Every year, the TK Education Association presents this special award with nominations from teachers. Retired first-grade teacher Shelley Erb, whose endless energy and enthusiasm for teaching, is the inspiration for the award.
Mark Hagemann announced the awards at Monday’s 2022-23 staff kickoff event. “Those who have been around awhile, you know how special it is to be here at TK. A big part of that is the wonderful people we work with every day. They’re more than just colleagues but something more akin to friends and family,” said Hagemann.
Shelly Siekman nominated her middle school co-worker Mary Francisco for the award. “Mary is a dedicated hard-working teacher. She has literally been working two jobs over the past three years. Her professionalism and integrity are truly above and beyond anything I have ever experienced. She has a special place in the hearts of all her students.”
Francisco has been teaching sixth grade for 35 years and has served as the math department chair for several years. During her career, she has taught every subject at the sixth grade level including art and computer science.
“Mary’s a strong, passionate, supportive leader for us. She’s dependable, positive and motivated to help us improve. Mary is always volunteering to work at and help with many extra curricular activities. She puts her students first and will do anything for them and for our staff. She’s always thinking of others…She has one of the strongest work ethics at work and personal ethics as well, that I have ever seen. We are so lucky to have Mary as part of our TK family,” said Siekman.
Francisco said the award is greatly appreciated. “It’s humbling, very humbling. I do the things I do because that’s just me. To be awarded and to be recognized for this is a good heart-warming feeling,” said Francisco. “I appreciate it.”
Megan Wonders is also a recipient of this year’s award, nominated by Lee Elementary teacher Marnie Reynolds. Wonders serves as a Title 1 reading coach at Lee Elementary and has worked at all three elementary schools during her career at TK.
“Megan Wonders serves Lee in so many ways. She wears so many hats and those hats change from day to day. No one deserves this award more than her. The qualifications of this award epitomize Megan’s work at Lee,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds said part of Wonders’ job is to pour through data to help prepare reading intervention schedules for more than 20 teachers. “She trains staff, she provides materials and she’s always willing to meet with individual staff members about students they have questions about,” said Reynolds. “She helped develop and organize our summer tutoring program for students that qualified. She met with teachers, trained them on the materials that they were going to use, and provided them with everything they needed.”
Wonders has also helped fill staffing needs at Lee when necessary. She has worked in the lunchroom, out on the playground and even in classrooms.
“She is finding a way to make other staff members feel that they have everything they need and when thanked she always replies the same way, ‘I just do what I can.’ So many times and so many things on Megan’s to-do list go unnoticed. It’s time for Megan to get the recognition that she deserves.”
Wonders has worked at TK since 2008. “It means a lot coming from them (my peers). Everyone here could have and should have gotten this award, so it’s really a shared award. We’re just all a team here,” Wonders said.