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NCS "Take 5" Winners
Newark City Schools wants to celebrate its many great staff members who are making the district a great place for opportunity and learning. Every week, NCS staff members "take 5" minutes to nominate a colleague who is going above and beyond. The nominees' names are entered into a random draw. The award winners are surprised at work at the end of the week, and we will reveal the weekly winners every Monday.

Aside from the 92 staff members who received "Take 5" Awards this school year by being randomly picked from a list of nominees, nearly 300 more staff members were nominated by their peers throughout the school year. Please click here for a list of nominees from the school year who were not picked at random: Take 5 nominees. Thank you to the many staff members who nominated their peers this year.

Congratulations to this year's winners:
Todd Gallup, Food Service Director
Todd's colleagues said he cares about students and staff and works to help the district serve the best meals possible throughout the year. He also helps with many other events throughout the year, including Citizen of the Month.

Joey Wells, Gifted Secretary and Auxiliary Clerk
Joey's colleagues said she is reliable, efficient, professional and fun to work with. She is willing to lend a helping and and help out wherever needed.

Gabe Weaver, 8th grade Language Arts Teacher at Heritage Middle School
Gabe's colleagues said he is hard working and goes above and beyond to ensure the team is organized and running smoothly. He is their "Google guru" and is much appreciated. He is very caring and wants what is best for everyone.

Abby Tanner, Orthopedic Aide at John Clem Elementary
Abby's colleagues said she goes above and beyond in the classroom daily, and is a consistent presence for her students.

John Harter, Bus Driver/On-Bus Instructor
John's colleagues said he knows his students and cares about their well-being. He's great with the kids as a driver and cares for them like they're his own. Earlier this year, he took extra steps to help ensure a student's safety at home.

Past winners:
Courtney Larkin, Wilson Middle School Band Director
Courtney's colleagues said she is inspiring and makes them want to push themselves to be better. She has a great attitude, contributes to a positive and welcoming environment and teaches like someone more experienced despite being a first-year teacher.

Mary Cowan, 7th Grade Science teacher at Liberty Middle School
Mary's colleagues said she is smart and quick, and level-headed. She is a great listener and loves her students both at Liberty and in the After School Adventures program.

Dave Oder, custodian at Cherry Valley Elementary
Dave's colleagues said he always works hard to keep the building spotless. He always makes sure the school shines on the outside and inside for staff and students.

Danielle Romine, health aide at McGuffey Elementary
Danielle's colleagues said she works tirelessly helping to support students and staff. She comes to work with a smile on and interacts with everyone in a pleasant and caring way.

Ali Evans, Intervention Specialist at Newark High School:
Ali's colleagues said she works hard every day. She puts her students' priorities first and is always there for them.

Elizabeth Crist, Intervention Specialist at Hillview Elementary:
Elizabeth's colleagues said she radiates positivity wherever she goes. She goes above and beyond every day for her students and never hesitates to reach out to help others. Her passion for teaching is strong, and she has a heart of pure gold.

Taylor Pozderac, Gym Teacher at Cherry Valley Elementary:
Taylor's colleagues said she is a ray of sunshine in the building. Earlier this year, she worked with the music teacher to have a combined gym and music unit all about folk dancing.

Tammy Brooks, Secretary at Heritage Middle School:
Tammy's colleagues said she is always helpful and willing to answer questions. She deals with difficult challenges with grace and dignity and supports the building staff in many different ways.

Greg Weisant, food service employee
Greg's colleagues said he works extremely hard, always doing what is asked of him with a smile. He's also a big fan of the Wildcats, and can always be found at basketball games and helping the teams.

Wendy Smith, district courier
Wendy's colleagues said she goes above and beyond to meet everyone's needs and has a great work ethic. She is a team player.

Cheri Allen, Social Worker at Ben Franklin Elementary
Cheri's colleagues said she is always there for her students, staff and anyone who needs to have her listen. She gives the best advice. She is always so caring and helpful. She jumps in to help without anyone asking her to do it. She is always there to help guide, give out resources, or support you no matter what.

