Kellie Easton – District 1
Prior to taking on the role of assistant principal at the Charter School of the Dunes in Gary, Kellie Easton taught at Morton High School in Hammond. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Earlham College, she took a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership and administration from Ball State University. In 2014, she was recognized by the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce as Teacher of the Year. At CSD, Kellie has implemented PBIS, restorative justice, and the Gradual Release Method, lowered the suspension rate, and implemented the 8-Step Program of intervention to support improving achievement in math and language arts through a Success Time program. Concerned also for teachers, she created a teacher evaluation manual, developed observation guidelines, and implemented the Jim Knight approach to academic coaching. Having gone through SEL training, she has a special interest in and a professional goal to find a person equally passionate about serving the social and emotional needs of students as well as training teachers to serve her school. As an adjunct instructor at Calumet College, she teaches undergraduate education majors. In addition to her work at school, Kellie leads a trauma support group called “Can We Talk?” at the Hope Center, serves on the board of the Gary Aquatorium, and volunteers in other community support and improvement programs. An instructional coach at CSD says, “The way that Kellie solves problems and ensures everyone’s needs are met is both admirable and inspiring.”
Geoff Walmer – District 2
Geoff Walmer earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Grace College and his Master of Education degree in educational leadership and administration from Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne. After teaching math at Wawasee High School and serving as dean of students at Goshen Middle School and assistant principal at Wawasee, he now serves as assistant principal at Warsaw Community High School. Though Geoff has been recognized by many students, he counts his greatest honors as the messages of appreciation from parents, students, and staff members. Among his proudest achievements, he counts his work in developing a data-driven instructional culture within the WCHS English Department, applying his ALICE Certified Instructor training to develop and administer ALICE training throughout his district, and his contributions to creating a reunification plan for WCHS. He has worked closely with district and building staff, resource officers, parents, and community members to develop, implement, and train others in the security protocols. He looks forward next to bringing the social studies department at WCHS into the data-driven model and maintaining the safety plans of the school district.
Susan Summers – District 3
An assistant principal at Homestead High School, Susan Summers taught social studies, ranging from seventh grade to AP Economics, AP US History, and AP World History in the Southwest Allen County Schools where she was named district Teacher of the Year in 2002. Her proudest accomplishment is the expansion of the dual credit program which has seen an increase from 103 to 1015 participating students who earned nearly 11,000 credits for a savings in college tuition of $7.4 million. Having established a system to ensure both the eligibility of students for the program and dual credit certification of teachers, she advocated for the expansion of course offerings based on both teacher talents and student interests. In addition, she has implemented a new teacher orientation program that provides extensive and in-depth information, training, and mentoring to every teacher new to the high school. Susan’s principal says, “She is the rare person who combines creative talent with the linear thinking skills to complete tasks in ways that would, and do, escape others.” A graduate of Ball State University, she earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Studies Education and a Master of Arts degree in educational administration and supervision. Of her fifteen years in the classroom before entering administration, Susan worked with students as an instructor in the classroom and as a coach on the track at South Decatur High School, Woodside Middle School, and Homestead High School.
Jeremy Gondol – District 6
A graduate of Ohio University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education and of Ashland University where he earned a master’s degree in educational administration, Jeremy Godol is the assistant principal at Dalevile Junior/Senior High School. Prior to coming to Daleville, Jeremy served as a classroom teacher in both Austintown, Ohio, and Washington Township (Marion County), and as an assistant principal at Poland Seminary High School in Poland, Ohio. At Daleville, Jeremy has cultivated a culture of charting and recognizing academic progress and establishing high expectations for academic work as evidenced, especially, in the quarterly recognition program that brings post-high school students back as guest speakers to share their experiences in higher education. Attesting to his direct connection with students, Jeremy’s superintendent says, “His contagious enthusiasm has motivated our students to adopt [his] positive outlook, believing that they can accomplish anything if they apply the time and effort required to succeed.” Having seen Jeremy serving food in the cafeteria when the kitchen was short-staffed, cleaning hallways, and supporting teachers directly in the classroom, a faculty member says of him “no task is too small or beneath him.”
Andrew Ashcraft – District 7
Before taking on the position of assistant principal at Southport High School in Perry Township (Marion County), Andrew Ashcraft served as dean at Southport Middle School after teaching middle school math in Wayne Township. At the University of Indianapolis, Andrew earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in math education with a mild intervention license and a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership. At Southport High School, Andrew has initiated a program to promote student-driven development of a positive school culture through which student members representing different sub-cultures in the school in cooperation with two teachers recognize students through social media for serving and supporting others. On the academic side, he implemented a Freshman Success Program that targeted at-risk students making the transition from middle to high school to support them in improving grades and attendance. In addition, he has worked with instructional aides to promote intentionality in all four domains of the classroom. Going beyond his direct responsibilities as an assistant principal, he also works toward improving math instruction at the high school, supporting teachers with the same passion he gives to supporting students. His principal says Andrew “is a leader who people are willing to follow, not because of his position, but because of the relationships he builds.” Active in student ministry in his church, Andrew’s focus is on growth in students.
