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September 27, 2019

17 educators honored at 17th annual Hamilton Celebrates Education dinner


A total of 17 educators will be recognized when the annual Harry T. Wilks “Hamilton Celebrates Education” event is celebrated for the 17th year on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Hamilton.

“We’re very pleased to recognize so many outstanding educators once again this year,” said Katie Braswell, vice president of the Hamilton Community Foundation. “Carrying on the tradition of the late Mr. Wilks and his tremendous generosity to the community and to local education is something we’re proud to do.”

All 17 educators being honored will receive a $1,000 grant from the Hamilton Community Foundation for their use. Each school chose an Educator of Excellence to be recognized in 2019.

“When making their selection,” Braswell explained, “the schools were asked to consider the daily impact their educator had on students and the community, examples of innovation and going above and beyond the call of duty, and the educator’s overall leadership.”

Each educator will receive a piece of custom glass art made by InsideOut Studio and the $1,000 grant for use in their classroom or school.

The 2019 “Hamilton Celebrates Education” Educators of Excellence are:

  • Judy Armstrong, English teacher at Wilson Junior High
  • Melissa Biddinger, 5th grade teacher at St. Joseph Consolidated Elementary School
  • Kathleen Gibboney, 5th and 6th grade teacher at St. Peter in Chains School
  • Andrea Groh, Math teacher at the Hamilton Freshman School
  • Lori Harrison, 7th and 8th grade teacher at Garfield Junior High
  • Lynnette Jackson, 3rd grade teacher at Brookwood Elementary
  • Kaitlynn Kerley, 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teachers at Riverview Elementary
  • Christina Mapes, 1st grade teacher at Ridgeway Elementary
  • Melissa McElroy, Preschool teacher at St. Ann School
  • Taylor Provins, Literacy coach at Highland Elementary
  • Jackie Quispe, ESL teacher at Fairwood Elementary
  • Abby Scott, 3rd grade teacher at Bridgeport Elementary
  • Michelle St. Laurent, 3rd grade teacher at Crawford Woods Elementary
  • Michael Sunderhaus, Social Studies teacher at Hamilton High School
  • Bill Valerius, Director of Academic Support at Badin High School
  • Megan Vogel, 3rd and 4th grade math and science teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School
  • Theresa Young, Music teacher at Linden Elementary

The event will include student musical entertainment by students from Hamilton and Badin high schools.

“This is a great way to continue the legacy of Harry T. Wilks,” Braswell said. “His support of teacher recognition and program grants demonstrated his lifelong belief in the value of education and the opportunity to celebrate success in the schools.”

Harry T. Wilks, a local attorney and benefactor, passed away in March 2014 at the age of 89. A 1943 graduate of Hamilton High School, Mr. Wilks was a longtime donor and supporter of charitable causes in the community. Having a lifelong belief in the importance of education, Mr. Wilks established a fund at the Foundation to provide program grants and honor dedicated educators. A tireless supporter of the arts, Mr. Wilks brought international recognition to the community by establishing Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park.

The Hamilton Community Foundation is a public charity committed to improving the quality of life for the Greater Hamilton community and its residents. Founded in 1951 with one $5,000 fund, the Foundation now manages more than 700 charitable funds.

Contact: Dirk Q. Allen, or (513) 869-4490

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