A well-known quote by William Arthur Ward describes levels of teaching excellence, noting that a great teacher inspires students to achieve.
The Charles E. Lakin Outstanding Teacher Award was established 11 years ago to honor teachers within a 40-mile radius of the namesake’s hometown of Emerson for living up to Ward’s description.
Each year, teachers are selected to receive a $10,000 prize, with an additional $2,500 going to their school, in recognition of great work and inspiration in the classroom.
This year, Michelle Hendrickson, a first grade teacher at Marnie Simons Elementary, was one of four award winners, two of which were given at the elementary level.
Dean Adkins of KMA Radio in Shenandoah was on hand recently for a special assembly at Marnie Simons in Hamburg to surprise Hendrickson.
Dr. Mike Wells had nominated Hendrickson for an award and had told her, but Hendrickson soon forgot about it. She was focused on teaching day-to-day.
Even on the day of the assembly, Hendrickson had no clue what was about to transpire.
Adkins welcomed students, teachers, administrators and visitors by giving a brief description of the award and noting that the late Lakin and his wife thought of the teaching profession, not as a career, but as a calling and that both were appreciative of area teachers and their efforts to encourage and motivate students along their educational journey.
Jennifer Green from the Lakin Foundation then took the microphone to announce that Hendrickson had been selected to receive the honor.
Hendrickson was stunned and rendered nearly speechless from the surprise of the moment.
On hand to celebrate with Michelle were her mother and father as well as her mother-in-law and father-in-law, her daughter Jaycee and her husband, Troy.
Michelle then visited with Adkins about what she enjoyed about teaching and the great joy she takes away from the opportunity to influence the lives of her students. She also spoke about the great support that the teachers receive from the school administration in doing their jobs.
Here’s a little bit more information about Michelle. She grew up in Omaha, graduated from Millard South High School and then earned a degree from Peru State College.
After her marriage to Troy, Michelle said the couple decided to move to Troy’s hometown, where she took the teaching job she has held for going on 24 years. Currently a first grade instructor, Michelle has also taught other grades at Hamburg.
Through her schooling, Michelle said she knew what profession she wanted to pursue.
“I have always wanted to become a teacher since the third grade. I enjoy the small town atmosphere that Hamburg has to offer.”
One thing that’s unique about Hendrickson’s class is that it utilizes innovation in the form of ILC.
Hendrickson’s Interactive Learning Engagement Classroom is the only primary classroom across the country. Hendrickson has had this classroom for almost two years.