Educators who make a difference

Student council member Dawson Frost, right, presents an award to middle school teacher Emily Alexander as other memebrs look on.

Student council member Dawson Frost, right, presents an award to middle school teacher Emily Alexander as other memebrs look on.

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Educators make a difference, and as a way to show their appreciation, the Churchill County High School Student Council and the Fallon Rotary Club recognized more than 60 teachers and support personnel at a dinner attended by Nevada’s superintendent of public instruction.

Student body President Garrett Kalt said the appreciation dinner was a cooperative effort between the school and Rotary Club to recognize individuals who make an impact on students. The idea to organize the dinner first occurred in November and came to fruition with Rotary’s help to sponsor the dinner.

“We are honored and proud to live in a community that supports a higher level of success,” Kalt said, adding it is the intent of student council and Fallon Rotary to make this dinner an annual event.

“When teachers are excited to teach, students are excited to learn,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Kalt said teachers and staff help shape every student’s life who steps into a school’s hallway.

Kalt also discussed the student council’s motto for this school year, “Go Beyond Your Abilities” and cited some accomplishments: The football team advanced to the state football game for the first time since the late 1970s; three wrestlers won state titles; the cheerleaders won first at state, and the dance team took second at the Gem State competition; cross country advance to state for the first time in 42 years; tennis players advanced to the state championships; and a Junior Naval ROTC student received an appointment to Annapolis.

Dale Erquiaga, a Fallon native who now serves as the state’s superintendent of public instruction, offered a few words of about the scope of this position.

“The real honor for me is I get to work with people like you,” he said.

Erquiaga said he is responsible for about 600,000 learners ranging from preschool to adult education. He said his office determines the list of standards that must be taught and learned by students; provides funding for district and charter schools; assesses student achievement; and supports children with special needs.

Erquiaga also addressed concerns expressed by those skeptical of Common Core, a federally mandated program that has established nationwide standards.

“Common Core standards were approved by the state board four years ago, and they have been taught in the schools for three years,” he said. “This is not something new.”

He said the curriculum was designed in the state, and teachers chose the textbooks and method of instruction.

“Our job is to back up in the trenches,” he told educators. “The real job is to ensure Nevada students are ready for success in the 21st century.”

He said fewer than 30 percent of Nevada graduates attend any post-secondary institution, but by 2020, he said the number must reach 60 percent to meet the Silver State’s needs in the workforce.

Former high school history teacher and motivational speaker Rochelle Whellams of Reno delivered an upbeat presentation on the rewards of teaching.

She asked if teachers entered the field because of vacations, prestige or money.

Then she looked toward her audience and paused.

“You are here because you love kids,” she said.

Throughout her presentation, Whellams gave examples of her teaching career and working with students, all trying to make a point that educators do make a difference.

Even when a teacher doesn’t expect it, she said a former student came up to her eight years later and said, “You were my favorite teacher.”

Whellams asked teachers and support staff to raise their hands if they are mentors or role models. She noticed that some were hesitant in raising their hands.

“Look around,” she said “Every single one of you are.”

Whellams said educators have the ability to change a student’s life.

After the presentations, student council members recognized educators and supporters of education with certificates. Fifteen educators, though, were selected by principals and members of the student council for outstanding service: Kevin Wickware, Laura Malkovich, Judy Rylander, Kim Ewart, Robbie Wickware, Emily Alexander, Teresa Gehman, Steve Johnson, Ann Bloomfield, Russ Frost, Cathy Williams-Miller, Teri Camacho, Amanda Lister, Myke Nelson and Lynn Strasdin.

Kalt also singled out student council adviser Terri Pearson and Fallon Rotary President Karla Kent for their support in making the evening possible.

The Fallon Rotary Club also thanked school board members Ron Evans, Rich Gent and Carmen Schank and school district administrators Kimi Melendy, Rob Freeman, Keith Boone, Gregg Malkovich and Shawn Purell for their support and attendance at the dinner.


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