Casey Hardy, 1st Grade Teacher at John Clem Elementary
Casey's colleagues said she is a wealth of information and resources and always happy to share and help anyone! She has great relationships with her students and her coworkers. She's such a role model for our profession and has such a big heart for the kids.

Chris Fidler, Student Advocate at Liberty Middle School
Chris' colleagues said she is an essential part of the building's success! She skillfully diffuses student anxiety and teaches coping skills that students carry into other situations at school and in life. Her positive, calm energy is infectious in the best possible way.

Cecilia Valentine, Secretary at NCS Digital
Cecilia's colleagues said she is a wonderful, cheerful and helpful staff member without whom the building could not function. She keeps the place running on an even keel day after day.  She provides support for staff and students and is always concerned and attentive whenever anyone comes to her with a question.

Lindsay Miracle, science teacher at Newark High School
Lindsay's colleagues nominated her for her devotion to her students' success and patience with a variety of learners.
Tracy White, bus driver
Tracy's colleagues said she is a strong team player and always goes above and beyond. She frequently helps out with coverage for routes and is always looking to do what is best fore students.

Jeff Quackenbush, Athletic Director
Jeff's colleagues said he is an excellent coach, athletic director and role model for students across the district.

Rebekah Naughton, 5th grade teacher at Hillview Elementary
Rebekah's colleagues said she goes above and beyond to reach the needs of her students and she has the heart of a saint. She is so kind and caring. She welcomes advice and constructive criticism in order to be better for her students. She treats everyone with respect and is just an overall loving and caring human being.

Tammy Berry, EMIS Coordinator
Tammy's colleagues said she is always willing to help any and all school secretaries. She is very kind and patient when explaining how to do something. If you make a mistake, she will help you fix it and kindly explains what you did wrong. She is always gracious and quick to provide help to not just me but everyone who seeks it. She is a true asset to Newark City Schools.

Chad Becker, maintenance at White Field
Chad's colleagues said he does an outstanding job during the year to keep White Field immaculate, working hard to prepare the facility for the variety of activities that are held there throughout the year.

Kevin Murphy, gym teacher at Ben Franklin Elementary
Kevin's colleagues said he is constantly coming up with new activities for students, while maintaining high standards and holding students responsible. He wants to me a role model, and spends extra time getting to know students.

Laurie Bradshaw, 6th grade Language Arts Teacher at Wilson Middle School
Laurie's colleagues said she is creative and approaches every day with a positive attitude. She is "the glue" for the 6th grade team, and is always willing to help her co-workers and students out.

Dawn Pordash, cashier at Cherry Valley Elementary
Dawn's colleagues said she always goes above and beyond to make students feel special in the cafeteria. She is always ready to give a hug or a word of encouragement.

Krystal Grumm, Preschool Classroom Aide at Flying Colors
Krystal's colleagues said the goes above and beyond every day for the teacher and students. She is dependable, reliable and wonderful to work alongside.

Amy Gartner, intervention specialist at NCS Digital
Amy's colleagues said she always steps up to the plate, is creative and works with all teachers to provide additional ways for her students to learn content. She works hard to get to know all of her students, and also helps plan fun activities for staff. She takes time out of her day to acknowledge her co-workers and helps lift spirits.

Tomorrow West, copy center secretary
Tomorrow's colleagues said she is incredibly quick when making copies. She is efficient and returns copies quickly. She can always be counted on.

Doug Dusenberry, Dean of Students at Heritage Middle School
Doug's colleagues said he is always willing to help and guide young teachers and listen to students. He puts student and staff needs first. He cares about the continuous growth of Heritage, and making the school a positive and inviting environment.

Christa Day, Intervention Specialist at Liberty Middle School
Christa's colleagues said she is magically able to find ways to reach students and help them overcome challenges and grow. She is a team player and always willing to help students and staff in whatever way she can.

