Ohio Teachers go the Extra Mile in their Classrooms and Communities

Ohio Teachers go the Extra Mile in their Classrooms and Communities

Teachers help shape the minds of our children and their futures. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week May 7-11, Northeast Ohio schools have selected a few teachers to recognize and show gratitude for all that they do.

Amy Kreiger

Amy Kreiger

Lower School art teacher at Menlo Park Academy
Nominated by Ms. Stacy Stuhldreher, school director

Kreiger instills a love of visual art in her kindergarten through fourth grade students. The laughter that emanates from her classroom is proof that students enjoy creating art. She always volunteers to go above and beyond as demonstrated by her help with open houses, tours, working with Edison Club, administering testing and decorating for the Hogwart’s Party. She makes artwork for various events and displays around the school, donated artwork for the Winter Benefit, and helped with winter camp.

Kreiger is a renowned artist in her own right. Her contributions to the art industry have included different types of commissions for art collectors and businesses, including portraits, caricatures, diplomas, certificates and hand-painted signs. One of her most notable commissions was a portrait of Stevie Wonder, commissioned by his family for a birthday gift. Other contributions include art shows at galleries such as SPACES Gallery in Cleveland, and a solo show at her alma mater, Youngstown State University.

Elaine Fippin

Elaine Fippin

English and literature teacher at Our Lady of the Elms
Nominated by Our Lady of the Elms staff

The Elms has been a “home away from home” to Fippin for 30 years. In addition to teaching, she coaches the school’s Speech and Debate Team and Pen Ohio High School Writing Team. In the past, she coached the Power of the Pen team and moderated the Writers’ Circle. Fippin opens her students’ eyes to amazing literature, challenges them to be brave on stage and helps them find their voices as speech competitors.

“My students give me incredible gifts of hope for the future and pride in the young women they become,” Fippin says.

She challenges herself each year by offering something new in terms of reading, writing or experience. This might include the special events she plans for Banned Books Week, National Poetry Month or Shakespeare’s birthday.  

“Her unparalleled passion works in union with an extraordinarily kind heart to cultivate an environment in which students feel heard and valued,” junior Jordan Cottrill says.

“She made me want to work harder as a student … and that hard work paid off,” says alumna Jessica Forrest, who is now a practicing lawyer.  

Fippin has been honored for her excellence in teaching by Denison University and the College of Wooster.

Rebecca Simpson

Rebecca Simpson

Second grade teacher, University School
Nominated by Dr. William O’Neil, associate headmaster and academic dean

Simpson is pioneering the Responsive Classroom Approach with her students. The approach is about best teaching practices that cultivate academics and emotional intelligence and it complements University School’s emphasis on teaching character development. Simpson is a member of University School’s 2020 Curriculum Committee, which is tasked to explore new kindergarten to 12th grade pedagogies and educational practices that will create engaged citizens who bring a global perspective to their future careers.

Simpson sees the benefits with her young students in that they have a clear understanding of how to take care of each other, themselves, their learning, and the space they navigate with flexibility and open-mindedness that focuses on the community. Responsive Classroom Approach is a building block for developing globally competent individuals by giving children the capacity to understand the diversities and complexities of the world with a social conscience that promotes justice, equity and action for the greater good.

Connie Miller

Connie Miller

6th through 8th grade social studies teacher at Birchwood School of Hawken
Nominated by Sunny Roy,  former student

Miller is known for her ability to teach students to think like historians and for her generosity to meet with students after school and on weekends to work on their National History Day projects. Miller enjoys taking students through the process of historical research and helping them present their findings in diverse ways. She has received the Ohio Historical Society’s Ohio History Day Teacher of Merit, the David Van Tassel Award for outstanding contributions, and the Ohio Humanities Council District 3 Teacher of Merit.

Eileen Monea

Eileen Monea

First grade teacher at St. Hilary School
Nominated by Mrs. Tracey Arnone, principal

Monea’s enthusiasm for teaching and love for others shines in all she does. As a teacher, she is exemplary in the expertise, creativity and kindness she infuses into her classroom. She regularly incorporates STEM activities into her lessons, is proficient in the Orton Gillingham methodologies for teaching reading, and is a model of the Catholic faith for her students. Monea teaches her students the importance of supporting and respecting others. In 2001, she led her students in making a special quilt to comfort children whose family members were victims of the 9/11 attacks. The quilt has traveled across the country to sites of tragedy in the years since. She also annually engages her students in activities to learn about and demonstrate respect for our nation’s military veterans. Instilling in our youngest students not only excellence in academics but strength of character is what Monea does best.

Sheila O’Connor

Sheila O’Connor

Music teacher at Old Trail School
Nominated by  Old Trail School Division Directors

O’Connor has been bringing her passion for music and the performing arts for eight years as a music teacher at Old Trail School. She teaches students in grades fourth through eighth subjects including recorder, band, hand chimes, world drumming, chorus, jazz band, Broadway bound and musical production. Sheila holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the College of Wooster and has just been accepted into the Case Western Reserve University Music Education Master’s Program. “Students come to my classroom excited with great stories about music — I just love teaching music,” O’Connor says.

She conducts and directs students as they perform before large audiences several times each year and is now rehearsing with 50 middle school students who will perform “Into the Woods, Jr.” in May.

Away from school, Sheila is active as an actress in musical theater productions in the region, most recently playing Yonah in the French Creek Theatre’s production of “Children of Eden.”

Melissa Arezone

Melissa Arezone

Kindergarten teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Willoughby-Eastlake School District
Nominated by Gina Kevern, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools

Arezone engages her kindergarten students using visual arts, song and movement. Her class is literacy based, and students learn to develop a love for learning and books.  

Arezone’s influence moves beyond the classroom. She willingly and readily engages in committees outside of the classroom and has made substantial contributions to district initiatives such as the Standards Based Grading Committee, Kindergarten Committee, KIDS First Night Committee, and many more. She is a lifelong learner who goes out of her way to adapt to today’s learner by developing her skill, embracing trends and initiatives, and bringing these new ideas to her students.

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