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Teachers of excellence

Golden Apple Awards to be presented April 27

April 19, 2010
By EMILIE NELSON, Messenger staff writer

The Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce will recognize six area educators for their excellence in teaching when they are presented with Golden Apple Awards April 27.

This year's recipients are Dan Brown, Heather Butrick, Terri Halstead, Claudia Harms, Bobbie Westergaard and Gary Winkler.

Brown, who teaches level III special education at Fort Dodge Senior High, was nominated by parent Carey Bligard.

"Mr. Brown was, without question, the best teacher our son had during his many years of schooling," Bligard said in her letter of nomination. "It was not long before we saw a significant increase in the speed of our son's learning. Mr. Brown was calm and gentle, but persistent in his efforts to teach."

Janice Rees, a paraeducator who works with Brown said "Dan goes to extra lengths to make sure that every student has the best education that he can provide. He works harder than anyone I have ever observed."

A pre-kindergarten teacher at Southeast Webster-Grand Elementary School, Butrick was nominated by parent Linda Weiland.

Fact Box

What: Golden Apple Recognition Awards banquet

When: April 27, 6 p.m.

Where: Willow Ridge Golf Course, 1788 Madison Ave.

"Mrs. Butrick deserves this award not just for what she did for my family, but for what she continues to do every year as she teaches," Weiland said in her nomination.

"Parents and children love her enthusiasm and interest in helping kids to love learning also," said Sharon Heggen, principal at SW-G Elementary School in Dayton.

Terri Halstead teaches eighth grade level I special education at Phillips Middle School. She was nominated by her colleague, Katie Gronbach and student Kadeisha Foy.

"Terri's presence on our team, and in our general education classrooms, helps ensure that all students receive an education appropriate for their needs," said Gronbach in her nomination.

"I think Mrs. Halstead is a really good teacher because she helps me understand things from other classes," said Foy. "When I work with Mrs. Halstead, my grades improve."

Nominated by colleagues Dave Mann and Terri Stanberg, Claudia Harms teaches family and consumer science classes at Fort Dodge Senior High School.

"Simply put, after a career spanning 36 years in the same building, Claudia Harms continues to be a positive influence on her students' lives," said Mann in his nomination.

"Ms. Harms spends countless hours checking on her students at work or in the home," said Stanberg. "It's very common to see her in different restaurants on weekends or evenings visiting with employers regarding the placement of her students and how they can improve their experience."

Westergaard, a French teacher at Fort Dodge Senior High, was nominated by former student Eric Niesen and his mother, Vicki Niesen.

"Even three years removed from her classroom, I still have an admiration for Mrs. Westergaard as a teacher, mentor, person and friend," Eric Niesen said in his nomination. "French class is still a vivid memory of high school for me, and my time in Mrs. Westergaard's classroom is a time I will always cherish."

"I am honored to nominate Mrs. Westergaard for the Golden Apple Award," Vicki Niesen's nomination said. "I have three children who have had the opportunity to have Mrs. Westergaard for French at Fort Dodge Senior High. They would recommend every student take French because of her outstanding qualities of being a great teacher."

Winkler was nominated by colleagues James Rossow and Dave Mann. He is an industrial technology teacher at Fort Dodge Senior High.

"Gary Winkler has selflessly given himself to his job for over 30 years," said Rossow. "He has worked far beyond his contracted hours showing his dedication to teaching."

Each year the Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce honors outstanding area educators with Golden Apple awards.

To be chosen for this prestigious recognition, teachers must be nominated by students, colleagues or members of the public. A Chamber committee makes the final selections from the nominees.

To be eligible for nomination, teachers may teach at any Webster County-based school, including Catholic, Lutheran and Christian schools.

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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