Heartland Hero, Featured Teacher awards also bestowed
The Farmington Board of Education (BOE) heard two student-led presentations and watched as awards for Heartland Hero and Feature Teacher were presented during their Oct. 17 meeting held at Truman Learning Center Auditorium.
After the recitation of the pledge of allegiance and a moment of silence, the board approved the agenda, along with minutes from board meetings held Sept. 19, Sept. 26, and Oct. 2.
The Student Voices portion of the meeting featured brief presentations from two high school students in the ‘Grow Your Own Program’ who aspire to pursue teaching careers, Cameron Roberts and Baden Klug.
Farmington High School Principal Dr. Jamie LaMonds presented the monthly Heartland Hero award to Whitney Shumway. Shumway is a social worker employed by Serenity HospiceCare in Park Hills, a not-for-profit hospice service.
“Miss Whitney works hard to put focus on mental health and behavioral wellness,” LaMonds said. “She is an experienced prevention consultant specializing in adult learning, hospice volunteering, leadership, and advocacy efforts for suicide prevention. She has a passion for mental health awareness. She’s been instrumental in planning and supporting the event ‘Out of the Darkness,’ which supports those affected by suicide and raises much-needed awareness and funding. It sends a strong message that suicide is preventable and that no one is alone.
“She’s worked with our elementary counselors and other social workers in providing specialized training. Whitney lives by the belief, ‘Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, you do better.’ Whitney recently has worked with our central office administration on creating a program whereby students will become trained advocates for suicide awareness and prevention. We are excited to begin an endeavor of hope of making connections at high levels and making a difference at the legislative level. Whitney is full of energy, positivity, helpfulness, innovation, and brings a wealth of knowledge to the table when discussing the needs of our students’ mental and behavioral health.”
The Featured Teacher award was presented to high school English Language Arts (ELA) teacher Amy Martin.
“Miss Amy joined our Farmington High School Family in 2006, LaMonds said. “She was looking for ways to make connections — not only with students but with her peers. Being a team player and building camaraderie is important to her. Her positive attitude is contagious, and one of my favorite things about her is that she still has that fresh, bright-eyed, smiling face that she came to us with in 2006. You do not pass her in the hallway without a bright smile and a hello. Amy is a problem-solver and a deep-thinker; she will work tirelessly to find solutions to problems for her students and her peers. This commitment is what led her peers to nominate her, and they had this to say about her. ‘Amy hits every mark for Teacher of Every Year. She is known in the high school English department as our department mom because she mentors several of us and is always a person you can go to for advice or guidance, whether that be on assisting students, engaging students, looking for new instructional strategies, or better curriculum understanding. She is the shoulder to lean on when you are struggling to make it through the day.’
“Students frequently tell me how much they love Miss Amy. She is student-forward and capable of making changes not only for her kids but for everyone around her. Amy goes above and beyond, beginning each school morning early to ensure she is prepared, the seminar lab list is completed and sent out, and to tutor. Not only does she tutor most mornings, but she runs her academic lab in which she helps students from each of the English classes, whether she knows the students personally or not. I have seen the growth of one of the academic lab students with my own eyes, and she has changed in many ways, not just in her capabilities in English. I can tell that Amy has taught her several valuable skills, not only for my class but for life in general. I decided to speak to one of Amy’s students, and this is a young man who will tell you that ELA is not his ‘jam,’ but Miss Martin is one of his all-time favorite teachers. He hasn’t had success in ELA over the years and joined her academic lab last year and started showing academic improvement. When I asked him why Miss Martin was the one who changed his mindset, he said, ‘It is because she is so nice. It doesn’t matter when or where I see her, she always smiles and says ‘hi.'”
According to LaMonds’ recollection of her discussion with the student, he told her that Martin always helped him with his studies — even when she knew that he could have worked harder to accomplish the task himself.
Quoting the student, LaMonds said, “‘I never hesitate to admit to her when I don’t understand something because she sits and works with me and makes me understand. Having Miss Martin has helped me understand that maybe I should slow down and pay attention to what I’m learning because it always helps me later.’”
The student also admitted that he should have paid more attention while in middle school so that he would have been better prepared for his freshman year in high school.
LaMonds concluded her presentation, saying, “… Amy’s passion is unwavering even after 18 years. I can send her to professional development, and she will text me from the conference bubbling with ideas and stories of how she was nearing tears from being so inspired. Our students need that passion and inspiration now more than ever, and Amy is just the teacher to deliver it.”
Following the presentations, Board Secretary Amanda Buchanan gave the discipline report, and Amanda Sheets gave the student achievement report. Superintendent Dr. Kyle Gibbs and Coordinator of Business Services Valley Becker gave the financial report and the first quarter budget report. Gibbs also presented the substitute pay recommendation and overall district update.
Associate Superintendent and District Foster Liaison Dr. Ashley Krause presented 2023 policy updates that will begin a 30-day review and shared the school climate report evaluation.
Director of Special Services Gretchen Hill presented the results of the early childhood and special education program evaluation.
Director of Operations Josh Hoehn and Transportation Manager Stacy Williams provided the report on the initial route list for pupil transportation. Hoehn also presented the 2023-2024 district paper purchase proposal.
The meeting concluded with a motion to adjourn the public session and move to a closed session for personnel discussions and release of the approved personnel list.
The Farmington Board of Education meets monthly at 5 p.m. on the third Tuesday at Truman Auditorium. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 21.
Lisa Brotherton-Barnes is a staff writer with the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.