Three educators from Tolles Career & Technical Center were recognized for the effort they put into their work during an August conference of the Ohio Association of Career Technical Education (ACTE).

Three educators from Tolles Career & Technical Center were recognized for the effort they put into their work during an August conference of the Ohio Association of Career Technical Education (ACTE).

James P. Scott was presented with the 2008 Ohio ACTE Teacher of the year Award, James V. Ruble received the Outstanding New Career-Technical Educator Award and Margaret S. Gates earned the Student Services Division Pacesetter Award.

Both Scott and Ruble will go on to compete at a national level, but Gates is not eligible.

Doug Maggied, who serves on the board for both Tolles and the Hilliard City School District, said Scott has been with Tolles for quite a while and puts his heart into what he teaches.

Ruble is in his first year of teaching, but, Maggied said, they have known one another for a long time.

"He goes to our church," said Maggied. "He was in private business for a long time before going into teaching and he absolutely loves it."

While Maggied knows Gates, he admits that he does not know her well.

Director of Student Services Debi Snyder said Gates was a social studies teacher before accepting a position as a school counselor at Tolles in 2002.

"She was looking for a counseling position because she wanted to make a bigger impact," Snyder said. "She was in one of our associate school districts, but I think she has found her niche."

Gates has had other opportunities, according to Snyder, but prefers staying where she is.

During Gates' tenure with Tolles, Snyder has tried to get her to switch to administration.

"She really likes what she is doing," Snyder said.

Serving as a college counselor, as Tolles moves from the old school model to a place where students often head on to college, Gates is helping a lot of first generation students go down the path toward higher education, according to Snyder.

"We have had a huge increase in the number of students going to college," Snyder said.

In describing the ideal counselor, she said, Gates fits the profile. She is thorough, a leader and makes a huge difference on a daily basis.

"I know I can count on her," said Snyder, who supervises the counselors. "If she takes over something, I know it is going to be done right. I am very, very thankful every day. A lot of things that counselors do in schools people never know about. They keep them from being a problem. Kids come in every day with a crisis of one kind or another. I don't even know about it, because Maggie has taken care of it."

John Martin, president of the Student Services Division of Ohio ACTE, nominated Gates for the Award.

Carl Berg, superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical, wrote letters of endorsement for both Scott and Ruble as they were considered for both regional and national awards.

"In my 41 years of public education and 34 years as an administrator, I have known only a couple of other teachers of Mr. Scott's stature and neither of them worked in the career-technical education field," he said. "Jim is, indeed, a rare find."

Berg said the Tolles team vigorously recruited Scott for the position in 2004 when they heard he was returning to Ohio after a nine-year absence while working with the National Future Farmers of America Organization, Georgia Department of Education and Clemson University.

They hoped that he would work with the Tolles' Turf program.

"Jim has transformed a stagnant educational program into a vibrant, verdant educational experience that captures not only the students' interest, but also the interest of our community," said Berg.

Scott transformed the educational landscape of the career-technical planning district both literally and figuratively, according to Berg.

An Ohio state model for sequencing horticulture curriculum was developed by Scott.

"His Turf Advisory Board is a tremendous example of how public education and business/industry can partner together," Berg said. "The total (from scratch) creation of our 400 plus yard long golf hole is an example of industry and education working together with students participating and learning from professionals in their field."

Maggied said the students, with Scott's direction, helped put the bunkers in and choose the appropriate grass for the putting green.

"It was a year-long project," said Maggied.

He said the idea was developed because so many of the students want to work for a golf course, and Scott that they needed hands-on experience.

Ruble joined the staff last August, just at the beginning of the school year, when a teacher retired.

The year started for Ruble, Berg said, without the benefit of the usual intensive summer three-week preparatory courses.

"From the minute the first class bell rang, he immediately demonstrated the ability to gather student attention, obtain their respect and reach them at an inter-personal educational level," said Berg. "James and, as a result, his students are tirelessly engaged in the teaching and learning process, challenging one another daily with new and better educational experiences."

Ruble is among the first of several teachers at Tolles to have their career-technical programs considered for two years of transcripted credit via the Columbus State Community College, according to Berg.

"Watching James teach is like picking up a really good book and being unable to put it down," he said. "While you are enjoying the 'read' and anticipating a good ending, you are also looking forward to quickly getting your hands on the sequel."