Brad LeBlanc, Mike Cloutier, Tiffani Glew and Cheryl Netka expressed shock and humility as each was told before their peers that they are the 2011 “Best of the Best” in the Elk River Area School District.
The four were selected in the categories of Volunteer of the Year (LeBlanc), Staff of the Year (Cloutier), Elementary Teacher of the Year (Glew) and Secondary Teacher of the Year (Netka).
The four received the most votes of the 91 total nominations this year for each of the award categories. They were told of their awards separately in surprise announcements recently by Superintendent Dr. Mark Bezek. They will be formally recognized in August at the annual school district meeting.
LeBlanc is the Early Childhood and Family Education parent representative who helped craft that program’s mission statement. He has been a member of the ECFE Family Education Citizen Advisory Council for five years and on the leadership team the past four. LeBlanc has volunteered thousands of hours the past five years helping with, among others, the annual ECFE Garage Sale, Nature Classroom and Needs Assessment Survey.
Cloutier is a custodian at VandenBerge Middle School. He was instrumental in the creation of the school’s mission; his passion was so impressive that a national strategic plan facilitator said: “Mike gets it.” His nominator wrote that he “believes with his whole heart that his job as a custodian is to create an environment where students can learn and teachers can inspire and empower our diverse learners.”
Glew is a kindergarten teacher at Rogers Elementary School. Her nominator wrote that she “cares about a child as a whole” and provides them with a nurturing environment that helps children feel safe, comfortable, encouraged and accepted. The teacher always has a completed plan book, and when materials are not available, she creates them, including original poems and children’s books. She is currently working on educating children about her Native American heritage.
Netka teaches English at Ivan Sand Community School. She works daily with at-risk and diverse students. She initiated the beginning-of-the-year student rally, designed to inspire Ivan Sand students to do their best. She started the school’s first student leadership class and two years ago that program won a state mental health award, resulting in her and her students receiving a standing ovation from the state Legislature.