Montana

Sandra Willis

Position: Title 1 Coordinator

School: Troy Public Schools

School District: Troy Public Schools

City, State: Troy, Montana

About the Nominee: Sandra Willis was nominated by a colleague, Christina Schertel. Ms. Willis has been teaching in Troy for the past 38 years. As the Title 1 Coordinator for the district, she provides intervention services to students with academic and behavioral challenges to help them move forward in a positive manner. Students love Ms. Willis and credit her with being a positive role model and loving adult in their lives. A student once said, "She is very helpful and always pushes us to do our best. She is knowledgeable in all subjects, and she is always nice to us." Ms. Willis helps collect and analyze data in the district, including ACT scores, SBAC results and STAR screenings.

She is a Department Leader and mentor for new colleagues, and she always has a positive outlook that is admired by the staff. Ms. Willis has been a member of the Even Start Board, Habitat for Humanity, School Intervention Teams, School Improvement Committees and the Montana Education Association. Ms. Willis works with over forty different students each day, and many students credit her with being the driving force to help them graduate. A student once said, "Without Ms. Willis, I never would have passed high school. She was always able to explain things in a way I could understand them." The smiles, sense of humor, knowledge and patience of this woman have positively impacted generations of Troy High School students. She makes her school and community a better place!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="swillis@troyk12.org"]

Roxanne (Cookie) Winslow

Position: High School Secretary

School: Troy Junior and Senior High School

School District: Troy Public Schools

City, State: Troy, Montana

About the Nominee: Roxanne (Cookie) Winslow was nominated by her principal, Jacob Francom. Ms. Winslow has been an integral part of Troy High School for over thirty years. During this time, she has mainly worked as the school secretary. Her influence has been felt through two generations of students. She is a model employee who is always helpful and friendly, and she has made a large impact on her school's culture. She knows each student and is often found giving students little gifts for their birthdays or other special occasions. She is able to balance all of her responsibilities in addition to making a difference in the lives of the students, staff and parents.

Ms. Winslow is part of a team that has helped establish a safe, nurturing environment, and she plays an integral role in the positive culture at Troy High School. She is aware of student issues at home and is often finding ways to help each struggling student. Ms. Winslow adheres to the highest moral and ethical standards and is a great example to people in the school and community. She is a great example of someone who not only strives to educate the whole child, but to focus on relationship building with students and staff alike. Ms. Winslow goes above and beyond in all that she does, and her work has had a lasting impact. Among her colleagues, she is a leader who is sought after for feedback for improvement. Ms. Winslow is one that all can rely on, and her influence is not only felt at the school, but throughout the community.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="rwinslow@troyk12.org"]

Kathy Cripe

Position: Title 1 Coordinator/Teacher

School: W.F. Morrison Elementary

School District: Troy Public Schools

City, State: Troy, Montana

About the Nominee: Kathy Cripe was nominated by her assistant principal and fellow 2016-17 LifeChanger, Diane Rewerts. Kathy Cripe has spent over three decades serving the students of Troy, Montana. As a Title 1 teacher, Ms. Cripe has established strong relationships with children and families who all know and trust her. For many children, she has been an anchor throughout their elementary years. Her strong relationship building skills, excellent instruction and good humor make her an effective educator.

In addition to being an instructor, Ms. Cripe has coordinated the school's RTI process. The school was recognized by the state of Montana as a Sustaining RTI School. This achievement was accomplished by Ms. Cripe's leadership and her ability to collaborate with others. She has developed and implemented a comprehensive assessment process for students. The data from these assessments has been organized by Ms. Cripe in a manner that is useful for teachers. Students in the Title 1 program have made significant gains in achievement as a result of her efforts.

Ms. Cripe is most impressive because she truly cares about children, her colleagues and the community. Her caring nature and dedication are evident in the manner in which she lives her life. She is a true LifeChanger!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="kcripe@troyk12.org"]

Kelly Palmer

Position: School Counselor School: Troy Junior and Senior High School

School District: Troy Public Schools

City, State: Troy, Montana

About the Nominee: Kelly Palmer was nominated by his principal and superintendent, Jacob Francom.

