2016-17 Teacher of the Year and Stanislaus County Finalist -Michelle Blaze
Mrs. Blaze is an innovative go-getting teacher whose true joy comes from teaching her middle school students. She brings her passion for teaching and creativity to her students by designing lessons that not only meet the standards, but engage students in real-life critical thinking situations. During election season, as part of her argument unit, students initiate propositions that matter to them, deliver speeches and write compositions which focus on using objective facts and persuasive techniques, and then vote on one another’s propositions. Propositions that have passed by students can actually be implemented! Students see a real purpose in their learning! Mrs. Blaze is also a dynamic teacher-leader inspiring her colleagues to positively impact student learning and to do what’s best for kids. One of her colleagues stated, “Mrs. Blaze is very nurturing. I have learned so much from her. She’s always willing to stay late, even on a Friday, to help colleagues.” As her principal, I appreciate Mrs. Blaze’s initiative to give all of our students opportunities to excel, whether it’s being the drama teacher, the yearbook coordinator, or the Academic Pentathlon team coach. Mrs. Blaze’s students love her. Students trust Mrs. Blaze and gravitate to her because of her compassionate demeanor and her interest in their lives, both inside and outside of school. She works continually to improve students’ self-esteem through positive encouragement and recognition of their achievements and communicates that every kid has the potential to be great. In an end-of-the-year essay, one student wrote, “Mrs. Blaze, you were always there for me when I needed it... You taught me to believe in myself and to project my voice. In your class, I learned not to doubt myself and you always told me I could do it even when I felt incapable…”
2015-16 Teachers of the Year- Stacy Hultgren and Ivy Patten
These two teachers are mirror images of each other in their dedication to their students and their learning styles within the classroom. They provide a collaborative year of teaching for all fifth grade students that prepares them for a successful journey into middle school.
2015-16 Classified Employee Making a Difference: Monica Ahlbrandt
Monica Albrandt is an extremely hard working, dedicated custodian who takes exceptional pride in our three-school campus, helping to keep the environment clean and safe. Her exemplary work as a custodian would alone be enough for her to be nominated for the honor of Hickman’s Employee Making a Difference, but Monica is so much more to us. When a request went out to staff to share their anecdotes about Monica, this administrator's inbox was deluged with stories about what she does to make our family of schools the special community it is. Below are but a few examples.
“Seeing that the storage and cataloging of the chemicals and other materials was inefficient, cumbersome, and ineffective, Monica took the initiative to seek out technology to assist the district. She now maintains logs and a labeling system that keeps everyone safe while decreasing the hours it takes to manage the system.”
“When Hickman Middle School needed a girl’s basketball or volleyball coach, Monica has stepped up. When the drama class needed props for a performance, she assisted students to build them. When a planter bench was built to honor volunteers, Monica made sure it was planted and appropriately cared for.”
“Monica helped me move into my new classroom and then stayed late to help me organize it. She is also an amazing artist who has created decorations and costumes for our classes. We have truly enjoyed games and books that she created and shared with us. She even protected me from a spider one day after school!”
“Monica’s motivation is very sincerely directed at ALL the students of Hickman.”
2014-15 Classified Employee Making a Difference: Emma Cornejo
Emma has worked at Hickman for 12 years during which time she has become an indispensable member of our team. From her primary job as instructional aide working with English Language Learners, to filling in for secretarial, to helping on the yard, Emma is always willing to lend a helping hand wherever she is needed. Beyond the duties outlined in her job, Emma serves as an unofficial ambassador to the families of our English learning students and their families. She is instrumental in the acclimation of students into Hickman Elementary School population, while helping families settle in to the community. When our families are challenged by their circumstances, Emma steps up. A few years ago when the house of one of our neediest families was destroyed by fire, Emma organized the school community to collect food, clothes, and money. She helped the family find a new home and later assisted the children in obtaining their US citizenship. Every year Emma organizes, prepares, and delivers holiday baskets for families that would otherwise have very little. Emma goes so far as to making sure that the pine trees, used during school performances, become Christmas trees to thankful families. During the rest of the year, Emma can be counted on to help with whatever tasks come her way. She juggles countless duties with grace and cheer. Emma is dedicated to her job and the students of Hickman. She goes above and beyond, and always seems to be searching for new and better ways to help all of the students. Amongst so many amazing classified employees at Hickman, Emma Cornejo stands out as an Employee Making a Difference.
2013-14 Teacher of the Year - Stacy Watson
Mrs. Watson’s students love her and they know she loves them. She invests in her students’ lives and is always concerned for their emotional, psychological, academic and physical well-being. Students trust Mrs. Watson and gravitate to her because of her compassionate demeanor. It always makes me smile when I hear Mrs. Watson refer to her students as “friends”-- “Come on, friends,” she says, “Do your best work!” She works continually to improve students’ self-esteem and self-control through positive encouragement, consistent discipline, and student self-reflective practices.
