D29 recognizes teachers of year, staff

A middle school English teacher has been selected as Williston District 29's 2014-15 Teacher of the Year.
"I want our students to recognize and realize it doesn't matter where they come from. Everyone is capable of achieving a quality education as long as they're determined," said Henrietta Williams, an ELA teacher at Williston-Elko Middle School, who called it an "honor" to represent the district she has worked for the past eight years.
To accomplish that goal, Williams said it takes everyone working together. "I want to be instrumental in continuing to establish a positive relationship with the community and our schools," said Williams, who has taught for 22 years.
Williams' motto motivates her to help students succeed: "When one fails, we all fail. When one succeeds, we all succeed." She said the school is adopting that motto next year.
She thanks her colleagues and family. She is the mother of DeAndrea, Alecia and the late Big James, and has a brother Matthew.
The teachers of the year from the other two schools are Ashley Tedder from Kelly Edwards Elementary and Jeremy Lehman from Williston-Elko High. All were recognized during an end-of-the-year celebration for district employees June 4.
"It's such an honor," said Tedder, a second grade teacher, of representing the school she's taught at the past seven years.
She credits her fellow teachers with helping her become Teacher of the Year. "I've learned so much from them," she said.
In return, Tedder said she wants to use her role as the school's top teacher to help those same teachers who have helped her. With new standards being implemented, Tedder wants to help her colleagues "dig down deep" into those standards to help students learn what they need to know.
Tedder said she loves her job, especially when children "light up" after learning something new.
She and her husband Johnny have three children, Alyssa, Jaxson and Jayson.
At WEHS, Lehman said he is also honored to represent the school he's taught at for three years. "We have a terrific staff and I plan on doing my part to continue our success we've established over the last few years," said Lehman, who taught for two years in Allendale before coming to Williston.
Lehman, a social studies teacher, said he loves his job because every day brings a new challenge and opportunity to instill life-long knowledge and skills to students. "I get to be a positive role model and impact the lives of our students," said Lehman, who also coaches varsity cross country and middle school boys basketball.
Lehman and his wife Sarah, also a teacher, have a son, Jackson.
In addition to recognizing their teachers of the year, the district surprised Debbie McNeil, the secretary to the superintendent and school board, as the Support Staff Member of the Year.
"I am honored and humbled," said McNeil, who has worked for the district for 19 years, including the past eight in her current role.
They also recognized seven employees who retired this year: Clara Harris, Sally Kardes, L.C. Pryer, Elaine Strawbridge, Tommy Savage, Melinda Wilson and Karen Zeigler.
The following employees were recognized for their years of service: Mable Barrett, Stephanie Chavis and Yolande Thompson for five years; Melissa Easterling, Tony Flowers, Kimberly Richardson and Cathy Smith for 10 years; Alison Brown, Stephanie Johns, Lynn Pruitt, Patricia Ulmer and Samantha Wright for 15 years; Linda Alsept and Freddie Dicks for 20 years; Richard Stanton for 25 years; and Wanda Coleman and L.C. Pryer for 30 years.
Thirteen employees were also recognized for having perfect attendance this past school year: Lee Barrett, Mable Barrett, Nancy Brady-Wood, Alison Brown, Betts Funderburk, Lou Ann Lindell, Linda Lindsey, Clinton Stephens, Vanessa Stroman, Greg Sweet, Yolande Thompson, Valerie Tobin and Bernard Walters.
David Augustine and Heather Salisbury were recognized for receiving their Masters degrees while Patricia Ulmer was recognized for receiving a Masters degree Plus 30 hours.