2015 Educators of the Year Honored

Posted on: April 29, 2015

Each Spring, the Milford Miami Township Chamber of Commerce presents the annual Dinner of Excellence. Last Wednesday, April 22, several Milford teachers, retirees, classified staff, and students were honored.

Congratulations to the following Milford teachers who were recognized as the district's 2015 Educators of the Year: Lisa Holt-Taylor, Boyd E. Smith; Denise Baum, McCormick; Jason Fitzhugh, Meadowview; Trena Panko, Milford High School; Brian Ruck, Milford Jr. High School; Jeannie Clough, Milford Preschool; Donna Roberts, Mulberry; Jessica Early, Pattison; and Jennifer O’Brien, Seipelt.

A summary of each teacher's contributions and accomplishments was presented by each building principal at the dinner. Here are some of the highlights from each presentation.

Milford Exempted Village School District 2015 Educators of the Year

Lisa Holt-Taylor-Boyd E. Smith Elementary

In her twelfth year at Boyd E. Smith, Mrs. Holt-Taylor served for three years as a school counselor, one year as a second grade teacher and is currently in her eighth year teaching third grade. Prior to entering the teaching profession, Mrs. Holt-Taylor worked as a pediatric nurse.

A visit to Mrs. Holt-Taylor’s science and social studies classroom features a buzz of student activity, conversations, and projects. With an emphasis on hands-on and engaging activities, students are immersed in a wide range of authentic assignments.

Mrs. Holt-Taylor’s professionalism, commitment to students, and staff leadership have made a tremendous impact at BES. We are fortunate to have her in service to our students and community.

Denise Baum-McCormick Elementary

Mrs. Denise Baum is an “unsung hero” at McCormick serving as the intervention specialist for McCormick’s Multiple Handicapped Unit. Mrs. Baum has long been committed to our students with significant and intense needs. She is an advocate and champion for her students in all areas of academics and life skills.

Her positive attitude is coupled with an astute ability to modify materials and instruction in ways that challenge each student at his or her level. She demonstrates a gift that enables her to reach students that others could not reach. In the face of these challenges, Mrs. Baum shines and her students shine along with her. It is an honor to work with someone who daily demonstrates the true essence of what it means to be a teacher.

Jason Fitzhugh-Meadowview Elementary

Before Mr. Jason Fitzhugh found his way to Milford Schools in 2009, he worked as a paralegal for ten years at the Kenton County A­ttorney’s Office. Anyone who has worked with Mr. Fitzhugh knows immediately why he is such a phenomenal educator, an instructional leader, and an active voice for education. His level of flexibility, collaboration, and love of education is visible and impressive. He promotes classroom discussions that provide a deeper, more insightful look into the curriculum. He regularly incorporates a technological component which allows his students to further their understanding of topics.

He is also a leader in education. He is often asked to participate in commi­ttees and leadership teams based on what he brings to the table as well as his positive outlook and energetic spirit.

Mr. Fitzhugh possesses a nurturing demeanor and teaching style that makes his students feel comfortable and challenged at the same time.  It is without doubt that he strives to increase the rigor of education in his classroom in order to prepare his students for future success. 

Trena Panko-Milford High School

Mrs. Trena Panko has been an Intervention Specialist at MHS for the past 12 years. During this time, she has had a tremendous impact on the students that she has worked with.

Several years ago, MHS had the opportunity to start a unit for students with Autism. She has worked tirelessly to learn about Autism and how best to teach autistic students.  She took the initiative to set up and implement many of the programs that we continue to use in the unit.

Mrs. Panko is extremely invested in the success of her students, both academically and socially. She has a well-earned reputation as a student-centered educator and we certainly continue to be thankful for her efforts on behalf of the students at Milford High School.

Brian Ruck-Milford Jr. High School

As the Jr. High Social Studies department chair and a member of the Building Leadership Team, Mr. Brian Ruck's desire to help people become the best is a priority. However, it is Mr. Ruck's leadership and willingness to improve student and teacher learning that stands above the rest. Mr. Ruck has been an asset for implementing curricular change building wide. His lessons are creative and forward thinking while challenging students’ depth of knowledge.

Mr. Ruck embodies all the attributes that Milford Junior High School and the district embraces in a leader, mentor, and educator. He has been an integral part of two district professional learning opportunities this school year: Instructional Coaches Cohort and Visible Learning.

