Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards

Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards
Posted on 11/28/2017

As part of American Education Week the Wausau School District hosts the Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation each year. This year the Wausau School District was honored to recognize the following individuals:

Rosalie Doering was recognized as an active, 4-year member of Grant Elementary's PTO ​​at the District's annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation.​ ​Rosalie ​has been instrumental in getting updated technology into the classrooms, putting more books into students’ hands​,​ and creating fun and exciting family events for over four years. ​She​ volunteers her time in classrooms reading with students and help​s​ on field trips. She's been the Title I Parent Representative ​at school​ and has filled bags for Blessings in a Backpack weekly for the last three years. She is an asset to the Grant Elementary community as well as the Wausau School District and always​ strives​ to enrich ​the experiences of ​students and their families​.​​ Rosalie ​exemplifies a Friend of Education! She ​was nominated by Jennifer Gabriel, Enrichment Coordinator at Grant Elementary School.

Phyllis Henry was posthumously nominated by Polly LaMontagne, Library Media Specialist at Wausau Area Montessori Charter School and Franklin Elementary School. Phyllis earned a strong reputation as an irreplaceable volunteer in the school's library. She worked several days a week and showed up dependably as if it were a paid position. Phyllis brought 53 years of library experience benefiting the students and teachers. Students loved her and showed her great respect. She had high expectations for the students and they always rose to the challenge. Phyllis was bright, witty, and impeccably dressed. Phyllis was a special lady and the time she willingly shared benefited many. She will be greatly missed.

Bruce Iattoni was recognized as a 4-year volunteer speaker in the Personal Finance Management class at Wausau West High School. Bruce has educated students about the importance of investing early in their retirement and does an outstanding job informing them at a level they can all understand. He dedicates his time to speak in the fall AND spring classes. In addition, he welcomes the Accounting IV students to his office to complete practicum assignments. He gives students real-life financial adviser experience. Students give Bruce a grade of A+ for this opportunity. Bruce is truly a Friend of Education! He was nominated by Dawn Jameson, West High Business Education Teacher.

Sherri Messerschmidt has volunteers at Thomas Jefferson Elementary in the 2nd grade. She helps the teachers with anything they need and, most importantly, reads individually with all students. Sherri is a retired music teacher having taught in Iowa, Wausau, and Merrill. In addition to volunteering, she also substitutes in the classroom when needed. The students and teachers of Thomas Jefferson find her to be indispensable. She has the true heart of a Friend of Education and was recognized at the District's annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. Sherri was nominated by Meaghan Lauer, Enrichment Coordinator at Thomas Jefferson.

As an involved parent, Margaret P’ng saw children come to school hungry. She could see many of our students relied upon the school lunch program for nourishment and had minimal food over the weekend. In 2012, Margaret looked to the community to support her start of an organization known today as Blessings in a Backpack. Through Margaret’s vision and years of effort, the program now impacts six schools across the District and many pantries within our schools. The partnership ensures that 450 students receive a backpack filled with food for the weekend. She continues to work tirelessly to build the funding to purchase food in an effort to add more schools and support the growing need of hungry children. Margaret’s compassion and commitment for the students of the Wausau School District were recognized at the District's annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. Margaret was nominated by Michelle Mertes, Teacher at Grant Elementary​,​ and ​Dr. ​Jeff Lindell, Director of Pupil Services.

Amy Reif has planned, coordinated, staffed, and managed Riverview Elementary School’s bi-annual book fair for the past 13 years. Through her volunteer efforts, Amy has helped hundreds of students purchase age appropriate reading material at a very affordable price. In addition, her efforts have raised thousands of dollars used to purchase additional reading materials for the school's library. Students and staff are thankful for Amy’s many years of service and dedication. Amy was recognized for her volunteer efforts at the District's annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. She was nominated by Andy Place, Principal at Riverview Elementary School.

Jason and Jessica Samz have been instrumental in the Girls Basketball Program at Wausau West High School for more than a decade. Jason and Jessica are tireless volunteers in the concession stands at youth tournaments, and Jason has been a coach of various teams for more than 10 years in our youth program. The Samz’s dedication is unmatched and the Girls Basketball Program is indebted to them for all their efforts. Jason and Jessica were nominated by Patrick Galligan, Activities/Athletic Director at Wausau West High, for recognition at the District's annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. The Samz's were unable to attend the event, and Patrick Galligan accepted the award on their behalf.

Patrick Thompson is not your ordinary crossing guard. He has been volunteering at Grant Elementary, outside his crossing guard duties, for three years. The first year he started on Grant Elementary’s corner, treats would trickle into the teachers’ lounge from Mr. Pat. By the end of the year, he attended his first PTO meeting. The following year, Patrick started to attend monthly PTO meetings and signed up to volunteer for the school book fair. Now Mr. Pat is a regular PTO member and volunteers his time with book fairs, winter dances, and staff appreciation meals… along with being Grant School’s favorite crossing guard! Patrick was recognized for his enthusiastic volunteerism at the District's annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. He was nominated by Jennifer Gabriel, Enrichment Coordinator at Grant School.

