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Academy Awards honor High School Academy staff and volunteers


Community volunteers and staff members who supported the high school Academies in the Rockford Public Schools were honored Wednesday night with the first Academy Awards ceremony.

The awards, held at Anderson Japanese Gardens, were hosted by the district’s College and Career Readiness Department and were supported by the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and Alignment Rockford.

"This event was a great opportunity to say thank you to the community volunteers and staff members who have been essential to the success of our high school academies," said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett.

The Academy Awards also recognized specific award winners with College and Career Readiness Rocking Awards in the following categories (winners are underlined):

Council Member of the Year: This award is recognizes community members who work on the RPS College and Career Readiness Councils to help shape academies, pathways, Academy Support Teams, and district-wide student programs. Nominees: John Ekberg, Circle Boring and Machine; Deb Eisfeller, Alpine Bank; Earl Wisley, Schmaeling Construction; Wendy Vaughn, NIU Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic; Sam Schmitz, Goodwill Industries; Linda Mullen, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.

Academy Support Team Member of the Year: This award recognizes those who serve on RPS Academy Support Teams and work directly with staff and students to enhance their learning experiences. Nominees: Greg Harle, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 23; Josh Houghton, Riverside Community Bank; Chad Moe, Rockford Fire Department; John Ekberg, Circle Boring; Ron Clewer, Rockford Housing Authority

Project of the Year: This award recognizes the enhancements to learning experiences that staff and community members develop for students. College and Career Academies are intended to demonstrate the relevance of the core curriculum and develop students’ 21st century skills. These projects are examples of these goals. Nominees: Mock Epidemic, Guilford High School; Deal or No Deal, Jefferson High School; Apprentice Pipefitter, Roosevelt High School; Volunteer Income Tax Preparation Assistance (VITA), District Wide; UIC School of Medicine Public Health Photo Contest, Jefferson High School.

Academy Staff of the Year: This award recognizes model staff members who inspire their colleagues to take risks, share their vision, and take action to best implement the academy model for students. Nominees: Melissa Swaziek, Jefferson High School; Nicole Frazer, Jefferson High School; Dawn Mylle-Watson, Jefferson High School; Jennifer Carson, Roosevelt High School; Ben Stover, Jefferson High School; Lynn Stockton, Jefferson High School; Devon LaRosa, Auburn High School; Gail Zernia, Jefferson High School; Russell Vanderheyden, Guilford High School; Rebecca Roth, Auburn High School; Mary Nedland, Jefferson High School; Jill Jennings, Jefferson High School; Lynn Graczyk, Jefferson High School; Scott Dimke, Jefferson High School; Judy Gustafson, Jefferson High School; Gina Caronna, District Office; Dave Carson, District Office.

The high school redesign, called the Academy model, started as a way to engage students in school and connect their school work and real-life application. Jefferson High School piloted the Academy model with the Jefferson Freshman Academy in the 2012-13 school year. This school year, Jefferson seniors graduated by Academy, and the academies expanded to each of our high schools. For the 2014-15 school year, all RPS high school students will be in an academy.

The Academies of Rockford are:
Freshman Academy
BAMIT: Business, Arts, Modern World Languages and Information Technology
EMITT: Engineering, Manufacturing, Industrial and Trades Technology
HPS: Human and Public Services
HS: Health Services