The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Education and Human Services will recognize the outstanding contributions of two area educators at the upcoming Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (WACTE) awards ceremony March 13.
Andrea Weber, special education teacher at Hortonville High School, is the WACTE recipient of the 2016 Early Career Educator Award.
The Early Career Educator Award is presented to an outstanding educator within the first three years of his/her professional career. The recipient is selected based on any combination of the following: positive impact individual has on schools or communities, innovation in designing learning experiences and advocacy for students.
Weber was nominated by the entire UW Oshkosh Special and Early Childhood Education Department who stated: “Andrea’s commitment to her students gives her students confidence and motivation, and it also raises the expectations placed upon themselves. This combination of factors has a positive impact on the school as the general education teachers will then have more confidence in, and higher expectations for, students with disabilities. Her caseload includes students with a wide variety of disabilities, including autism, LD and hearing and vision impairments.
“The belief she has in her students has already helped her break down barriers regarding technology and access to general education courses. Andrea will be using technology to fill gaps in instruction and piloting various technologies to improve data collection and learning outcomes. Her efforts will likely lead to widespread adoption of certain technologies across the Hortonville School District and will thus become another example of the positive impact she is having on her school.”
Weber has embraced her first year of teaching with passion, commitment and professionalism–and is already making a significant and positive difference for her students who see her as an advocate, instructor and role model.
Stephanie Polak was selected as the recipient of the 2016 Pre-Service Educator Mentor Award.
The Pre-Service Educator Mentor Award is presented to an outstanding educator who has demonstrated a sustained pattern of mentoring pre-service educators for at least five years. Attributes such as the ability to model professional responsibility, demonstrate evidentiary assessment and effective classroom management and the ability to nurture teacher candidates while developing their capacity to be leaders are considered.
Beyond completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UW Oshkosh, Polak continues to be an engaged learner attending professional conferences at which she has presented, which receive strong reviews. She engages with UW Oshkosh faculty to continuously improve her practice and further improve services for her students. She often comes into classrooms to share the innovative practices she has developed such as the peer-mentoring program between students with severe disabilities and high school athletes.
As stated in the nomination from the Special and Early Childhood Education Department: “Ms. Stephanie Polak is an outstanding educator who takes on the support of initial and advanced practicum students and/or teacher candidates almost every semester. She provides the students with a wonderful opportunity to learn more about their craft and to perfect their own styles of teaching. She is a strong mentor who has had a significant impact on our teacher candidates over many years. ”
Polak is respected as an exemplary professional educator who has devoted her life to improving the academic and personal lives of both special needs adolescents and university level teacher candidates.
WACTE is a professional organization comprised of Wisconsin institutions that prepare students for initial teacher licensure. WACTE is committed to the education of career teachers whose work in classrooms in Wisconsin, the nation and the world will result in robust student learning. To that end, the organization facilitates deep consideration of issues related to teacher effectiveness and student learning and collaborates with organizations and agencies to promote research-based standards and policies for professional educator development.