Kelly Palmer has been a school counselor at Troy Junior and Senior High School for the past twenty years. His nominator, Jacob Francom, has had the opportunity to work with and learn from Mr. Palmer for the past six years as principal of Troy Junior and Senior High School and Superintendent of Troy School District.

As the school counselor, Mr. Palmer works with students, parents and teachers to increase student achievement and promote student awareness and readiness for college. He possesses the quintessential values and work ethic that make a professional successful. His combination of diligence, intellect, hard work and empathy is the cornerstone of his accomplishments. Mr. Palmer is very skillful and has earned the respect of the students, his peers and the community. His influence is felt not only in the classroom, but in the school community because of the relationships he has developed with students, parents and teachers throughout his tenure.

Mr. Palmer’s impact in the Troy Junior and Senior High School has been extraordinary, and his accomplishments have improved services for all Troy students. His influence has helped the district accomplish the following:

-Troy High School’s graduation rate is at an all-time high of over 94%. - A more formalized intervention program at the high school has been implemented, with many teachers involved and regular communication taking place between them, therapists, counselors and administration. -Mr. Palmer oversees many graduation activities to encourage students to attend post-secondary schooling, such as FAFSA paperwork nights, scholarship week, ACT testing, etc. -Many students who struggle at Troy also struggle with attendance. The district has seen an improvement in student attendance by 10% across the board due to Mr. Palmer’s role in attendance committees, positive relationships with students and regular communication with parents.

There are many different aspects to a school counselor’s position, and Mr. Palmer balances all of them with grace and dignity. He is a team player and has had a major impact on generations of students and on the Troy community. Mr. Palmer is a very conscientious educator who has demonstrated this time and time again. He is an intelligent, hard worker and an incredible LifeChanger!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="kpalmer@troyk12.org"]

Christina Schertel

Position: Vice Principal/Special Education Director School: Troy Junior and Senior High School

School District: Troy Public Schools

City, State: Troy, Montana

About the Nominee: Christina Schertel was nominated by her principal and superintendent, Jacob Francom.

Troy School District has a significant number of students who receive special education or Title services. The Special Education Director, Christina Schertel, plays a pivotal role in the district with many different responsibilities. Through Ms. Schertel’s outstanding leadership, the district has transformed from a system that was in disarray to one that is on solid ground and moving in a positive direction.

When Ms. Schertel started as the Special Education Director, the department was in need of systemic organization. In a short time, she has organized and made the special education services in the district effective for each and every special needs student. Through her efforts, most identified students are receiving support and making progress in the regular education program. Ms. Schertel has organized and streamlined the data gathering and testing that is regularly done on each student. Student files are in order and individual education plans are set up in accordance with state and federal law. Parents are regularly involved throughout the planning, implementation and modification of any services which are provided to special needs and Title students. They are often in the school and classroom discussing the progress of their child. They trust Ms. Schertel in working with their children and often express their appreciation for her leadership and hard work.

One of Ms. Schertel’s biggest long-term projects is the implementation of testing to track student progress. When she started at Troy, there was little data used to track and identify students. Now, there are several pieces of data throughout the district that are regularly used by special education teachers and administration to track students’ progress, such as Istation's Indicators of Progress (ISIP), Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR), ACT, positive referrals, discipline, etc. Because the data is organized in a useful manner, it has become a reference point when speaking about individual students and overall school and district improvement initiatives. Furthermore, this data is used to ensure that student needs are met in a flexible, sensitive and responsive manner.

Ms. Schertel’s impact in the district has been extraordinary, and her accomplishments have improved services for all Troy students. Her influence has helped the district accomplish the following:

-Troy High School's graduation rate is at an all-time high of over 94%. -Improved reading and mathematics scores. -Improved speech services for students who need easy access to a speech therapist, as well as adding a component to the program that allows students to continue their speech practice at home on a web-based program. -Improved School to Work program for special education students to help them acquire skills while working in various locations and businesses in the community. -A more formalized intervention program at the high school has been implemented, with many teachers involved and regular communication happening between teachers, therapists, counselors and administration. This program also includes a morning Advisory component at the start of the day for each student.

Aside from her duties as special education director, Ms. Schertel is also active in various other roles, including Troy Youth Soccer Program Coordinator, PTA member, Student Council volunteer and teacher-mentor for three new high school English teachers. She touches many lives in across the district!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="cschertel@troyk12.org"]