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UCS Champions
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Jennifer Heywood, Beck Elementary

HeywoodMrs. Heywood goes above and beyond  to make sure that her kindergartners have a terrific introduction to school
Mrs. Heywood went above and beyond often to make sure that her kindergartners had a terrific introduction to school, despite all the craziness in the world.

I'm sure that it wasn't easy planning both synchronous and asynchronous instruction, keeping 20+ 5 year olds engaged in full time remote learning, and then reintroducing them to a whole new idea of coming to school for full days in January.

The amount of grace, patience, and understanding she provided her students and parents during this time was unparalleled. I feel extremely lucky that my son had the chance to begin his school career in Mrs. Heywood's class and I know that he will always remember her fondly as will our family.

-Lisa Rohde

Monica Smyka, Wiley Elementary

She creates a bond with her students that continues years after they leave her classroom

πŸ“šMrs.Monica Smyka 🌸 Is a totally humble, thoughtfully sweet and extremely knowledgeable and caring teacher.

She recalls and speaks to her students personally as they pass and excel from her grade to the next grade level.

🌸 Mrs. Monica Smyka takes time to recognize by name ~ those Students who she taught and guided personally in her classroom; wanting always to recognize them as they walk over to her or as they are bidding her a cheerful “Hi Ms. Smyka or Goodbye Ms. Smyka”

She definitely has a bond and kindne
ss with her students for years to come as they move on to Higher Grades. She is concerned and interested in the Students and it shows in her caring of them!!! What a wonderful experience my Grandson has in her with her mannerism by remembering Him and his Sister each day as they pass her by! A Thank you spoken to Mrs. Monica Smyka means so much for all her caring and support of her Students!!!

When Mrs. Smyka learnt my Grandson had his story “Park Boy” Chosen by the DIA she wrote him to express her feelings. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ YAY!!!!!! EXCELLENT!!!!! WAY TO GO ALEX!!!!!! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! Keep me posted about his success please! Miss him more! Monica.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Now you know how thoughtful she is and we are sending a very Heartfelt Thank You
πŸ’•πŸŒΈπŸ’• Alexander and Paloma

Mary Bommarito

Janet Altz, Wiley Elementary

She deserves to be honored for her compassionate personality and kindness

AltzAn amazing Lady Ms. Janet Altz.

She is very caring, friendly, intelligent and a concerning Mother, who always offers a friendly Smile, a wonderful hello to parents and the children.

She has many friends and is fair, helpful and kind. My family has known her from day one meeting her and her sweet daughter Addison ( who I feel knows and is friends with everyone with a wonderful little personality).

Janet deserves to be honored for her compassionate personality and kindness. She is most helpful and protective of all the children in the classrooms, lunchroom, playground and office - always seeing where she can help out.

She is an amazing lady, mother and, surely her husband would agree, wife! She is welcoming and resilient in life. She truly deserves to know how very kind she is thought of for all she does wholeheartedly! Thank you Janet! 

πŸƒπŸŒΈπŸƒ  πŸƒπŸŒΈπŸƒ πŸƒπŸŒΈπŸƒ

-Mary Bommarito

Kim Barg and Dawn Bazarewski, Schuchard Elementary

They know the students by their names 

Schuchard Food ServiceSchuchard Elementary Food service heroes Kim Barg and Dawn Bazarewski are tuly #UCS Champions. They know the students by their names and ask them how their day was.

This team supports student learning by making sure each child has a good meal every day.

Our students were so excited when Mrs. Barg was a “Mystery Reader” during March is Reading Month. 

-Darren Millar

Kyler Barrette, Eisenhower High School

His efforts were a gamechanger for others

Some people have a natural talent of helping others. It just naturally becomes a part of their everyday life and they really don’t even realize how they are positively impacting others. They don’t ever expect or want anything in return and just do it out of the goodness of their heart. They are so humble and don’t even realize how above and beyond they are going to help others.

