The Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation and Gahanna Lincoln High School will honor retired speech and English teacher Lyle Linerode, technology and golf coach Judy Ratzenberger and teacher and administrator Jack Schmidt with Cornerstone Awards.

The public is invited to the celebration at 10 a.m. Friday, May 4, in the high school auditorium, 140 S. Hamilton Road.

The Cornerstone Award is an annual recognition of builders of excellence, according to Sharon Tomko, Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation president.

Recipients must have been associated with the school district for at least 10 years as an employee or in official support roles.

Linerode, a Heath resident, has been an educator at both the high school and collegiate level for more than 31 years.

He spent 18 years at Lincoln, where he taught English and speech classes while coaching the award-winning speech and debate team.

"Perhaps Lyle's most important legacy as a teacher in his many years at GLHS is the lifelong impact that he has had on his students' lives," said Laurie Jadwin, parent of two of Linerode's former students. "He instilled in them a strong work ethic, a sense of accountability and a self-confidence that has remained with them long after they left the halls of GLHS."

After countless Saturday morning speech and debate tournaments, Linerode retired in 2014.

Soon after leaving the classroom, he took a part-time hobby and made it a full-time business, called Lona Belle's Home Baked Goods.

Lona Belle's focuses on traditional, old-fashioned cookies and breakfast breads, using mostly Linerode's mother's recipes.

His baked goods can be found at various farmers markets during the summer or through special orders all year-round.

Ratzenberger has been an educator for 37 years, coming to Gahanna during her second year in the classroom.

She is a 1970 graduate of Gahanna Lincoln and pursued a degree in education at Ohio State University and a master's degree at Ashland University.

Ratzenberger taught middle school science and math for 21 years and transitioned to an educational technology coach position for the remainder of her career.

She also served as a coach for a variety of sports teams.

Ratzenberger has coached the high school boys golf team for 18 years and currently is co-coaching the team.

"Judy was the spark that made our school culture the highlight of our work," said Angie Adrean, former Middle School South principal. "It was not unusual for Judy to share new and innovative technology-based strategies that could and should be used in the classroom learning environment."

Ratzenberger said the district gave her many opportunities as far as building confidence and enabling her to follow her passions in education.

"I love to learn and they really fostered that," she said. "Gahanna Lincoln has given me so much more than I have been able to give back. We were allowed to be creative. We were allowed to take risks as an educator.

"It is nice to be part of a place that values its students and teachers."

Schmidt was a Gahanna-Jefferson educator for 38 years.

He began his career in Gahanna in 1958 as a math teacher and coach.

Schmidt spent eight years teaching before taking on various administrative roles within the district.

In 1966, he was asked to take the assistant principal's job at the high school.

Schmidt served as an assistant high school principal, principal and assistant district superintendent until 1994, when he became the superintendent.

He retired from that position two years later in 1996.

"Without question, I believe Jack was the most impactful administrator ever in setting the foundations, standards and procedures that allowed Gahanna to transition from a small town to a model suburban district," said Dale Foor, a retired Gahanna administrator.

John Howard, another retired Gahanna administrator, said Schmidt was a leader whose advice was important.

"His expectations were fair and reflected vision for a growing high school that would offer excellence in learning," he said.

Schmidt said he was proud of creating an environment that was conducive to learning.

He said he tried to surround himself with good people who made sure learning was taking place.

"Thirty-eight years and I loved every minute of it," Schmidt said. "I wouldn't have changed a thing."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla