Three local teachers will be recognized Monday for their dedication in the classroom during the presentation of the Bellefontaine Rotary Club’s 22nd annual Excellence in Teaching Awards.
This year’s recipients are Mike Kouse from the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, and Katie Rychener and Mary Smith, both from Bellefontaine High School, each to be honored at the noon luncheon at the Logan County Friendly Senior Center.
Mr. Kouse is an electronic engineering teacher, and his student, Nick Davis, nominated him for the award. In the application, the student touted the value of his instructor’s years of work experience in the electrical engineering field prior to becoming a teacher.
“He brings the experience he has had in the workforce into our lab to provide real world problems and activities for us.
“Mr. Kouse genuinely cares about each of us. He’s not here to be a teacher, he’s not here because it’s his job. He allows us each to work at our own pace in lab because he understands that we each work differently.”
The OHPCC instructor explained in the application that one obstacle he tries to overcome with his students is their “lack of belief in themselves and what they can accomplish.”
“I strive for each person to find a career they can be successful at. I have a little more than two hours a day for two years to get to know each person.
“I have found by presenting each student a series of difficult challenges allows them to learn about themselves. The challenges range from technology-based to leadership skills.”
Fellow award winner Mrs. Rychener, marketing teacher and DECA adviser, also helps to prepare her pupils for their future careers, according to her nominator, student Jessica Miller.
“Mrs. Rychener truly cares about every student and works hard to help her students prepare for their future and she wants them to be successful. She treats each student with respect and is extremely professional and teaches the importance of professionalism in the workplace.
“... Her involvement and the involvement of her students goes beyond what would be expected for a marketing class. This helps us to get involved and improve our professional, financial and marketing skills.”
Prior to employment with Bellefontaine City Schools, Mrs. Rychener previously worked in the marketing departments of NBC 4 in Columbus and also at Clear Channel Communications. In her application, she described her classroom philosophy of mutual respect.
“I work off of the philosophy of mutual respect and that attitude is everything,” she wrote. “I respect my students, but it must be reciprocated. I treat them as if I am their boss, not just their teacher. We talk out issues.
“I emphasize employability constantly, but I let them be themselves. I encourage creativity and tell them my door is always open. I firmly believe the students see me as approachable. I relate our work to my personal experiences in marketing.”
Similarly, math teacher Mrs. Smith said she takes it upon herself to assist her pupils with exploring their possibilities for college.
“I enjoy getting to know my students. I take every opportunity to speak with them about how their lives are going,” she said in her application.
“I often discuss with my students about possibly going to college and the kind of work ethic is takes to be successful there. Having four children at various stages of college education I believe helps with my credibility.”
Her nominator, fellow BHS teacher Ben Davis, noted his colleague’s impact on the math department and entire teaching staff at the school.
“Mary is a very dedicated, diligent and caring teacher. She is involved with multiple facets of the educational process at BHS. She is the catalyst for our department in pushing forward what is at times unpopular changes by the state, and making sure that her fellow colleagues are informed.
“She is the whirling dervish of Bellefontaine High School. Many people can put in time, but not everyone that puts in the time necessarily makes a difference like Mary Smith that reaches far and wide.”