BarretteThe person I am describing is Kyler Barrette, a graduating Senior at Eisenhower High School and the Utica Center for Math, Science and Technology. This all began in the early stages of elementary school. We would go to teacher conferences and the teacher would always tell us what a great student he was and then mention something about him not always finishing all of his work in class and having to finish at home. Now this wasn’t a bad thing; the reason he wasn’t finished was because he would stop and take the time to help his classmates who were struggling to understand before finishing his. Always thinking of others before himself.

Skip forward 10 years which’s lands the world amid a global pandemic. So excited to finally be a high school senior and experience all the traditional and special “senior moments”. But, because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, almost everything was uncertain! Life as everyone knew it was turned upside down. In the blink of an eye school was transformed into a “virtual” learning system. Not only were the students having learn in a completely different way, but the teachers had to “learn” themselves how to teach in a whole new way. It was a real struggle as everyone had to figure out a new way teach and learn and be prepared for frequent changes depending on the restrictions brought forth by the current status of the ongoing pandemic.

Kyler and some of his classmates decided to take it upon themselves to make the decision at the very beginning of their Senior year to make the best out of the situations that were brought forth. Making the best out of everything he and his classmates would be missing out on during their final year at UCS. These students had just experienced a complete lockdown with which there was no in person social interaction with anyone but their immediate family. Kyler noticed how he and his friends were struggling for that social interaction. Everyone sitting in their own rooms, kitchens or basements virtually going to school everyday on their laptops. He realized how much the social interaction was an integral part of learning. So to make the best of it, he got together with a few of his senior classmates and they decided to put together a small “senior learning pod”. He transformed our ping pong table into a work/ study area and they would gather around it and participate in virtual school together.

Everyone had their own laptop and ear buds and would attend their own classes. But there was something much more to just being virtually in class. Even though the group was very small they were able to experience comradery with one another during breaks and lunch.

This was a gamechanger for these students! All of a sudden you could see some spark of hope, even if it was a small part of “normalcy “! These students were back to smiling and looking forward to each day. The students would take turns “hosting” school for the day. But the story still continues for Kyler, he could still see his friends and classmates struggling with virtual learning. It was so new to everyone and for some, it took some getting used to. So, Kyler took it upon himself to work with and tutor those needing extra help or explanation of a topic or subject. Being a part of the UCSMST program gave him the opportunity to take part in advanced and AP classes which gave him the opportunity to help others. He saw many off his friends struggling with their classes and wanting to give up.

In an effort try to make this new way of learning more understandable, he would offer his knowledge to anyone that needed it. He literally spent anywhere from 2-3 hours daily reteaching concepts to student classmates who were struggling. He was even helping college students. Many were in tears and truly having a hard time. But Kyler kept them going with his natural talent to explain concepts to them in a different way. He was so grateful to be able to help his fellow students out. Kyler said that the smiles on their faces when they finally understood something after he had explained it to them was worth more than anything in return. It truly filled his heart! Though Kyler is a very humble person and helping others is just a natural part of his personality. 

Dawn Bazzy, Crissman Elementary

Every week, she spent over 6 hours creating   enrichment videos for  all kindergarten students.   When my daughter saw her,    she said  “mom, she’s real!” 

BazzyI am so pleased with the opportunity to showcase, kindergarten teacher, Dawn Bazzy as my champion. With the elementary schools no longer having ISM classes, it also meant that the student's had one less day of specials.

Every week, Dawn and her daughter would spend over 6 hours creating an "enrichment to Science & Social Studies" episode, complete with a full lesson and craft! A friendly little lamb named "Marshmellow" would join them as well in their lesson and participate in some question and answer time! After they recorded the lesson, Dawn would upload it to youtube and send out the link for "Mrs. Bazzy's Special" to all the Crissman Kindergartners!!

