Making A Difference: Annual event honors teachers and students

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:08 am on Thursday, May 23, 2013

Petra Mark of Lakeview Elementary School dances to “Accidentally in Love” during the Make a Difference awards Wednesday night. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling


GREENVILLE – The seventh annual Make a Difference Awards was held Wednesday to recognize those who have gone above and beyond in helping students with special needs.

About 100 people were in attendance at the Greenville High School Performing Arts Center to show their support for those who were nominated and honored for going beyond what the job description states.

The Parent Advisory Council (PAC) hosted the event and helps to provide parent trainings, encourage effective partnerships between families and schools, serve as a surrogate parent for a student in need, keep current on special education topics and much more.

New to the awards ceremony this year was a peer to peer award to showcase students who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in the life of a student with special needs.

“Just one person can make a world of difference,” stated Deb Koepke, PAC facilitator.

Kim Beardslee, PAC president, said the six awards that were presented are submitted by people wanting to nominate someone for one of the six categories – administrator, ancillary staff, general education teacher, special education teacher, support staff and peer to peer.

She said a committee takes the submissions and makes them anonymous. The submissions are then are presented to the PAC board for them to chose each award winner.


Administration award

Darby Weaver of Vestaburg Community Schools received the administration award.

According to nomination letters submitted for Weaver, she has taught for about 13 years, and has been one of the hardest working employees at the school.

“I have the best staff,” Weaver said. “I thank them for helping me to make a difference.”


Ancillary staff award

Lori Oxford of Greenville Public Schools received the ancillary staff award.

According to Oxford’s nomination letter, she has worked with the district for about four years and has been a team member for the district. She has shown support for those who have children with special needs along with the ability to build relationships with those students.

“This is for the kids,” Oxford said. “The kids are my heroes and I am inspired by them.”


General education teacher

Susan Maybank of Lakeview Community Schools received the general education teacher award.

A story was told in Maybank’s nomination letter of how she developed a garden at the school with the students in her class, giving them each a task to make sure the garden was maintained.

She has also been known to put forth extra effort to make sure students succeed.

“This is quite an honor,” Maybank said. “It’s all about the kids.”


Special education teacher

Roger Champion of Montabella Community Schools received the special education teacher award.

In his nomination letter, Champion was described as an excellent resource for parents who had children with special needs, and this was his third year being nominated.

“A friend told me to never give up and I never forgot that,” Champion said, stating that has helped him to make a difference.


Support staff

Heather Grice of Greenville Public Schools received the support staff award.

According to Grice’s nomination letter, she has taken on more duties then where ever asked of her. She is a person who offers hugs, words and/or a break when necessary.

“Thank you for the letter, and for letting me be a part of your lives,” Grice said.


Peer to peer

Haven Miller of Greenville Public Schools received the support staff award.

In the nomination letter, it stated Miller has been in the role for four years and has never asked for a break or gave up. Miller was described as a role model for students with autism, is not afraid to speak up and sees the positive in everything.

“I am honored,” Miller said. “I enjoy working with kids with autism and special needs.”


Make A Difference nominations


Kevin McAlvery of Fellowship Baptist, Darby Weaver of Vestaburg Community Schools (VCS), Amy Meinhart of Central Montcalm Public Schools (CMPS) and Cindi Geiger of the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District (MAISD).


Ancillary staff

Lori Oxford on Greenville Public Schools (GPS), Joanne Gordon-Anderson of the MAISD, Paula Dwyer of the MAISD, Miranda Holmberg of the MAISD, Esther Combs of the MAISD and Tamera Villet of the MAISD.


General education teacher

Michelle Rockafellow of CMPS, Rachel VanDyke of Tri County Area Schools, Carmen Anderson of Lakeview Community Schools (LCS), Mary Overbeck of Tri County Area Schools, Teresa Nord of GPS and Susan Maybank of LCS.


Special education teacher

Brad Hansen of CMPS, Tammy Deacons of CMPS, Diane Harris-Basom of the MAISD, Nancy Berg of GPS, Nancy Jerry of GPS, Diane Chapin of CMPS, Kathy Frank of GPS, Chris Bayne of LCS, Kathy Helms of the MAISD, Brenda Buck of the MAISD, Allison Bradley of GPS, Kellie Vangessel of GPS, Pamela Boomer of GPS, Candice Oswald of the MAISD, Roger Champion of Montabella Community Schools and Melissa Atwood of the MAISD.


Support staff

Kimberly Ostrander-Hansen of the MAISD, Sue Simon of the MAISD, Angie Hatfield of the MAISD, Heather Grice of GPS, Sandy Keeler of the MAISD and Aimy Germain of the MAISD.


Peer to peer

Frank Johnston of the MAISD, Alec Fowler of GPS, MacKenzie Miller of GPS, McKenzie Stephens of GPS, Vincent Frank of GPS, Alex Campbell of GPS, Lauren Sandtveit of GPS, Ann Mulcahy of GPS, Abby Mulcahy of GPS, Kody Mulcahy of GPS, June Patmore of GPS, Izaak Saunders of GPS and Haven Miller of GPS.

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