Zachary Schroeder – District 8
Before becoming assistant principal and Athletic Director at Cascade Middle School, Zachary Schroeder taught math at William Henry Harrison High School and at Brownsburg East Middle School where he also served as athletic director. Zach graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics education and earned a Master of Business Administration degree in educational leadership from the University of Indianapolis. His proudest achievement is the Athletic Ambassadors program that involves representatives of each athletic team in developing leadership skills through community service events and fund-raising for charities. To ease the transition into middle school, he implemented “5th Grade Night,” affording incoming students an opportunity to get to know the school and its culture. Moreover, Zach redesigned the weekly professional development plan, placing each teacher on one of six committees – School Safety, Classroom Management & Building Relationships, Public Relations, Multi-Tiered Support Systems, and Instructional Strategies – promoting relationships among teachers outside of their subject and grade levels. In recognition of Zach’s contribution to the school, his principal says, “His leadership in staff development has allowed teachers to reach new heights along with our students.”
Wes Upton – District 9
Wes Upton is the assistant principal at Mooresville High School, having previously served as temporary assistant principal at Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center. At the University of Indianapolis, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in social studies education. Later, as a recipient of a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he returned to his alma mater to earn a Master of Business Administration in educational leadership. After implementing the RAPS Critical Writing program in response to close analysis of ISTEP data for Mooresville High School students, Wes’s efforts accomplished a rise in the ELA passing rate to 73%. To implement RAPS (rewrite, answer, prove, summarize) Wes oversaw a small number of teachers in subjects across the curriculum who applied the approach within their disciplines and collected data on student success. After this trial period, he carried the program through to the rest of the staff by directing the initial group to share and instruct colleagues in the approach to great effect. In addition, he works with parents to enhance student culture at the high school, interacting with students as well to bring everyone into his own level of enthusiasm.
Adam Barton – District 10
As a student at Franklin College, Adam Barton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology/secondary education. He went on to earn his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Olivet Nazarene University and pursued the Principal Licensure Program through Ball State University. Subsequent to a nineteen-year career as a biology teacher – during which time he was named Teacher of the Year, he took on the role of Assistant Principal at New Palestine High School. His principal attributes the success of the school’s Early College program to Adam’s hard work and determination, complemented by his leadership regarding implementation of Indiana’s Graduation Pathways at New Palestine and aligning the Senior Exit interview process with the new graduation requirements. A colleague says of him, “Adam fosters a culture of collaboration and an unmatched sense of family among his staff. He provides teachers with the perfect balance of autonomy and guidance which promotes innovation in the classroom and a tremendous sense of ownership in all facets of curriculum and instruction.”
Glen Buechlein – District 11
Currently the assistant principal at Jasper High School, Glen Buechlein started his administrative career as assistant principal at Vincennes Lincoln High School after teaching at both Vincennes Lincoln and Eastern Hancock High School for a combined nineteen years. In 2010, he was named State Teacher of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Having completed work on his Bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University, Glen earned one master’s degree from both Olivet Nazarene University and another at Oakland City University. Particularly proud of the “Students of the Month” program he has overseen, he has partnered with a local department store supplemented by fund-raising efforts to award $15,000 in practical and needed merchandise, typically to students in need, all the while building relationships between students, teachers, and the community. Other relationship building extends to recognizing positive behavior, developing trust between students and the resource officer, introducing comfort dogs in classrooms and offices, and promoting understanding through a program involving twelve students and four adults as well as special guests from the community. He has also implemented CAATS (Caring Alumni Assisting Thankful Students) as a means of supporting technology repairs and subsidizing students’ on-line class costs. Glen’s superintendent says, “Glenn has a giant heart for serving others. He is passionate about making a difference in the life of anyone in need.”
John T. Cox – District 12
Assistant principal at River Valley Middle School in Jefferson, John graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and went on to earn a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Louisville. He began his professional life as a teacher at Jonathan Jennings Elementary School. In his career he has coached track, basketball, and cross country as well as served as student council sponsor. While an elementary teacher, JT helped to develop Greater Clark’s vision, and as an e-learning coach helped to implement a district wide 1:1 initiative, leading building level professional development. Active in his community as well, JT serves as a member of his hometown’s city council. As an assistant principal, he has served on the district’s Safety Tactic Team and collaborated with all schools in the district to streamline a discipline matrix that facilitates consistency across all 6-8 grade levels. His work with River Valley Middle School’s PBIS program recognizes excellence in attendance, academics, and behavior. Currently, he is implementing the Ford Next Generation Academy model at the middle school.
For more information about the selection process or to nominate someone for this prestigious award, please click here.