Lynn Woehlert volunteers her time and talent with Horace Mann Middle School’s Scholastic Book Fair. Now entering her third year, she is always willing to help set up the fall and spring book fairs and can be counted on to volunteer in her free time. Lynn is always a positive, concerned friend and parent of the school. Her dedication has not gone unnoticed as she was recognized at the District's annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation.  Thank you, Lynn, for your dedication and willingness to serve our school and students! Lynn was nominated by Sue Engel, IMC Director at Horace Mann Middle School.

Jamie Bootz has helped run the Horace Mann Middle School Scholastic Book Fair for the past seven years. Her calm demeanor, warm smile, and laid back personality have been a positive influence on our students. She is reliable, dependable, and willing to expend her time and talents to make sure that our students are well served. Thank you, Jamie, for your unceasing dedication to volunteering. You are truly a Friend of Education! Jamie was nominated by Sue Engel, IMC Director at Horace Mann Middle School.

Last year when Jim Nick learned the scope of homelessness across the District, it fueled his desire to help. Jim contacted the American Family Insurance Foundation and secured a multi-thousand dollar donation to the John Waldron Fund of the Wausau School Foundation to assist District students in need. He also secured 250 new Jansport backpacks through American Family. He worked with Merrill’s Weinbrenner Shoe Company for a donation of over 100 new pairs of winter hikers for students at East and West high schools. Jim called on his business and civic group friends to donate…and donate they did! Free cases of bottled water, cases of soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, and feminine hygiene products were dropped off at our schools. Snow pants, mittens, and winter coats for elementary students were donated. The donations were so numerous, a drop off and pick up point was established at the Wausau School District Maintenance and Operations Building. Jim also raised over $15,000 to be used to meet the needs of homeless students and students living in poverty. Thanks to his focused efforts, dedication, amazing leadership skills, ability to create community synergy, and sincere compassion for homeless kids – countless students received clothes to wear, supplies to stay clean, boots and coats to stay warm, and food to eat. Jim was recognized for his efforts to help students in need at the District's annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. He was nominated by Dr. Brad Peck, Principal at Wausau East High School.

The Maine Fire Department received a Special Service Award at the annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. For the past five years, Chief Joe Bozinski and the Maine firefighters have provided ongoing support to our Maine Elementary students and staff in a variety of ways. Most notable is the Fire Up for Reading Campaign. Students who log their reading minutes have their names put into a drawing. One student gets to be picked up from home in a fire truck, transported to the station, have a firefighter’s breakfast, try on fire gear, and receives an award and prizes for their reading efforts. The student is then brought to school in a fire truck and the firefighters escort them to their classroom. The second name drawn has lunch at a special table with the firefighters at school and receives a bag of rewards for their reading efforts. The firefighters then go to the playground and play games with the children. The Maine Fire Department also teaches students about fire safety and advises on fire exits, tornado shelters, and emergency evacuations. They are a volunteer fire department and need to take time off from their regular jobs to provide these opportunities and services. The Maine Fire Department was nominated for this award by Marie Northup, Principal at Maine Elementary School, who said the department is a strong friend to our school community and we are most appreciative of their efforts.

Trig's received a Special Service Award at the annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. For over six years, employees of Trig’s have been grocery shopping weekly for the eight culinary classes taught each semester at Wausau West High School. Lora Hellberg has been an instrumental part of organizing and keeping it running smoothly during this entire time. She always makes sure the shopping is done correctly and it continues to be a success. Whenever there are questions or concerns from either party, she’s on top of it. Because of the help of Trig’s and Lora’s commitment, we save several hours each week as teachers that we are able to spend on curriculum and classroom organization. We are VERY thankful for Trig’s and Lora! Trig’s, specifically Lora Hellberg, was nominated for this award by West High teachers Trisha Sirny, Cindy Swope, and Carry Bellanti. Accepting the award on behalf of Trig’s is Wausau West Principal Jeb Steckbauer.

Peg Bestul received an Encore Award at the annual Friends of Education Breakfast and Awards Presentation. Peg retired from the District five years ago and, since then, she’s been positively volunteering at John Marshall Elementary School in the 4th and 5th grade classrooms. She works with students who’ve been absent to catch up, reads with and to students, and completes numerous projects for teachers. Peg goes on field trips to help students who need extra assistance. She also makes hot chocolate for our Safety Patrol students on frigid winter mornings. The students really like Mrs. Bestul and are disappointed if she’s unable to make it on her normal volunteer day. Peg is as dependable as they come, no matter the weather and is there if called with a last minute S.O.S. Because of Peg, our building is a stronger place and our workload is lighter. Thank you for everything, Peg! Peg was nominated for this award by John Marshall teacher Polly Hirn.