There is no doubt that Mr. Ruck teaches World History well, but what is perhaps even more important is that he connects with students and staff members he works with on a daily basis. His desire to making positive strides that directly affect student learning is limitless.

Jeannie Clough-Milford Preschool

Aft­er nearly 32 years of speech therapy to the students of Milford, Mrs. Jeannie Clough still arrives at school every day excited to see students and staff, eager to share her expertise, encouraged to improve her practices, and open to learning new ideas all for the good of Milford children and families.

­While Jeannie has provided speech services to several different buildings throughout her time in Milford, Mrs. Clough has become a constant at the Milford Preschool for the last ten years reaching our youngest special education students.  

Jeannie Clough serves as the Speech Department Chair and mentors our new speech therapists through their rigorous three-year internship. She also provides consult to many of the local preschool programs and the Milford Head Start program to reach an even greater number of Milford students throughout the community.

Those who have been lucky enough to experience working with Mrs. Clough also appreciate her humble style. She is able to make each student, parent, and staff‑member feel so important as an individual.

Donna Roberts-Mulberry Elementary

Donna Roberts is one of Milford’s most amazing teachers. She truly loves the children at Mulberry and would do anything to help them succeed. She goes above and beyond every day to make an impact on every child at Mulberry Elementary, but has the biggest impact on our neediest of students.

Mrs. Roberts has been member of Milford Schools for 18 years and a member of Mulberry Elementary since its opening in 2003. During those years, she has served as an intervention specialist, teaching students who struggle in their learning. So many of her fellow teachers have benefit­ted from Mrs. Roberts’s willingness to jump in and help with a student who is struggling academically or emotionally.

Mrs. Roberts knows how to reach children, and understands what they need to work on and what type of encouragement to give. She also understands what needs to happen before a child can be able to learn. She is known for providing for the basic needs of children that many assume would be taken care of before a child walks through the doorways of a school. She has been known to wash a child’s clothes and clean up a student without a second thought. Mrs. Roberts treats all of these students with a loving heart and provides them with what they need to get through the day.

Jessica Early-Patt­ison Elementary

Before coming to Milford seven years ago, Mrs. Jessica Early was an elementary school counselor. After taking some time off to spend with her children, she was hired in Milford as an intervention specialist. She has been a dynamic member of Patt­ison's staff for seven years. In those seven years, she has become a valuable asset to our classroom teachers. Mrs. Early is a problem-solver and innovator constantly looking for ways to help her students succeed in the classroom.

Mrs. Early does not work for the recognition, but simply to inspire and bring out the best in her students. She is a team player who has an exceptional ability to work together for a common goal. While remaining current with instructional strategies and technologies, she reaches her struggling students with simple, yet profound instincts and empathy. Her strong interest in these areas makes being an exceptional teacher second nature.

Mrs. Early has also taken a leadership role in our anti-bullying campaign at Pa­ttison and other leadership teams. She has dedicated herself to building confidence in all children at Patt­ison, while creating an emotionally safe environment. She understands children and teachers. We have been blessed that she has shared her gifts with us at Pa­ttison.

Jennifer O’Brien-Seipelt Elementary

Over the last ­five years, Mrs. Jennifer O’Brien has become a vital part of our building and her positive attitude and dedication to the students and staff has contributed to the collaborative and caring climate that exists at Seipelt Elementary.

As an educational leader in our building and our district, Mrs. O’Brien has served on numerous committees. Her influence and impact in our building has defi­nitely contributed to the numerous state and national awards Seipelt has received recently.

She loves collaborating with teachers to problem solve, invites feedback throughout the process, and adjusts the plan for the individual needs of the student. Mrs. O’Brien is an advocate for ALL students. She seeks out creative ways to ensure all students at Seipelt have the necessary interventions to ensure their academic success. Her colleagues value her opinions, look for her advice, and welcome her professional knowledge and insights.

As the school psychologist, Mrs. O’Brien interacts with our students’ parents and families, often having to have some difficult conversations about their child. She has such a warm and welcoming personality that parents instantly are put at ease. She brings them into the educational team and makes sure they realize their contributions are important to the process.

Mrs. O’Brien recognizes the potential in every child at Seipelt. She is determined to make sure all students are able to access their gift of learning and knowledge, however long it may take or with whatever interventions are needed.