
—Carmene Kroutil with Child Nutrition,
—Cheryl Burchett with Lakehoma, and
—Jenny Prather with Lakehoma.
The teachers were each given a bell to ring as part of the ceremonial ringing of the bells.
After each retiree’s name was called, Dr. McDaniel spoke about why MPS “rings the bells” at the time of retirement.
“The story goes, in the 19th century, give or take, in little one-room school houses all over the country, students would begin gathering together in the morning just as school was about to begin. They would play and talk and then their teacher would step out on the stoup of the school house and loudly ring the bell as a signal that class was about to begin. At the end of the day, the teacher would instruct the children to put up their books, grab their coats and she would again step back out onto the stoup and ring the bell. Students would run out the door and happily head home, knowing that tomorrow they would return to school and it would start over again,” McDaniel said. “For our 19 retirees who stand before us this afternoon, ringing the bell has a little different meaning. It may be a little bitter sweet. Today symbolically and on May 25 literally school will be out period.
“So when the bell rings today, we say to them ‘You’ve made a difference. You’re awesome. We’re going to miss you. We’re a little bit jealous. We wish you the best of luck.’”

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