A Triad Middle School Teacher was shocked to learn Tuesday that she is a regional finalist for a Peabody Energy Leaders in Education Award.
Therese Hembruch, who teaches seventh-grade students at the school in St. Jacob, was one of 31 people who will be invited to a dinner in August in St. Louis where the national winner will be selected. She was notified of being named a finalist, which comes with a gift basket and a $1,000 check, during a surprise assembly.
"I so didn't think I had won the award," Hembruch said. "I had looked on their website and I didn't see anything. So I told all the kids who wrote letters I didn't get it and thanked them for writing a letter to support me. Then today I was asked to come to the gym and I thought I was going to go teach a square-dance. That's when they surprised me to tell me I won the award."
Triad Middle School Principal Cathie Buller said she nominated Hembruch because of her innovative teaching style.
"She's a former professional dancer," Buller said. "She got into education later in life so she brings an energy and perspective to class that is unusual. She brings motion and action to her lessons and gets the kids involved."
Buller said instead of reading from books about the American Revolution she divides half of her class into colonial guerilla fighters and the other half into British troops.
"She hides all the Americans in the bleachers and the she has the British march in a line," Buller said. "When they can see the whites of the British soldiers eyes, the Americans attack with Nerf balls. It really brings home how that war was fought."
Hembruch said when she got into teaching some schools didn't get her style. When she told them about her active lessons, they passed on a chance to hire her.
To be recognized is just amazing to me," Hembruch said. "I think I teach a little bit differently than teachers in the past. It's nice to be recognized for that. At Triad they welcomed me with open arms and let me teach the way I think is best."
Other regional winners include Ellis Elementary School reading teacher Cindy Hettenhausen of Belleville; Tina Barisch, a special education teacher at Central Elementary School in O'Fallon, Rich Bickel, principal of O'Fallon Township High School and Alton High School Director of Guidance LaDonna Whitner.
The winner of the Peabody grand prize will win $5,000 in cash.
Prospective college students who need help to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- commonly known as the FAFSA forms -- can get some assistance from McKendree University.
McKendree University's Office of Financial Aid is offering free workshops to help college students and their parents complete the 2013-2014 FAFSA application online. Anyone seeking help with the FAFSA -- no matter what college or university they attend -- may take advantage of this opportunity.
Assistance will be available between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 2 and 16. The sessions will be held in the Piper Academic Center, Room 120, on the McKendree campus at 701 College Rd. in Lebanon.
Students can Register online at https://www.mckendree.edu/offices/financial-aid/fafsa-event.php.
The Southwestern Illinois College Foundation will offer new scholarships to SWIC Nursing Education students beginning in fall 2013 thanks to a generous donation from Helitech President William Courtney of Belleville.
Courtney announced a $25,000 commitment to the college's foundation. The funds will be used to create a scholarship in honor of his wife, Tamarra L. Courtney, who has spent much of the past year in treatment for colon cancer. The Mrs. Tamarra Lane (Allen) Courtney Scholarship will be available for students in the college's Nursing Education program. Starting in fall 2013, two $2,500 awards will be made to SWIC students pursuing a nursing career.
During a surprise announcement to his wife and children, Courtney said that over the past 25 years it has been important to his family to give back to the community.
"As good receivers, it was important that we be good givers," Courtney said. "Through her experience with this dreaded disease, Mrs. Courtney has had significant insight on the need for excellent nursing support."
SWIC leaders pledged to put the scholarships to good use.
"We are honored to have been selected for this donation," said SWIC President Georgia Costello. "The SWIC Foundation is able to award nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually to students thanks to individual, business and civic organization donations such as this generous gift of $25,000 from Helitech."
Scholarships are available for new, current and transferring SWIC students. Apply for 2013-14 Foundation scholarships online at swic.edu/foundation between Jan. 1 and March 1. For more information, call toll free in Illinois at 866-942-SWIC (7942), ext. 5518 or email email@example.com.
Do you have an item for Education Matters or a school-related story idea? We want to know about it. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.