Even when returning face to face, Dawn continued to make these lessons/videos for the entire Kindergarten student body. There are 32 videos in total. :) I personally have a Crissman Kindergartner in another class and remember the moment my daughter saw Mrs. Bazzy in person...she said "Mom!! She's REAL?!?!" (She thought she was famous.) ;)

As a parent, it meant so much that Mrs. Bazzy felt like our kids were important enough to not only plan her lessons for the classroom but also take the time to prepare these online lessons for the kids as well. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to talk about Dawn Bazzy and the "Champion" that she is to my daughter. 

-Brianna Verdoodt

Melanie Braley, Messmore Elementary

BraleyMrs. Braley is a 5-star teacher! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Mrs. Braley has been an important influence in the life of our son and so many others. During the 2019-2020 year she made it her mission to connect with her students on a heart-level, so they would each feel safe in her class. During in-person learning that year my son formed a bond with her that would prove to be a crucial relationship in his young life.

As the world moved to online work and schooling, my son struggled with the transition. Mrs. Braley noticed the struggle, so she frequently checked in with him (and us) to see how she could help. She worked with Mrs. Cocco (another UCS champion) to coordinate support for continued learning and emotional well-being for our son. In her communication with us she provided the same love, care, and positivity that she offers her students.

Mrs. Braley believes in her students, and that makes a huge difference in the effort they are each willing to give. I loved listening to the giggles and stories shared by the class during Team meetings last year, and again this year, while still maintaining a focus on learning. It’s evident the students saw themselves as “family”. With so many families being affected by illness, Mrs. Braley’s class was a source of peace, love, stability, and safety. They could talk to her about anything whether it be one-on-one or within the whole class setting. She allowed her students to call her via Teams, even at night, when they were stuck on homework or just needed a listening ear.

The students wanted to do well for her, and they took pride in their efforts. As a result, our son increased his effort and delighted in his step-by-step achievements. He couldn’t wait to tell her about his latest discovery, achievement, or experience. To see his smile and sense of pride increase was a joy to see.

My husband and I firmly believe it takes a village to raise a child, and we are happy to count Mrs. Braley as part of that “village”. Words cannot express the level of gratitude we have for her during these pivotal pandemic years. She will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Megan Burke, UHS Athletic Director

She is at school on weekends when she could be home with her family

Megan has had to go up an beyond keeping our kids safe not just at the field but including all the testing for our high school and 3 junior highs. Keeping equipment clean while the kids play. She is at school on weekends when she could be home with her family.

-Theresa Hewer

Scott Burnham, Roberts Elementary

Mr. Burnham went above and beyond to help our son

BurnhamMr. Burnham is not only an amazing teacher, but a great chess coach as well. My son had the honors of being in his class this past school year. Mr. Burnham went above and beyond to help our son and his obstacles of online learning. Thank you for everything you do, it is greatly appreciated!

-Cheryl Ziarko 

David Bury, Havel Elementary

The ups and downs did not stop us,  and we  came out of the  school year  stronger than ever

Mr. Bury
Mr Bury is the best 6th grade teacher I had! I am so blessed that I had him this year.

He kept us happy during COVID, virtual and in person. He taught us that we can come out of this year strong or come out of this year not learning anything.

We came out of this year stronger than ever because of him. As a student for him in the 2020-21 school year, I was so happy on what I saw. The ups and downs did not stop us, because like I said, we came out of the school year stronger than ever.

Yazin Aljanabi

Annemarie Carabelli and Kelly Bronski, Utica High School

Our lives are forever changed because of them

In August, UHS began work on starting a Student Mental Health Committee. Ms. Carabelli and Ms. Bronski stepped up to be the teacher-leaders behind that work.

UHS CounselorsThey gave of their time freely and provided support and encouragement for a rag-tag group of students who wanted to do good for their school! They accompanied us when we attended the virtual Student Mental Health Summit in the fall. They mentored us as we planned activities for Utica High School including a #UMatter week and put together our Mental Health toolkit for students. They cheered us on as we gained recognition from the community, the district and the state as the year went on. They also let our vices be heard over the topics that we felt were important to address for our peers and community. It was a respect hard to come by between students and teachers- and all of our lives were changed because of it. Their faith and trust in us as student leaders have made our school better and provided us with an incredible experience that will far outlive this year and our time at the U! We could not be more grateful to have such amazing role models and women in our lives.

