Lakota Announces 2018 Educators of Excellence

Lakota, Community Foundation Announce 2018 Educators of Excellence
Posted on 05/11/2018
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The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty, in partnership with Lakota Local Schools, are proud to announce the three recipients of the 2018 Lakota Educator of Excellence Awards. The 2018 honorees include:

  • Elementary (PreK-6) Winner: Eunice Vogelsang & Kristin Sellers

      First grade team teachers – Liberty Early Childhood School

  • Secondary (7-12) Winner: Jennifer Parrett
    Honors American History teacher – Lakota West Freshman School

  • Support Staff Winner: John McCutchen
    Head Custodian – Adena Elementary

The Lakota Educator of Excellence Award was established in 2007 to recognize educators in the Lakota School District who demonstrate consistency and high commitment to students. These individuals motivate, share ideas, inspire, support, create and go beyond to make a difference in the community. The grade level awards include a $1,000 grant for the implementation of a special project or program at the recipient’s school, made possible this year through sponsorship from Phelan Insurance.

“The Community Foundation and Lakota Schools have had a long-standing positive relationship, and the Educator of Excellence Award is an important piece of that,” said Erin Clemons, Foundation President and CEO. “We recognize how integral our educators are in creating a strong and vibrant community, and this is just one way we, as a Foundation, can support their efforts.”

A selection committee consisting of Community Foundation and Lakota staff reviewed the nomination letters and voted on the final recipients. Two winners are selected to represent grades PreK-6 and 7-12. The committee can also opt to recognize a deserving administrator or support staff member, without the attached monetary award.

“The ‘Educator of Excellence’ award is a great reminder that our community stands behind our educators,” said Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller. “With nearly 30 outstanding educators nominated for this year’s award, our winners should be especially proud that they stood out among their peers. We are very proud of Mrs. Sellers, Mrs. Vogelsang, Mrs. Parrett and Mr. McCutchen.”

Each recipient was honored within their school communities with a special surprise recognition, as well as at the Community Foundation’s 2nd Annual Leadership Through Philanthropy Event.

Miller added, “The committee’s selections were reinforced by the resounding excitement and agreement among each winner’s peers. It was an exciting few days delivering the news.”


Sellers and Vogelsang, the first teaching pair to win the traditionally singular award, were compared to peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper and macaroni and cheese in on nomination letter. “Separately, they are amazing teachers in their own right,” it read. “Together, they are the ‘Dynamic Duo.” The team was commended for their creativity in hands-on projects that promote higher level thinking and dedication to challenge every student through truly personalized teaching strategies. 


Parrett, who has made teaching a second career, has made a big impact in a short period of time. She was applauded for taking non-traditional approaches to help her students understand and relate to events in history. Her role as West Freshman’s “Champion for Change” is also evident through her teaching strategies. “She holds them up to high moral standards and encourages them to do their best every day,” her nomination letter stated.


McCutchen, who has served Adena for eight of his more than 25 years at Lakota, was likened to “the glue that holds (Adena) together” in his nomination letter. “John is a role model of patience, kindness, humor, professionalism and wisdom.” The nomination referenced his morning routine of greeting every student with a smile as well as his tradition of dressing up on holidays.
Click here to watch a video about McCutchen.

In addition to the 2018 Educator of Excellence recipients, the following Lakota staff members were nominated for the award:

Elementary Finalists (PreK-6)

Rita Bitzer - Adena

Sherry Federle – Liberty ECS

Kelly Hall – VanGorden

Dawn Higdon - Endeavor

Jennifer Holder - Woodland

Jenny Hutzelman - Cherokee

Erin Miller – Liberty ECS

Jeri Pendergest – Liberty ECS

Kim Reining - Wyandot

Chris Roth – Endeavor

Audrey Scarbriel – Woodland

Danita Taylor – Cherokee

Cassidy Traylor – Cherokee

Julie Veneman – Endeavor

Shana Welage - Woodland


Secondary Finalists (7 – 12)

Annemarie Clevidence – Lakota West

Julie Deak – Lakota East

Amy Elifrits – Lakota East

Dean Hume – Lakota East

Tracie Kleman – Lakota West


Administration / Support Staff Finalists

Andrea Blevins – Endeavor (Principal)

Julia Davis – Central Office (Curriculum & Instruction)

Greg Finke – Independence (Principal)

John Mattingly – Adena (Principal)

Carrie Montgomery – Liberty ECS (Principal)