Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Three Berthoud educators win TEF’s Educator of the Year awards

April 11, 2019 | Education
Courtesy photo – The 11th annual Thompson Education Foundation Educator of the Year award winners were recognized at a special breakfast April 3 to present the awards to Thompson School District staff. Pictured left to right are Eric Weedin, TEF president; Kim Akeley-Charron, TEF executive director; Margaret Skrobacz, TSD Staff Member of the Year; Jen Schwab, TSD Staff Member of the Year; Annamaire (Rataj) Pike, Elementary Teacher of the Year; Rick Bowles, Principal of the Year; Christine Marshall, Secondary Teacher of the Year; Michael Pintaric, TEF Educator of the Year; Marc Schaffer, superintendent, and Pam Howard, member of the Thompson School District Board of Education.

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Three Berthoud educators won nearly half of the awards presented April 3 through the Thompson Education Foundation.

The winners of the 11th annual Educator of the Year awards include Rick Bowles, principal at Ivy Stockwell Elementary School, Principal of the Year; Annamarie (Rataj) Pike, kindergarten teacher at Berthoud Elementary School, Elementary Educator of the Year; and Margaret Skrobacz, early childhood speech therapist, Staff Member of the Year.

“It’s a little bit of an anomaly because four schools competed with all the schools here (in Loveland),” said Kim Akeley-Charron, executive director of the Thompson Education Foundation, a nonprofit that supports educational opportunities in Thompson School District. “It shows there is great work being done in Berthoud schools.”

A community committee reviewed 82 nominations to decide on five award winners and an overall winner, who were presented with the awards during the Educator Appreciation Breakfast.

“That event celebrates all of our teachers and staffers,” Akeley-Charron said about the breakfast. “It’s our most feel-good event of the year. It’s an opportunity for the foundation, district and business community to just say, ‘Hey, you know that we support you. Great job.’”

The Educator of the Year awards include the categories of Principal of the Year, Elementary Teacher of the Year, Secondary Teacher of the Year, and Staff of the Year in the areas of classified, support services and APT, or dministrative/professional/technical. This year, Michael Pintaric, the Elementary Educator of the Year, was selected as the TEF Educator of the Year.

Each year, staff members, students, parents and community members nominate educators they believe exemplify excellence in education. The committee evaluates the nominations using a rubric, and those with the highest scores move forward.

“This year, many of them were nominated by students and parents. That speaks to the impact they have on students’ lives and the incredible work they are doing every day,” Akeley-Charron said. “There are amazing things that happen every day in our district. These nominations are a snapshot of that.”

The Educator of the Year sponsor, King Buick GMC, recognizes the award winners by providing the category winners with a 60-day lease and the Educator of the Year with a 24-month lease on a new vehicle.

“I appreciate that the Thompson Education Foundation not only provides valuable resources and experiences for our students, but they also recognize the great teachers and staff members that work so hard with our students every day,” said Bowles, an educator with Thompson School District for 20 years, including seven years as principal at Ivy Stockwell Elementary School. “Seeing so many Berthoud staff members winning this year is reflective of the amazing supportive culture in our Berthoud community.”

Bowles entered the education field after he coached football when he was still in high school and found he enjoyed working with students.

“I knew I wanted to be in education and wanted to be the difference maker in the lives of students,” Bowles said.

Pike, who teaches full-day kindergarten, has been with the district and Berthoud Elementary School for four years. She taught kindergarten for a total of nine years and pre-kindergarten for five years.

“I am so proud to represent the foundational hard work of primary-grade teachers and all working teacher-moms,” Pike said. “I am a new mom, and this was my first year in the two biggest roles of my life. So this award couldn’t have come at a better time. I think that this year’s high representation from Berthoud schools in the TEF awards is just a testament of the amazing support we enjoy from an involved community and a passionate parent group.”

Pike said she fell into teaching during college when she worked part-time at a preschool. “I realized that I absolutely loved children, everything they have to say and the beautiful way they view the world. I mean, how can you not fall in love when a child throws their arms around your legs and thanks you for taking them on an adventure today?” Pike said. “I want to help each child maximize their potential, fall in love with learning and the world around us, and be their safe place when they need one, now and always, not just in kindergarten.”

Skrobacz, a licensed speech pathologist, is a speech therapist for the district’s early childhood program at Berthoud Elementary School and the early childhood cottage on the Turner Middle School campus. She has been at the two locations for eight years and with the district for 15 years. 

“I entered the field because I am passionate about helping children increase their communication skills,” Skrobacz said. “Little did I know back in 1987 how much the children would teach me about communicating.”

The early childhood staff represents “the first faces of education in our district,” she added. “My teams and I work hard to help establish positive relationships with parents and students. This award is important because it helps all teachers and staff members within our district see the outstanding work done by our peers. When I see good things happen for others in their classrooms I try to look for more ways to have good things happen within my classrooms. Goodness feeds goodness.”

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