Their willingness to take in new ideas and improve upon them made this club very fun and successful. Their coordination of the meetings and their helpful behavior made participating in the club a nice lesson for leadership and team work. Even though I was new to Utica High this year, working in the club made me feel welcomed. The club was a very good initiative especially during the year of "uncertainty." I think Mrs. Bronski and Mrs. Carabelli have done a lot to improve the atmosphere of this year and help students cope through the hard times. Their contribution to this club are very important and I think they should be acknowledged for that.

For all the above reasons, we think Mrs. Bronski and Mrs. Carabelli are #UCSChampions.

-Sophia Meguid
- Satchit Kulkarni
-Mary Borus

Nancy Cannava, Switzer Elementary

She keeps the kids engaged in her music class by teaching them about the tempo, rhythms, types of music. She tuned (pun intended) her methodology and teaching style to keep the kids engaged and be successful in a virtual environment. 

-Esaias Pech

Julie Cesaro, Ebeling Elementary and UCS Virtual Academy

My daughter is so sad the school year is over

CasaroMrs. Julie Cesaro was my daughter's 2nd grade teacher in the Virtual Academy. She was so creative and inventive, loving and nurturing, and all-around awesome with the kids.

I'm so grateful for her and the VA for giving my daughter an unforgettable year. She is so sad the school year is over. Great memories and bonds were created and so many lessons learned. 

-Marcy Mangino

Deborah Colburn, Collins Elementary

She is everything we could have asked for and more

ColburnMs. Colburn has created a caring environment virtually, and my daughter has excelled with her guidance.

She has learned to read and is writing multiple sentences, and she loves it. Ms. Colburn has set a high level of expectation for the students while also demonstrating a great deal of patience.

She is everything we could have asked for and more, and she figured out how to be that from a distance. 

-Laura Ihnat

Diana Coles, Shelby Junior High School

I am forever grateful for the heart and love that Mrs. Coles pours into her students 

ColesTwo of my kids have have been blessed with having Mrs. Coles as their English teacher.

My older daughter referred to her as her "other mother" during her time at Shelby. My son really struggled this past marking period with multiple quarantines. He went from an A/B student to failing three classes. On Wednesdays, during student support time, it was Mrs. Coles (who is NOT even one of his teachers this year) who spent her time working with him to keep his tasks organized. He really needed support from someone and she stepped up to help him. I am not sure what would have happened without her support.

I am forever grateful for the heart and love that Mrs. Coles pours into her students and hope that my younger child will also be blessed to have her during her time at Shelby. Thanks you for all you did, Mrs. Coles. Much to your great sadness, they probably won't remember many of the English lessons they learned with you. However, your kindness and generosity will forever remain in their hearts! You will always be a champion in our family!

-Diane Tripi

Amy Cosentino, Graebner Elementary

Kindergarten is such a big year for kids. My daughter is coming out of this year smarter and happier, thanks to her!

Mrs. Cosentino
Mrs. C was absolutely AMAZING with our kids this year! She taught our kids through the virtual academy, and was there for them everyday with a smile on her face.

Kindergarten is such a big year for kids, the first year actually being in a normal classroom. This year, that didn’t happen for so many of us. Thankfully my daughter and so many others got put in Mrs. Cosentino’s class, because they all STILL thrived, learned and had FUN.

My daughter is coming out of this year smarter and happy, thanks to her!

- Katherine Enos

Tracy DeWitte

The students are kinder humans because of her

Mrs. DeWitte cares for her first graders as her own.

DeWitteHer enthusiasm for the students and passion to keep them engaged whether virtual or in-seat has made this challenging year one of hope and resilience. She greets them with a smile (under the mask) and keeps their brains growing daily in writing, math, and science fun with caterpillars.