Elizabeth Tuck-West, ortho aide at McGuffey Elementary
Elizabeth's colleagues said she is a great idea bank. The kids love her. She is always so patient and kind with those students. She differentiates to the students' interested to keep them in task and is constantly telling the children that she loves them.

Larry Williams, Maintenance Supervisor
Larry's colleagues said he works hard day in and day out. Ensuring that Newark City Schools is a safe and ready place to learn for both students and staff. He goes above and beyond all the time.

Olivia Haas, District Nurse
Olivia's colleagues said she is a remarkable colleague and person. She strives to make everyone feel welcomed and appreciated, and works to make the building (Cherry Valley) look nice through the her work on bulletin boards that highlight students and staff throughout. She also lead's the school's After School Adventure program.

Kathy McLaughlin, secretary at Newark High School
Kathy's colleagues said she works hard and is a great team player. She is willing to help anyone.

Maura Horgan, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
Maura's colleagues said she goes above-and-beyond to support students, staff and families. She is always available for a listening ear or means of support.

Christy Samples, Intervention Specialist at Hillview Elementary
Christy's colleagues said she has gone above and beyond to help with IEPs, answering questions and always being supportive.

Jason Snelling, custodian at Legend Elementary
Jason's colleagues said he always has a nice attitude and the school is clean and looks good. He knows how to make someone smile on a bad day.

Ronni Bowyer, District Wellness Coordinator
Ronni's colleagues said she is exceptionally cheerful and goes above and beyond to support staff members at Wilson, where she has her office. She also leads the district's Social, Emotional and Academic Success Team and is amazing.

Alex Byers, Kindergarten Teacher at Cherry Valley Elementary
Alex's colleagues said she goes above and beyond to support her students academically and emotionally. She uses different strategies to meet students where they are and is extremely patient.

Marcus Soles, custodian at NCS Digital
Marcus' colleagues said he always comes to work with a smile on his face and cares a lot about his performance. The building is clean every day, and he is always friendly with everyone he meets.

Tara Boyer, Assistant Curriculum Director
Tara's colleagues say she is knowledgeable and helpful. She helps others to understand. She has a kind and welcoming demeanor.
Allison Moore, 4th Grade Teacher at Ben Franklin Elementary
Allison's colleagues said she always a smile on her face! Her class loves her and always goes the extra mile for her students. She creates a calm and welcoming environment.

Tirrell Jackson, bus driver and lunch server at Hillview Elementary
Tirrell's colleagues said his positive attitude is contagious and he loves doing what is best for students. He is positive with students as a driver, showing them individual attention and greeting them every single day with a smile.  He is so positive in our food service as well.  He gladly serves the students of our buildings with a smile.

Tom Bowman, Principal at Newark High School
His colleagues said he works incredibly hard to make sure the students and staff have a positive experience while at NHS.  He communicates with students, teachers, and families to make sure that everyone has the information and supports they need.  Mr. Bowman is invested in making the NHS staff feel like family to each other.

Kathy Lorenz, Newark High School Art Teacher
Kathy's colleagues said the does a good job of helping others follow through with goals, and also ensuring that students and staff members feel comfortable. She is a phenomenal teacher. She is a positive influence and great role model, and is kind an considerate to all students.

Vicki Howe, secretary at Newark High School
Vicki's colleagues said she puts in countless hours helping the band, choir and orchestra directors throughout the year, and also works hard to fill substitute positions for staff. Her job takes a lot of planning and patience. She is comforting and supportive.

Brent Fickes, Principal at Liberty Middle School
His colleagues said that Brent greets every student with a smile and high five very morning, setting the tone for great days at Liberty. He is supportive of staff and students and takes the time to develop rapport with everyone.

Stephanie Rakestraw, 6th grade teacher at Wilson
Stephanie's colleagues said she has been a continuous leader for Wilson and the school's PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) team. She constantly is working hard to help students and teachers.

