Details for Teachers of Excellence - April

APRIL 2019 Teachers Profile Leon Simon, Automotive technology Lowell High School, Lowell Profile Laura Andrews, supported learning classroom teacher grades 6 through 8 at Col. John Wheeler Middle School, Crown Point of excellence Recognizing Excellence in Teaching Through Dedication, Compassion & Knowledge LAKE COUNTY PORTER COUNTY Why Teaching is More Than a Day Job: “There are so many things that I love about teaching, and most of them revolve around the relationships that I develop with my students,” Jillian Michalak says. She finds the academic, social, and personal growth of her students throughout the school year astounding. In particular, she enjoys guiding her students to be more independent in problem solving and dealing with daily frustrations. “The best part of my job is when students are enthusiastic about learning and are proud of their accomplishments. Those are the moments that are most fulfilling as a teacher.” FavoriTe ParT oF Teaching: Leaving a lasting legacy by building up her students is the sweetest reward of teaching for Michalak, a graduate of Ball State University and a teacher for 13 years. Also encouraging is when her former students give her cards and letters filled with words of appreciation. “I love when I receive notes or cards from past students thanking me for being their teacher, especially when they share specific memories from our time together. It’s special to know that I have made a lasting impact in their lives. I pull these special letters out from time to time as a reminder of the positive impact I’ve made in so many young lives.” Why Teaching is More Than a Day Job: FavoriTe ParT oF Teaching: Why Teaching is More Than a Day Job: For Laura Andrews, teaching isn’t about what she teaches but rather who she teaches. “I value people. I see the worth in each student, and I’m motivated to help them be as independent and successful as possible. It’s hard not to have a positive outlook when I’m part of moments to celebrate. When they’ve overcome whatever obstacle was in their way, it’s hard not to find joy.” Andrews is also active with the Special Olympics as the head coach for the Lake County Flames and Col. Wheeler Lake County Bulldogs Track and Field. She also started an inclusive program called Paw Pals in which students with special needs and general education students work together on school and community projects. An avid photographer with a zest for life, Kelly Mundell uses her creativity and enthusiasm to enliven lessons for her students. “I love having the freedom to deliver lessons to my students in a way that will be memorable and enjoyable,” she says. “Teaching allows me to make learning a fun and positive experience. I can apply my creative side as well when developing activities to meet each student’s individual needs.” A graduate of Indiana University with a master’s degree from Chicago State University, Mundell has taught special education for grades kindergarten through 8 in the Life Skills classroom for 14 years. FavoriTe ParT oF Teaching: Nothing brightens Mundell’s day like seeing joy on her students’ faces. Daily moments and the dynamic that each student contributes to her classroom environment make her smile, she says. One of her favorite memories is how her dog, Ruby, an English mastiff and therapy dog, affects her students. “I began a program called, ‘Read to Ruby.’ Students light up when they read to her, and I can really see some anxiety melt away as the students’ confidence levels increase. They truly enjoy having her in the classroom.” Having the same students for three years gives Andrews an opportunity most teachers don’t have, because she gets to watch them mature as they achieve milestones. She loves seeing their excitement and pride when they write their name for the first time or when they tie their own shoes or zip their coats after diligent practice. “That’s when cupcakes are coming, because that’s a huge accomplishment!” The reward, she says, is seeing the affect she has had when she watches a former student in a social setting or a former student finds her in the stands when they’re playing basketball. “It’s a humbling situation, and one in which I find absolute joy when they dedicate the basket they just made to me.” Profile Why Teaching is More Than a Day Job: There is nothing boring about going to class when it involves cars. Leon Simon enjoys fueling his students’ enthusiasm for learning and providing a solid career foundation for many. He says: “I enjoy providing regular, working-class students with a path to a career in which they can make a good living. I love their personalities and youthful spirits. I share their passion for cars and motorsports, and I love providing a class for hands-on students to succeed and meet like-minded students.” Simon is a graduate of Vincennes University and Indiana State University who enjoys motorsports, classic cars, and electric vehicles. He has taught auto shop at Lowell for 12 years. Student success in Simon’s class comes in accomplishments from landing a first job to changing the oil in a vehicle for the first time. His students have gained confidence and earned rewards from winning the Student Tech Challenge at Universal Technical Institute and the Purdue Electric Vehicle Grand Prix, he says. “Ultimately, I love when students come back or I run into graduates who tell me about their good jobs, success, and how they’re providing a good living for themselves.” ® FavoriTe ParT oF Teaching: Jillian Michalak, First Grade, at Discovery Charter School, Porter Profile Kelly Mundell, Special education Boone Grove Middle School Boone Grove Exclusively Valparaiso • Merrillville • Chicago P assion • C ommitment • e xCellenCe K en a llen l aw . Com (877)G o w ith K en Kenneth J. Allen Law Group, LLC, 1109 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN, responsible for content.

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