Most importantly, she values each child. She sends thorough communications to parents and celebrates accomplishments all year long! She is a true hero!

We thank her for always being a constant, loving teacher to all the students. The students are kinder humans because of her, and will soar into second grade with her compassion and work ethic instilled in them. 

-Katie and Andy Taylor 

Lindsey Dunn, Eisenhower High School

Graduation was a joyous day and I could not help but think of Mrs. Dunn and everything she did for us

DunnFrom the beginning of my daughter's sophomore year, Mrs. Dunn has always been there for her.

She has been encouraging and helpful in every way possible to ensure that my daughter was successful throughout her years at Eisenhower High School. She took so much time out of her schedule to talk with me and my daughter many times.

She went above and beyond the call of duty and made sure that my daughter stayed on course and was successful in graduating yesterday. It was a joyous day and I could not help but think of Mrs. Dunn and everything she did for us. She is awesome and deserves recognition!

-Cathy Valenza

Jason Ellis, Beacon Tree Elementary

We are so impressed by his compassion and his knowledge

EllisAfter doing some research, my husband found that it would be better for our son, Matthew, to attend a Utica School.

We decided on Beacon Tree, due to Mr. Ellis’, high regard for all the children and teachers at his school. We had a meeting with him, before we registered our son, Matthew, and we were so impressed by his compassion and knowledge.

Matthew had Mrs. Cusumano for second grade, and then third grade, he had Mrs. Speshock, and Mrs. Lovell. Then, Matthew had a rough time on the computer and going in person because we had several family emergencies. Because I use a cane, Mrs. Cusumano and Mrs. Speshock, got together and would walk Matthew to my car, or make sure he crossed safely in the bus zone, to where I was parked. They were so caring and accommodating to our family.

The last five weeks of school, we switched Matthew to Virtual because my mother in Florida became ill and I had to be away for six weeks. This enabled Matthew, to be in school for a week in Florida. so I could see him and he was the best medicine for my mom! His virtual teacher, Ms. Hill has been phenomenal, and has such patience with all the students, and their questions. She always talks kindly to them, and respectfully.

We can’t wait for Matthew to return to Beacon tree in person next fall! Thanks so much for your time.

-Mr. and Mrs. Saraceno

Corey Eng, Oakbrook Elementary

The true definition of an educator

EngNo matter what challenges this world has thrown at us, Mr. Eng has always been there for his students.

From remote to in person learning, he has guided and supported each and every one of our children and answered all of our questions along the way.

He has definitely helped build confidence in our children. He is a true definition of an educator. 

-Donna Bally

Alyssa Fiantaco, Henry Ford II High School

Breaking Barriers

As a woman working in woodworking, Alyssa Fiantaco is all about breaking down stereotypes.

AlyssaThe Henry Ford II senior has been enrolled in the school’s internationally recognized woodworking program, which she said is a prelude to her starting her own business next year.

Her interest in woodworking began in Bemis Junior High School and has continued through Henry Ford II High School woodworking classes.

Alyssa has been selected to receive the Michigan 2021 Breaking Traditions Merit Award presented by the Michigan Department of Education. The award honors students who overcame obstacles and stereotypes to succeed in career and technical education (CTE) programs.

“Alyssa is a woodworking superstar! She designs and builds amazing, beautiful projects; and, she shows other girls what they are capable of doing. She deserves this award, and I could not be more proud of her.” CTE instructor Chris Davis

Andrea Finkel, Dresden Elementary 

FinkelMrs. Finkel is a #UCSChampion because her dedication to her students and making sure they have the best when they are in her classroom. She loves her students like they are her own children and is selfless when it comes to their best interest.