Elizabeth Dusenberry, secretary at Liberty Middle School 
Elizabeth's colleagues said she has worked hard to learn a new position with professionalism and precision. She is respectful and courteous of all staff members, students and parents, and has been a great addition to the Liberty family.

Cindy Baker, Principal at McGuffey Elementary
Cindy's colleagues said she is always trying to do the best for students, staff and the district. She addresses behavior problems and works to get appropriate resources. She goes above and beyond for all.

Jan. 9, 2022
Lauren Dutiel, 3rd Grade Teacher at Legend
Lauren's colleagues said she always goes above and beyond to help others. If she doesn't know the answer, she will find it for you, and she always has a positive attitude.

Tara Russell, Custodian at John Clem Elementary
Tara's colleagues said she is a positive influence in the building and works relentlessly to make John Clem a great place to be.

Kyle Walters, Principal at Heritage Middle School
Kyle's colleagues said that he is good to the staff and students at the school, and truly cares about each of them. He goes out of his way and helps wherever he is needed.

Past winners:
Michelle Bell, 3rd Grade Teacher at Hillview Elementary
Michelle’s colleagues said she has grown a lot. She has become an awesome teacher in her second year and connects well with students.
Peggy McKinley, Secretary at McGuffey Elementary
Peggy’s colleagues said she is friendly and kind. She is helpful to all who ask and shows a vast amount of kindness and respect for the students in her building.
Dena Cable-Miller, Principal at Ben Franklin Elementary
Dena’s colleagues said she is a great leader at Ben Franklin and is very supportive of students and staff. She “is the most selfless, caring person. She always shows up to school with a smile on her face.”

Elizabeth Ford, Intervention Specialist at John Clem Elementary
Her colleagues said she is always a bright light and is always smiling.
Tom Smeltzer, Building Maintenance Supervisor
Tom’s colleagues said he has been instrumental in helping the district with the operation of the former State Farm building as the district works on its redevelopment.
Meg Abbott, Dean of Students at Hillview and Cherry Valley elementary schools
Her colleagues said she is supportive of staff and students and is frequently recognizing staff for a job well done. She helps a lot with IEPs. She exudes positivity and makes her schools a cheerful place to work.

Eun Duk Jung, EL Teacher
Her colleagues said she does a wonderful job working with English Learners, and also helps the district to stay on track with EL students and requirements.
Ruth Spence, Transportation Secretary
Ruth’s colleagues said she works hard for the drivers and helping get students to and from school. Ruth is able to schedule routes, juggle phone calls and drive a bus when needed.

Matt Phillips Dean of Students at NCS Digital and Carson Elementary
Matt’s colleagues said he is a positive role model for staff and students, and will help with anything they need. He is always positive.

Brian Stepanic, Curriculum Coach at Newark High School
Brian’s colleagues said he is helpful and supportive in helping direct instruction.
Carrie Roberts, Bus Driver
Carrie’s colleagues said she is always going above-and-beyond and helps to cover other routes when needed. 
JR Shumate, Interim Principal at Wilson Middle School
JR’s colleagues said he is working to make Wilson even better, and he has been helpful. He has done an exceptional job while filling in as principal, and has made an impact on assisting with behavior issues, supporting staff members and positively impacting the culture of the building.

Past winners:
Christie Devore, 2nd Grade Teacher at Cherry Valley Elementary
Christie's colleagues wrote that she goes above and beyond for her students and school, and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She is a positive light for the building.

Megan Holton, Secretary at Newark Ben Franklin
Megan's colleagues said that she takes on many roles, always has a positive attitude and helps fellow staff members in many ways, from helping with jammed copiers to other needs that arise.

Julie Elwell, Principal at Carson Elementary
Julie's colleagues said she is always positive, is willing to listen and take suggestions to help. She keeps everyone's spirits high and gives credit where it is due. She is a positive role model to every staff member at the school.