2013-14 Employee Making A Difference - Susan Hinkelman
Susan Hinkelman is the first face of Hickman Community Charter School District that people see when they enter the campus. She creates a warm and welcoming environment for anyone coming to our school and district. Susan is an amazing school secretary and has the ability to do at least four thousand things at one time. Besides being the principal’s confidante and support, , Susan is also everything to everyone on campus every day. To parents, Susan is the go-to person when it comes to finding out about all-things Hickman. To teachers, Susan is the person that helps them stay on track with the business ins and outs of working in a school. And to the students...Susan knows each and every Hickman student personally and talks to every student as an individual. Whether she is serving as the school nurse and giving a sick student “tummy crackers” that miraculously heal or talking to a student who is in trouble waiting to see the principal, she makes every child feel loved. In fact, most kids think Mrs. Hinkelman is the one in charge at Hickman Elementary School...and she is! Our school and district are blessed to have this compassionate and loving person on staff!
2012-13 Team of the Year
The Common Core Implementation team is our team of the year for 12-13. Thanks to their work HCCD is well on its way to mastering the new standards.
2012-13 Teacher of the Year
Trevor Friesen is an exemplary teacher. According to one of his colleagues, “Trevor is what every teacher should aspire to be. He challenges students to think about issues, not just acquire standards.” Another Hickman Middle School colleague stated that “Mr. Friesen has made it his mission to guide his students to be moral citizens as well as educated members of society.” Even though I have only known Mr. Friesen for six months, my visits to his classroom are always inspiring. In fact, after observing him teach a complete writing lesson for the first time, my initial reaction was that I myself would love to be a student in his class. Mr. Friesen’s obvious control of his classroom environment cultivates trust and respect between his students and him. His classes reflect the detailed planning that has obviously gone into the development of each lesson and he motivates his students to become more involved in the learning process. A reflective person by nature, Mr. Friesen consistently strives to improve his lesson delivery, student engagement, and student achievement; Mr. Friesen is truly one of the best English Language Arts teachers that I have ever observed.
Former students often come back to visit Mr. Friesen to thank him—for the rigorous classroom instruction, for the high behavioral and academic expectations, for the consistent and fair treatment of all students, and for his willingness to provide individual attention to help students succeed. One former student wrote, “Mr. Friesen changed the way I felt about writing. I am now a communications major in college…I truly believe that I would not be…[the] successful writer [that I am today] without the foundation and confidence that Mr. Friesen gave me [in middle school].”
Mr. Friesen is a role model for students and teachers. He is an educator who truly wants every child to succeed. By using a variety of approaches in his lesson presentations, Mr. Friesen’s students seem to thrive in such an environment. He always exhibits a calm demeanor when dealing with parents, community members, colleagues and students and is not governed by emotions. Another one of Trevor’s peers declared that “Trevor models professionalism and kindness in his interactions with all members of Hickman's educational community; this includes students, parents, and his peers on staff.” It is my opinion that his students should consider themselves blessed to have him for a teacher.
2012-13 Classified Employee Making a Difference
Hickman Community Charter District’s choice for the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s Employees Making a Difference Award is Ms. Hallie Choate. Ms. Choate has been a Resource Instructional Aide for the HCCD for 17 years. While care for and work with resource students in both our middle school and elementary school would be enough in itself, Hickman Hallie as she is known here, is involved in almost every area of our schools and community.
Ms. Choate is about the whole child with passion for keeping our students healthy and fit. She was instrumental in our district winning a state grant for that provided HCCD with funds for our Fitness Center for her tracking of the student’s hours of fitness activities in the program “Fit for the Future”. She also won the first round of “Fit for the Future” a $5000.00 award in which she used to pay for the installation of our track. In addition, she volunteers to train our marathon team.
Ms Choate also worked with others on the staff to start our “Garden Project”, which she funded by writing a grant from Kohl’s. She works with staff and students to participate in the planting of the garden beds maintains the garden on her own time during the summer months.
Ms. Choate has makes it her mission to make HCCD and enjoyable place to work. She coordinates our events like our Thanksgiving Pie Contest, Cookie Contest, Ornament contest. Staff Secret Pal- 12 days of Christmas, and our Giving Tree in which we put names on a tree of our students that might need help during the holidays. Ms Choate will fill in any classified position where we might have shortage: traffic control, yard duty, crossing guard, office and Library. It is for these reasons and a thousand more that Ms. Choate was our nomination for Employee Making a Difference.
Inspiring students to learn and grow to their potential.