Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty led the charge in naming
the 2016 recipients of the Lakota Educator of Excellence Award this
week. The highest staff honor, directed by community nominations,
belongs to: Todd Caulfield, sixth grade teacher at Cherokee Elementary;
Tracey Kornau, physical education teacher and varsity girls volleyball
coach at Lakota West High School; and Jeff Rouff, principal at
The Community Foundation’s award provides an
opportunity for the community to nominate educators in the Lakota
School District who demonstrate a high commitment to their students
and their community.
“Every year, I am overwhelmed by the
number and strength of nominations,” said Erin Clemons, president and
CEO for the Community Foundation. “The high quality of Lakota’s
educators is evident through the words of students, parents, fellow
staff and even community members who have witnessed or personally
benefited from their work.”
The selection committee consists of
both Foundation and Lakota staff reviewing the nomination letters and
deliberating as a group. The award includes a $2,000 grant for the
implementation of a special project or program at the recipient’s
school, made possible through the generosity of private donors.
year, two recipients are selected to represent grades PreK-6 and
7-12, respectively. This year, the selection committee was so
impressed by the portfolio of letters for Jeff Rouff that it actually
added a third award, specifically to recognize a deserving
administrator, without the attached monetary award.
recipient was honored within their school communities with a special
surprise recognition. “The ‘Educator of Excellence’ award is a
long-standing tradition at Lakota and continues to be the gold standard
for teaching excellence here in our community,” said Lakota
Superintendent Dr. Karen Mantia.
She added, “We wanted our
honorees to be surrounded by the students, parents and colleagues who
have been most impacted by their influence. The three events were
designed to be something very special – a moment we hope they’ll
remember for the remainder of their career and thereafter.”
Caulfield, that recognition included nominations from numerous current
and former students. Rocky Anzalone, class of 2020, cited Caulfield’s
ability to “challenge me every day. He didn’t just give us worksheets,
but used technology and small groups to make math more fun and exciting.
I remember looking forward to his class every day.”
his letters, Caulfield takes an unconventional approach to math
instruction, leading lessons from all parts of the room and encouraging
students to use all of the resources available to them – from technology
to pencils and paper, to dry erase boards, the smart board and active
“Todd knows his students. He listens, talks and watches.
He takes the time to sit with them to teach at any time of the day –
before or after school, during his plan time or lunch. He knows their
struggles and strengths. And somehow he can get our kids to ‘get it’,”
said fellow Cherokee teacher Monica Lidman.
Caulfield is advisor
to the school’s Student Council, helping students learn the importance
of leadership and community service. He also serves on Cherokee’s
Building Leadership Team, Data Team, Safety Team and, at the district
level, as a technology integrator and curriculum partner.
letters overwhelmingly noted her commitment to the school and community
beyond her classroom hours. Former student Jen Mathie Anderson stated,
“I will say, she is a remarkably effective teacher, has a dynamic
presence, and is creative in motivating her students to give their best.
What really sets Tracey apart, however, is her selfless vision to step
into hardship and bring light, hope and help into real life situations.”
Kornau, who has taught and coached at Lakota since the early
1990s, pioneered Lakota West’s annual Volley for the Cure event, which
has raised more than $95,000 for the local Susan G. Komen organization.
Many nominators referenced Kornau’s selflessness, compassion and support
of her players’ development as leaders who put others first.
to Joan and Tim Stoltz, whose daughter Victoria was coached by Kornau,
“A great coach teaches her players more than just a sport. She should be
a role model, a teacher of character and a mentor through life
problems. Coach Kornau led by example and challenged her players on and
off the court. She exemplifies courage, empathy, humility, compassion,
dedication and leadership.”
Rouff, five-year principal at
Hopewell Junior, started as a social studies teacher there and has even
coached the school’s seventh grade football and basketball teams.
According to parent Kathleen Sevilla Strack, “He wholeheartedly
understands how crucial the middle school years are and that there is
more to educating the young men and women at Hopewell Junior than just
academics. Jeff knows each and every child by name. He knows their
likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses and what makes each child tick.
He knows what is going on at home and is extremely aware of how that
impacts the child at school.”
Rouff’s efforts to establish
connections with his families and the surrounding community were
repeatedly noted. Creative community outreach projects that Rouff has
championed include a school community service group, Excellence in
Action, which provides access for students who may struggle finding a
niche organization. Also, under his direction, twice a week community
volunteers provide a study session for the school’s ELL (English
Language Learner) students.
Hopewell’s Assistant Principal John
Wise noted, “Jeff regularly takes time out of his school day and after
school time to sit down one-on-one with students to work on assignments,
check grades, fill out important paperwork, or just talk through their
problems. At any point throughout the day, you could find a student from
all walks of life hanging out in his office being provided with care
In addition to the 2016 Educator of Excellence recipients, the following Lakota staff members were nominated for the award:
Elementary Finalists (PreK-6)
• Jackie Bender – Union Elementary
• Heather Finn – Hopewell Elementary
• Jean Fox – VanGorden Elementary
• Kim Gaffney – Adena Elementary
• Julie Gunderson – Endeavor Elementary
• Danita Taylor – Cherokee Elementary
• Amy Smith – Endeavor Elementary
• Eunice Vogelsang – Liberty Early Childhood School
• Terrie Williamson – Endeavor Elementary
Secondary Finalists (7-12)
• Bethany Dunn – Lakota West High School
• Lisa Landers – Lakota East High School
• Rob Tanis – Lakota East High School
Elementary Principal Paulette Grady (at left) listens as Lakota
Superintendent Dr. Karen Mantia commends Todd Caulfield as an Educator
Lakota West volleyball players and their families helped to honor
Tracey Kornau (center, holding flowers) during the surprise recognition
Rouff (at left) receives the proclamation from Dave Bruno, chief of
staff for State Representative Margy Conditt, as Hopewell Junior's
choir members applaud in the background. The choir dedicated a song to Rouff, sharing their appreciation for their principal.