Ross Matheny, 7th grade Language Arts Teacher at Liberty Middle School
His colleagues said he is continually motivating students to think critically and encourages them to be accountable and motivated to learn. He cares about all of his students and takes the time to educate, entertain and form relationships with them.

Amy McDaniel, Curriculum Department Secretary
Amy's colleagues said she is a team player and is always ready to take on a new task or learn something new. She is quick with a smile and always looks to help others out.

Allan Fordham, Assistant Maintenance Supervisor/Assistant Transportation Supervisor
Allan's colleagues said he is dependable and always available, works tirelessly and  hard to bridge gaps in many departments.

Laura Fischer, 4th grade teacher at Carson Elementary
Her colleagues said she is the ultimate team player. She is welcoming to everyone who comes to the building, and is supportive, kind and caring. Laura is a mentor to both teachers and students.

Monica Moran, food service worker at McGuffey, Cherry Valley and Newark High School
Monica's colleagues said she looks for the best in others and is always putting the students first. She shows what a servant's heart looks like with her actions more than her words.

Ann Davis, Dean of Students at John Clem and McGuffey Elementary schools
Ann's colleagues said she is dedicated and hardworking, and always helps to find a solution. She demonstrates patience and a natural ability to build relationships with all students, and is always willing to lend a helping hand.

Past winners:

  • Mary Borgia, Gifted Coordinator at McGuffey, Ben Franklin, Cherry Valley and Wilson
    Her colleagues say that Mary, along with her fellow Gifted Coordinators, travel between buildings to provide gifted enrichment opportunities for students in 4th and 5th grades, plus co-teaching a 6th grade gifted math group. They have also implemented a PETS talent development program for 1st grade students this year, and planned and executed an amazing enrichment day for 4th and 5th grade gifted students.
  • Margaret Morris, Behavior Specialist at Heritage Middle School
    Her colleagues said she goes above and beyond for the students and fellow staff members she works with.
  • Angie Adkins, Principal at NCS Digital
    Her colleagues said she has done an amazing job at NCS Digital and she goes above and beyond for staff and students. There is a positive energy at NCS Digital.

• Laurie Skapik, 1st Grade Teacher at Legend Elementary School 
Her colleagues said she is a great friend and teacher, works hard to make sure learning is engaging, and helps solve problems.

• Carol Fink, aide at Newark High School
Her colleagues say she is a friendly face and handles daily tasks well.

• Andrea McVay, Principal at John Clem Elementary School
Her colleagues said she has done a wonderful job leading the building, is supportive and encouraging of staff members and goes above and beyond.

• Randa Carr, Intervention Specialist at Newark High
The colleagues who nominated Carr said "She is an incredibly dedicated worked who always does what needs to be done and often goes above and beyond the requirements." She is selfless and always willing to help.

• Michael Russell II, Mechanic at the Maintenance & Transportation Warehouse
Michael's colleagues said he works "relentless hours to keep the fleet up and running" and helps transportation in other ways. He continually goes "above and beyond a mechanic's responsibility."

• Nick Myers, Principal at Hillview Elementary
Nick's colleagues said he "wants what is best for everyone and he strives for success." He is a great mentor.

#we_are_ncs #NCSTake5

• Amber Dusenberry, Intervention Specialist at Newark Heritage Middle School  
Amber was nominated as a "great mentor and friend." She is "a huge help to all of the intervention specialists" at Heritage, and "has been that positive light for all of us."

• Kelley Gallagher, Custodian at Wilson Middle School
The colleagues who nominated Kelley said she "goes above and beyond" in keeping the building clean. "She takes pride in her work and taking care of the teachers and their rooms on the floor." "She is one of the kindest souls I've ever met!"

• Laura Sluss, Principal at Legend Elementary School
The colleagues who nominated Laura said "she is patient, kind, and incredibly helpful and organized."  "Laura's contagious positive energy spreads through our school on a daily basis."