Eight individuals and one team of teachers have been recognized as the Neenah Joint School District’s Employees of the Year for the 2015-16 school year.
The group represents one individual from each of the District’s employment categories. They were selected from the 678 total employees of the Neenah Joint School District and were nominated by colleagues, parents and students.
Four teachers were selected, including Diane Luft from the elementary level, Shelley Kumbier from the middle school level, Kristina Stingle from the high school level and District Autism Specialist Sara Kokko from the special services area. High School Principal Brian Wunderlich was named the Administrator of the Year, while Shattuck Middle School Data Clerk Kathleen Wilke was selected as the Educational Assistant of the Year. District Human Resources Assistant and Substitute Coordinator Janet Linke is the Administrative Assistant of the Year and District Carpenter Dean Olkowski is the Operations/Maintenance Employee of the Year.
For the first time this year, a “Team of the Year” was selected. The honor was awarded to the Arete Academy at Neenah High School. The group of Emily Bennett, Gregg Goers, Lynn Heyn, Tara Meinke and Suzy Weisgerber are in their second year of an innovative project-based learning curriculum that combines all four subject areas and serves 110 freshman and sophomore students.
Luft is completing her 26th year at Spring Road Elementary. She has held a variety of teaching roles at the school and is currently teaching second grade. Luft has assumed many administrative duties in recent years and regularly assists staff members with their evaluation materials. She co-chairs the Spring Road Running Club and is active in school fundraising activities.
Kumbier is in her 26th year teaching eighth grade math in Neenah. She began her career shortly after college graduation and has rotated between Horace Mann and Shattuck Middle Schools. She has been a longtime coach for volleyball, basketball and track and field at the middle school level.
Stingle is in her 11th year as the high school orchestra teacher. She also serves as the music department chair and leads the Touch of Class orchestra that plays many school and community events. Stingle is the chair of the Wisconsin School Music Association State Honors Music Project that selects the state’s top students for a four-day summer camp and a performance at the state music conference in October.
Kokko serves as the District’s autism specialist, a role she began in 2011 after working as a speech/language pathologist at Hoover Elementary for six years. Kokko has overseen the implementation of an autism mini-grant that has brought high quality autism resources and speakers to Neenah in recent years. She also created the Autism Partnership for Learning and Life group that meets monthly.
Wunderlich is in his third year as principal at Neenah High School after spending three years as principal at Horace Mann Middle School. He began his career in Neenah in 1997 and taught eighth grade social studies for 13 years before moving into administration. Wunderlich has empowered students in leadership roles and implemented numerous innovative changes at the high school.
Wilke has been the Data Clerk at Shattuck Middle School for the past four years. She has unique skills in data mining and using Excel and Infinite Campus to become an invaluable resource to the Shattuck staff. Wilke began working in Neenah in 1997 as an Educational Assistant at the high school and moved to Shattuck later that year, serving in that role until 2012.
Linke is in her 19th year in the District and sixth year as a Human Resources Assistant and Substitute Coordinator. She served as an Educational Assistant at Hoover Elementary from 1997-2010, splitting her first seven years at Wilson Elementary. Linke coordinates daily employee absences and is challenged with filling those positions with substitutes.
Olkowski is in his third year as the District carpenter and is known as a “jack of all trades” within the operations/maintenance department. He was instrumental in the remodeling of the Board of Education room at the administration office and has completed jobs to assist staff and students throughout the District.
The Employees of the Year will be honored at a social at the Bridgewood Conference Center on Wed., May 11 from 3:45-5 p.m.