Pickerington Schools officials recently honored teachers and staff throughout the district who they said went above and beyond in the 2018-19 school year to help students and colleagues.

The annual "Pride of Pickerington" awards were handed out to district employees during a recent Pickerington school board meeting.

The district recognized certified and classified personnel for work in their respective school buildings and also presented two districtwide awards.

Winners were selected after a process that included nominations by other staff members, voting within each building and a review of the nominations by the building principals.

Criteria included how well nominees represent the district in areas such as core values, work performance, dedication, collaboration and reflecting the Pickerington Schools mission.

This year, Michelle Davis, an intervention specialist at Tussing Elementary School, and Lynn Trotch, a library media aide at Sycamore Creek Elementary School, were the two districtwide Employee of the Year award recpipents.

Zack Howard, the district's assistant superintendent of human resources for the district read from their applications during the awards ceremony.

Davis has been at Tussing for six years, and has been in education for 15.

"I believe my work this school year and in prior years has reflected our core values in Pickerington because our core values are aligned around best practice and what is best for our students," Davis stated in her application.

"I plan on touching on the core values of student focused, passionate, innovative, collaborative and embracing diversity and finally fiscally responsible.

"Focusing on the student has to be the most important part of my work. I work with an amazing staff and amazing leadership that plan, shape and work daily to put students' needs first and foremost."

Howard said the district recognized David works with teachers and staff in her building to plan instruction that meets each child at their respective learning levels, but that also exposes them to rigor and high expectations so they don't fall further behind.

"Students know that expectations in my resource room are consistent, fair, equitable and routine enough that they can feel safe to take chances and learn," Davis said. "I believe people rise to high expectations.

"Our expectations should never be less for my students as long as we are looking at where they are and making an even playing field so they have access to their work. My expectations for my students are very high.

"We say, 'I can do hard things' in our classrooms. We say, 'I have never heard the word can't. Can't never could do anything.'"

This was Trotch's third year as a full-time library media aide at Sycamore Creek. Prior to that, she was a substitute in the district for two years.

In her application, Trotch wrote, "I know that I have the opportunity to make an impact in every student's life in my building. I am very committed and passionate about making sure my students are engaged, active learners and know how to use all the wonderful tools provided to them in the media center."

Howard said Trotch encourages students to develop a love of reading, exploration, research and using their imaginations, and collaborates with teachers, building administrators and specialized staff on a weekly basis to help students' learning.

"Working with all staff and our school community helps me gain perspective and focus on the unique needs of every student at Sycamore Creek Elementary," Trotch said.

This year's Pride of Pickerington building-level winners are:

* Certificated staff -- Denise Luther, Diley Middle School; Megan Berger, Fairfield Elementary School; Jenny Nihiser, Harmon Middle School; Lisa M. Bristle, Heritage Elementary School; Jacob Duffy, Lakeview Junior High School; Craig Friedrich, Pickerington Elementary School; Leigh Farrington, Pickerington High School Central; Scott Skiles, Pickerington High School North; Molly McGarvey, Ridgeview Junior High School; Susan Schneider, Sycamore Creek Elementary School; Kayla Marcus, Toll Gate Elementary School; Tricia Watkins, Toll Gate Middle School; Michelle Davis, Tussing Elementary School and Shannon Dormer, Violet Elementary School.

* Classified staff -- Stacy Gallion, Diley Middle School; Stanley Mansfield, Fairfield Elementary School; Jennifer Ward, Harmon Middle School; Lori Starkey, Heritage Elementary School; Bonnie Tolley, Lakeview Junior High School; Julie Lewis, Pickerington Elementary School; Carrie Asch, Pickerington High School Central; Jackie Earhart, Pickerington High School North; Jan Vensel, Ridgeview Junior High School; Lynn Trotch, Sycamore Creek Elementary School; Heather Lane, Toll Gate Elementary School; Bright Basnett-Behnke, Toll Gate Middle School; Brian Saas, Tussing Elementary School; Rosalind Flaugher, Violet Elementary School and Vicki Baptist, district office.

"These awards are a high honor," said Debra Sawyer, Pickerington Schools human resources director.

"They represent recognition of these employees' efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty.

"The individuals who have received these awards are outstanding representatives of the district. They epitomize excellence in criteria such as work performance, dedication, collaboration and reflection of the Pickerington Schools mission."