- Mary Finkel 


Sarah Hana, Plumbrook Elementary

 She is a rockstar and we will be sad to leave her class

HanaMrs. Hana has been an amazing teacher all year! She made switching from virtual to classroom very smooth and also made learning fun and organized when we did have to be virtual. My daughter loves being in her class and loves having her as her teacher! She said she loves just talking with her at recess! These last couple weeks my family has had covid and my daughter had to quarantine as well. She has been so bummed to miss out on her last couple weeks of school and Mrs. Hana has gone above and beyond to make her feel included in everything going on!! She is a rockstar and we will be sad to leave her class!! 

-Shannon Barrells

Riva Hannish, Messmore Elementary
The children feel the love that Mrs.Hannish pours into them every single day!!!!

HannishMrs.Hannish truly LOVES her students!!!!!

I knew this before the pandemic and it has shown 10 times more since the pandemic. My daughter left her classroom last year not feeling sad about what she missed out on but instead feeling confident and loved and ready to move onto the next grade level.

While volunteering in the classroom(pre-pandemic) I overheard a math lesson and thought to myself “this is why my child is so good at multiplication tables. Mrs.Hannish was singing a catchy, goofy, fun song about every single number set.”

The children feel the love that Mrs.Hannish pours into them every single day!!!! Thank Mrs.Hannish for all you’ve given out family!!!!! 

-Megan Simon 

Emily Hawkins, Beacon Tree Elementary

She has high expectations for the children and is always prepared to meet those expectations

HawkinsMrs. Hawkins has done an amazing job this year. Whether the students were learning online or in person, she continued to provide them with the structure and tools to be successful this school year.

She has high expectations for the children and is always prepared to help them meet these expectations. 

My child has been excited to attend class this year because of Mrs. Hawkins.

Jenn Torongo

Alexandar Hughes, Utica Academy for International Studies

Alexander Hughes is someone who has always set expectations high

If your goal is an elected office, why not aspire to the highest position in the country?
If you want to attend your dream college, why not achieve the highest SAT score possible?

Alexander has already succeeded in the latter goal. He, joined one percent of the students nationally, and earned a perfect SAT score. The GLK-UAIS senior will begin at Harvard University on his way to a career in politics and a goal of becoming a future president of the United States.

“I’m very glad I’ve been a UCS student and have benefited from the opportunities here. I know a lot of areas don’t provide these programs or that level of individual attention. My teachers, without exception, have been incredibly dedicated and helpful.”

Carrie Jankowsky

She turned what should have been the hardest year into the best
JankowskyMrs. Jankowsky made what should have been the hardest year of school into the best.

My son managed to thrive during one of the strangest and most difficult school years. Not only in his reading and math but socially and emotionally as well.

I’ll forever be grateful that my son had her as a teacher during the 2020-21 school year. Thanks Mrs. Jankowsky for loving and caring for each one of your students, for making them feel supported during such uncertain times and for always showing up with a smile on your face!

-Bianca Randall

Anne Gower, Beacon Tree Elementary

She was a constant in my son’s life

GowerMrs. Gower is truly an amazing teacher.

She was a constant in my sons life everyday. Always ready to teach, encourage and offer the virtual kids support. I loved being able to hear my son interact with his teacher and peers daily. Mrs. Gower made 5th grade a wonderful learning experience for all the students in her class even though they were not face to face.

She was consistent and always ready to teach new concepts and material to the kids. My son has excelled this year and even made the Honor Roll several times and I know it is all thanks to Mrs. Gower and how she taught the kids. She truly is a great teacher and person.

I really felt that she cared about the learning and well being of every student. Thank you for the time and care you put into making virtual learning successful. 

-Trisha David

Melissa Gronzo, Burr Elementary

Miss Gronzo was a rockstar teaching under the new circumstances. I would give her a medal if I could 

GronzoMiss Gronzo went above and beyond to connect with her students in the virtual setting. She made sure my daughter made connections and friends since she was new to the district. My daughter was sad the year was over and said that Miss Gronzo was the best teacher she has ever had. 

- Renee Rudover

Miss Gronzo was a rockstar teaching under the new circumstances. She made all the kids feel at ease and took time to work with individual students if they were having a hard time. She made the students that went above and beyond feel special and used their talents to help the other students succeed. I would give her a medal if I could. She is a wonderful teacher and was glad to have her teach my son.

