Wonderful, phenomenal, cheerful and advocate are just a few of the words parents, former students and others used to describe Carol Capretta, who was named 2012 Educator of the Year for the Hilliard City School District.
Capretta, a fourth- and fifth-grade loop teacher at Darby Creek Elementary School, was one of 19 Hilliard teachers recognized as an Educator of Excellence April 25 during an annual banquet at the district's administrative office complex.
Each year, the Hilliard High School Alumni Association solicits nominations from each of the district's elementary, middle and high school buildings. At the conclusion of the recognitions, the alumni association names an Educator of the Year, so Capretta was surprised when she learned of the honor.
Several dozen of her current and former students returned to their feet and waved pictures of her pasted to construction paper and Popsicle sticks.
"I'm so surprised and appreciative," Capretta said.
Capretta has taught at Hilliard schools for 17 years and began her career at Avery Elementary School. She is a 1978 graduate of Hilliard High School. She and her husband, Bob, reside in Hilliard and have four adult children.
Former student Dan Keener, in a nomination letter, wrote that Capretta should be Educator of the Year because she "can turn any activity into fun learning ... when she reads, she makes voices for every character. In social studies, we would dive down to a ship wearing goggles."
Keener, now a student in Dublin schools, said Capretta has visited him and wrote, "This makes me feel special and I know that she cares about me. I really believe that Mrs. Capretta NEEDS to be teacher of the year. She is better than the best. She is phenomenal."
Parent Tawnya Jones, whose daughter, Alyssa, is in her fifth-grade class, described Capretta as a "wonderful teacher and mentor."
"She has taught Alyssa so many life lessons in addition to her normal teaching," Jones wrote.
Tom Calhoon, president of the Hilliard High School Alumni Association, read nomination forms and introduced each of the 19 Educators of Excellence at the banquet, concluding with the introduction of Capretta as Educator of the Year.
The other 2012 Educators of Excellence are:
* Patty Ratliff, K-5 speech and language teacher, Avery Elementary School;
* Michele Stokes, fourth-grade teacher, Britton Elementary School;
* Kasie Drobnick, first-grade teacher, Brown Elementary School;
* Kathryn Walker, kindergarten teacher, Hilliard Crossing Elementary School;
* Mary Shirley, K-5 intervention specialist, Hoffman Trails Elementary School;
* Stacey Zawisza, first-grade teacher, J.W. Reason Elementary School;
* Wendy Cushnie, kindergarten and first-grade teacher, Norwich Elementary School;
* Cara Rings Jones, kindergarten teacher, Scioto-Darby Elementary School;
* Rick Thorpe, science and language arts teacher, Tharp Sixth Grade School;
* Ben Foust, history teacher, Heritage Middle School;
* Becky Grimes, health and physical education teacher, Memorial Middle School;
* Karen Bachman, science teacher, Weaver Middle School;
* Tom Woodford, guidance department, Bradley High School;
* Russell Lupis, math teacher, Darby High School;
* Jane O'Shaughnessy, guidance department, Davidson High School;
* Diane Fish, Hilliard City School District Preschool; and
* Margaret "Marnie" Morrison, gifted services, central office.
Nominations were not received from five schools: Beacon Elementary School, Hilliard Horizon Elementary School, Ridgewood Elementary School, Washington Elementary School and Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School.