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Oak Harbor teachers receive top awards
At Oak Harbor High School’s senior assembly, students were not the only ones surprised with year-end recognition. Three of the top employee awards issued by the independent Excellence in Education Committee went to high school staff.
Pottery teacher Frank Jacques was called out of the bleachers in front of the student body to accept his award as Teacher of the Year. Jacques is an 18-year teacher who has been at OHHS since 2002.
In reading Jacques’ nomination form, Superintendent Rick Schulte said, “When you see the work that Frank Jacques’ students produce, you would wonder if there is something special in the water. His students leave his classes proud of their abilities and are even recognized in regional and national shows.”
This year, a record five students had artwork accepted into the National K-12 ceramics exhibition. Only 150 students nationwide were selected for this show, putting OHHS among the very best of the best.
Yet, the anonymous nominator had a different reason for the honor. That person wrote, “Frank has made a variety of disabled students welcome in his classes. He has been a key support for a challenging (special needs) student and he enthusiastically embraces placement of profoundly disabled (Life Skills) students in his classes.”
Forty-four NJROTC cadets signed the nomination for Chief Bill Thiel to be Employee of the Year and when his name was announced, the crowd erupted with approval.
“It is no coincidence that since his arrival seven years ago, the Secretary of the Navy has recognized Oak Harbor High School NJROTC as a Distinguished Unit with Academic Honors each year,” Schulte told the audience, reading from the nomination.
“Through his deep personal commitment to the personal growth and development of all NJROTC students he also contributes directly to their many individual accomplishments,” the nominator wrote. “He has high expectations for all students and seems to instinctively know when they need his sympathetic support or a no-nonsense motivational session.”
Thiel also coordinated the Northwest Drill and Rifle Conference Championship, hosted by OHHS in April. This involved 27 schools, 750 competitors and more than 100 judges and volunteers.
Jay Turner was named Coach of the Year, after leading the Wildcat football team last fall to finish with an 8-2 record. In the spring, as head coach for the boys track and field team, he led the team to both the conference and district titles for the first time since 1978.
“Coach Turner works hard to make sure students have a rewarding experience when they turn out for football or track and field,” his nominator wrote. “He credits players for the teams’ successes and makes sure they receive recognition for their efforts when possible. He surrounds himself with assistant coaches that care about student athletes and are very knowledgeable in their respective areas.”
The Volunteer of the Year went to Cathy George, who has made a big difference to kids helping with the high school’s culinary arts team and as chairwoman for the Oak Harbor Educational Foundation’s Bud Skinner Breakfast for Education.
“It is Cathy’s leadership that has made this event so successful over the last several years,” according to her nominator. “Cathy has made it possible for many, many students to participate in ‘out of the box’ hands-on projects.”
George has been volunteering in these roles even though she no longer has any children in school.
“It’s about the kids to Cathy,” he nominator wrote. “It’s about their success and it’s about them having the chance to learn and grow. She is a wonderful example of how to give back to your community.”