-Jennifer Bauman

Jody Kish, Flickinger Elementary 

I was consistently impressed with her passion, patience and gift for teaching! Nothing seemed to throw her off her game


Mrs. Kish is AMAZING!

My son was lucky to be in her 2nd grade class for the 20/21 school year. The year started off rocky and remote due to the pandemic, but Mrs. Kish never skipped a beat!

Being remote allowed me the unique opportunity as a parent to see inside her classroom on a daily basis. I was consistently impressed with her passion, patience and gift for teaching! Nothing seemed to throw her off her game.

When I expressed some concern about my son sitting still online, she listened and helped us work through it. When she was interrupted by kiddos while teaching she was always so patient and kind.

With the ever-changing plans of learning(remote or hybrid) she never stopped teaching or caring. She reached out, communicated with parents every week and was always there if we needed anything.

I’m thrilled that she is looping her class and Daniel will get the opportunity to be in her class again next year. He is beyond excited! She is one of the best and Flickinger & UCS are lucky to have her!

Joel Kaczmarczyk, Utica High School

I grew as an actor, student, leader, and human in that auditorium all thanks to Mr. K.

When most lost hope for a normal year, Mr. Joel Kaczmarczyk (Mr.K, K) stepped up for us students in order to keep the passion for performing alive in each individual.

JoelDue to the strict COVID-19 guidelines restricting gatherings of any groups, myself as well as many other of my fellow thespians started to worry if putting together a show would even be possible at all this past year. But that didn’t stop K. Mr K spent hours searching for and reading scripts that we could’ve possibly produced under the regulations put forth.

After days, even weeks of looking Mr K found the one act play that would not only be produced during a pandemic but would also be his 50th show at Utica, Crafting a Killer. We then went straight into the auditioning process. I had the honor of being assistant director of the play alongside my bestfriend Maria Chesnutt. Mr K was unbelievably helpful and motivated to put on this show one way or another. He lit the spark in every cast member each rehearsal.

Mr K stayed dedicated and motivational over the course of seven months when we originally planned on only two months of work. Mr K never failed to give us a pep talk that got our head in the right place. I could see each person’s face on zoom light up after K was finished speaking. He never gave up on us even when we gave up on ourselves. Mr K was finally able to produce his 50th show with a cast of 13 and a crew of 3.

He has taught us more in that auditorium about life than I have ever learned. I grew as a actor, student, leader, and human in that auditorium all thanks to Mr. K.

-Trinity Lupu

Ruth Klida, Wiley Elementary

My family will always hold a special place in our hearts for all she has done for our children

OKlidaur family was blessed to have had Mrs. Klida as our son's 4th grade teacher a while back, so when our daughter also was placed in her class two years ago for 4th grade, we were thrilled. Then COVID-19 happened. Mrs. Klida went above and beyond to keep her 4th graders involved as we all weathered this new "normal". So, last summer when we discovered she was "looping" with her entire class to 5th grade for 2020-2021, our daughter shouted with joy and we were 100% sure we would get through the crazy school year as seamlessly as possible.

Mrs. Klida is one of the kindest, most loving, patient, involved teachers we have had the great fortune to know. She mailed her students postcards of encouragement while they were learning from home and built up their confidence with engaging and meaningful assignments/projects all while checking in to make sure their mental health was not suffering during the back and forth in-person/remote/quarantine school schedule.

My daughter was unfortunate in that she had to be quarantined this school year, but Mrs. Klida was always there to provide instruction, encouragement, and understanding. Our family will always hold a special place in our heart for her and all she has done for our children.

Thank you to all of the amazing UCS teachers and staff, and especially to Mrs. Klida!

-Debbie Gorlewski

Emily Kostrzeba, Havel Elementary

She turned what we thought would be a challenging school year into something very special

Kostrzeba Mrs. Kostrzeba turned what we thought would be a challenging school year into something very special.

