Two teachers, student win Kohl awards

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Glacier Creek band teacher Jeanne Hammes and MHS orchestra teacher Steve Kurr have been named recipients of the 2017 Herb Kohl Education Foundation Fellowship Award, while 21st Century eSchool senior Baniah Meyers won a student award.

Hammes, Kurr and Meyers were recognized at an awards ceremony for CESA 2 and 3 recipients on Saturday, April 29 at MHS. Kohl attended the event along with State Superintendent Tony Evers. MCPASD Superintendent George Mavroulis, MHS principal Steve Plank, Glacier Creek principal Bill Deno and Board of Education member Kurt Karbusicky were also in attendance.

Hammes and Kurr were two of 100 teachers selected from around the state. There were 24 teachers from the CESA 2 region who were recognized. Fellowship recipients are educators who have been chosen for their superior ability to inspire a love of learning in their students, their ability to motivate others, and their leadership and service within and outside the classroom.

Meyers was one of 207 graduating high school students to be recognized. Meyers will receive an Initiative Scholarship. Those recipients are selected by their school and have demonstrated exceptional initiative in the classroom and have shown strong promise for succeeding in college and beyond.

Hammes joined the District in 2014-15. She previously worked as a middle school band and music teacher in grades in New Glarus (2012-14), a band teacher in Mount Horeb, (2007-2012) and as a band teacher at two middle schools in Arizona for 12 years. She  has a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona and a master's in conducting from Southern Oregon University.

She is a regular participant in music teacher conferences and workshops such as the Wisconsin Music Education Association's "Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance" (CMP) summer workshops, WMEA State Music Conferences in Madison, and the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinics in Chicago.

She also founded the school's first Percussion Ensemble Club year and the club was invited to perform at the Wisconsin Day of Percussion showcase concert in January.

"I'm humbled to be recognized in this way,'' Hammes said. "I think it's important to note that the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Fellowship also awards each teacher's school $3,000. I'm planning to use this award money to purchase much-needed school instruments for our band students. I'm grateful for the recognition and look forward to being able to bring music to more MCPASD families thanks to the generous support of the Kohl Foundation." 

Kurr became the orchestra teacher at MHS in 2001. He previously worked for three years in the Madison Metropolitan School District at Glendale and Sandburg elementary schools. He has a bachelor's degree from UW-Madison.

Kurr is also in his seventh year as the founding conductor for the Middleton Community Orchestra. He is also a conductor with the National Melharmony Youth Orchestra. He has been the Wisconsin Schools Music Association state honors orchestra viola coach multiple times and the orchestra coordinator in 2006-07. He has also been a Fine Arts Week organizer at MHS for 12 years.

"It is an incredible honor to be recognized with some of the best educators in the state,'' Kurr said. "I want to thank all of the music students at MHS for teaching me so much.''

Hammes and Kurr will each receive $3,000, while Meyers will receive a $5,000 scholarship. All CESA 2 and 3 winners will be honored at a ceremony at Middleton High School on Saturday, April 29. Former U.S. Senator Herb Kohl and State Superintendent Tony Evers are expected to attend the ceremony.

"I think it is significant that Wisconsin's students, teachers, principals and schools are recognized for their devotion to education and learning,'' Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools board president Michael Lancaster said in a statement.

Kromrey principal Steve Soeteber was named a Leadership Award winner in 2016, while 2016 MHS graduates Connor Kooistra and William Bowen-Braxton won student awards. Glacier Creek special education teacher Tim Ashe and Kromrey and MHS German teacher Jolene Wochenske were honored in 2015.

The Kohl Foundation Scholarship and Fellowship program was established in 1990. The program has handed out more than $11.5 million to Wisconsin educators, students and schools.

"Education is the key to the future of Wisconsin and our nation,'' the former U.S. Senator said in a statement. "I am very proud of the accomplishments of these students, teachers, and principals and look forward to the great contributions they will make in the future.''