Educators recognized by state education organization

Monday, March 24, 2014 7:40:00 PM

Two educators with Stritch connections recently received Wisconsin Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (WACTE) awards that recognize their professional contributions to the field of education.

Nominated by Stritch faculty members, the award winners learned of their honors during surprise visits to their schools.


On March 13, associate dean of the School of Education Dr. Jennifer Fontanini, director of field experience and clinical Joan Wirth, and chair of Undergraduate Teacher Education Dr. Clavon Byrd attended a morning staff meeting at Madison Elementary School in Wauwatosa, Wis., to present principal Lori Lester with a Pre-Service Educator Mentor Award, which recognizes “an outstanding educator who has demonstrated a sustained pattern of mentoring pre-service educators for at least five years.” Lester earned a certificate from Stritch and her school often hosts teacher candidates for field experiences

“In our attempts to better support our teacher candidates in the field, Lori Lester and Madison Elementary have become one of our primary and most valued partnerships,” Byrd wrote in the award nomination.“Our teacher candidates enjoy the learning experiences they receive in the field from Lori and the corps of teachers. She has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to nurture our teacher candidates through a variety of issues and circumstances, ranging from curricular and classroom management support to the introduction of strategies to better support parents as partners in education.…Over the years, Lori has hired numerous Cardinal Stritch University graduates as teachers at Madison Elementary School.”


On March 21, Byrd and Wirth visited Milwaukee Scholars Charter School to present Angela Gray, ’11, with an Early Educator Award during a luncheon at her school’s professional development workday. Her award recognizes outstanding educators within the first three years of their professional career. A fourth-grade teacher at the school, Gray earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Stritch.

“Ms. Smith (Angela’s principal) identified Angela as a dedicated teacher who is earning results with her students,” wrote Byrd in Gray’s nomination. “Ms. Smith cited recent end-of-the-year standardized test data that revealed that Angela’s students improved by 200% in mathematics from the beginning of the school year. This is an indication that the students in her class gained the equivalent of two school years in mathematics. A feat like this can only be achieved through highly effective teaching practices.”

The nomination further mentioned Gray’s efforts to build community and trust with her students in the classroom, and her willingness to serve as coach for the girls’ basketball team and as a mentor for new teachers at her school.

Lester and Gray will join other WACTE award winners from around the state at a recognition ceremony this Sunday during the organization’s annual conference.