Weatherford Democrat

May 15, 2013

Clay named top teacher

Weatherford Democrat

— By Judy Sheridan

Vandagriff Elementary third grade teacher Catharine Clay was named “Teacher of the Year” during the Marva Collins Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony honoring Aledo ISD employees May 6 in the Aledo High School auditorium.

Clay, chosen from a pool of 28 nominees, received a $10,000 cash award from the Reilly Family Foundation, the event’s major sponsor. An interview committee from Reilly judges all applicants for the award.  

“My philosophy of education is to win my students over through their hearts, and then teach them like crazy,” Clay said in the event’s program. “This isn’t work, but time well spent in the building of relationships with students and their parents. I truly receive more than I give.”

Four other nominees, as well as school support personnel, received awards.

Before the ceremony, Superintendent Dan Manning, retiring this year, announced a $100,000 donation from the Walsh Family Foundation, with $50,000 to create a new Dan Manning Endowment Fund and $50,000 to add to the existing Don R. Daniel Endowment Fund.

“We acknowledge this gift with gratitude,” Manning told Malcolm Louden of Walsh Ranch, seated in the audience. “We believe teachers are the most important and influential people in the whole world.”

The awards followed an inspirational program where all the nominees profiled their roles as educators. The AHS Jazz Ensemble 1, directed by Jake Albin, kept the atmosphere bright and upbeat, while Aledo choirs, directed by Karen Paul, offered opportunities for reflection.   

The $2,500 Faulk Company Award for “Secondary Teacher” went to Aledo High School Department Chair and AP statistics teacher Mary McLellan. It was presented by Dean Faulk.

McClellan reflected, with humor, that the lingo she picks up from her students helps her communicate with her sons about Twitter and frockets. “Where else do you get paid and have this kind of education,” she joked.

The $2,500 Hardick Family Award — “Intermediate Teacher” went to McAnally Intermediate sixth grade language arts/ESL teacher Dave Marcath.

“This nominee has a big heart,” Jim Hardick, the presenter, said of Marcath. “He cares a lot about his job.”

Susan Stirewalt, a Coder Elementary dyslexia teacher, received the $2,500 First Financial Bank Award — “Elementary Teacher” from presenter Mike Carter.

“I’m receiving this, but I’m representing all of the teachers and administrators who have encouraged me to move forward,” she said.

The $2,500 F. Howard & Mary D. Walsh Award — Beginning Teacher” went to Aledo High School technology applications teacher Lisa Abbett, who said teaching, her second career, is her passion.

“This is a profession that stays in your hearts,” she said. “I’ve never worked as hard as I have these past two years. It’s more demanding than the corporate world.”

Aledo Learning Center Principal Ron Miller won the $1,000 Don R. Daniel Principal of the Year Award, and Aledo Middle School Vice Principal Zachary Tarrant received the $1,000 Marsha Miholovich Professional Support Award, both funded by the Don R. Daniel Endowment.

The five support personnel awards were also $1,000 each.

Vince Matej received the VLK Architects Technology Award; Martha Ritter, the Buford-Thompson Company Transportation Award; Roddy McCurley, the Buford-Thompson Company Maintenance Award; Melissa Schneider, the Moritz/Hardick Child Nutrition Award; and Jenny Psota the Moritz/Hardick Paraprofessional Award.