Mrs. Kostrzeba's energy and engaging personality had my daughter excited about each day. Mrs. Kostrzeba started every day making each student feel great about the day and challenged them to do their best.

Mrs. Kostrzeba incorporated activities to keep students engaged, learning, and having fun. We were very lucky to be placed in Mrs. Kostrzeba's class and I appreciate and value all the hard work she put into making our virtual school year one we will remember as a positive and wonderful learning experience.

-Nakia Powell-Thomas


Kadia Kustarz, Utica High School

She's an incredible school leader and the definition of a well-rounded Chieftain!

KustarzKadia Kustarz will graduate Summa Cum Laude as one of our two Top Valedictorians at Utica High School with a 4.18 GPA. She is a UCS Academic Scholar, a multi-sport student athlete who competed in cross-country and bowling, a member of UHS Science Olympiad, a member of National Honor Society, a Member of German National Honor Society, a member of National Art Honor Society, a Gold Key winning photographer, a member of student council, and President of the German (Deutsch) Club.

Kadia represents what we strive all of our UCS and Utica High students to aspire toward. She's an incredible school leader and the definition of a well-rounded Chieftain! Kadia will attend Lawrence Technological University to study Biomedical Engineering in the fall. 

-Linda Kammann

Darlene Marshall, Henry Ford II High School

She never fails to leave a positive impact

MarshallShe loves to engage with her students and never fails to leave a positive impact.

I’ve know her through the last 3 years of high school up until graduation and he has always been there to help me.

She is like the mother of Henry Ford II High School to students and she absolutely deserves to be nominated! 

-Mary Pieterse

Elizabeth McKenna, Messmore Elementary

She is the very definition of patience, compassion and total dedication

McKennaMrs McKenna is the very definition of patience, compassion and total dedication.

I had no doubt that she would exceed our expectations for her classroom in this crazy school year but what I didn’t realize - and what I am so beyond grateful for - is that she extended her compassion and dedication to us struggling parents too.

When we recognized our inability to fill Elizabeth’s shoes from home, she answered even the quietest plea for help again, and again, and again. I cannot count the number of late night, weekend and lunch-hour messages sent and received. She simply made it work. When we thought it couldn’t...when parents felt defeat... she just worked harder.

I truly wish she had a punch clock to show off all her effort. Elizabeth, you are an educator against whom others should be measured. Thank you for helping our kids transition from the carefree days of early elementary to grounded, kind, accountable and organized 3rd and 4th grade students. Thank you for making sure every child retained their love of learning through this pandemic. Thank you for being our teacher!!!!

Raechel Badalamenti 

Sheryl Melling, Plumbrook Elementary and UCS Virtua Academy

She's a Rock Star!

Mrs. Melling has done such a fantastic job during this school year. She is so special and a beautiful teacher inside out. We where so blessed our daughter Lamia has the opportunity to learn from her.

Mrs. MellingMrs. Melling is a rockstar! She has made my daughter's kindergarten year so incredibly special and that is saying a lot considering it was all virtual! She has done such a wonderful job keeping the children engaged over the Ipad. We truly love her so much and will never forget Mrs. Melling.

-Elizabeth Oguri

She is an amazing teacher! The way she gets engaged with kids you can tell she loves her job and goes out of her way to make it fun and easy for her kids n their parents. She has made online schooling during these different circumstances as smooth as she can. My kids love her! 
-Sara Ahsan

Mrs. Melling is a gifted teacher that has taken on virtual teaching as if it’s second nature. She has encouraged her students to practice their basics through provided games, such as Espark and epic!, in addition to classroom time with her. She has not once complained, expressed frustration, or gotten upset this year in front of her students. Technology comes with its disadvantages, but she has made the best of it! I get emotional when I talk about her. The connections she has made with her students and parents is unmatched! She takes time to praise them and their work. She genuinely listens when the kids talk about their weekend or special toy. She loves her students so very much, and it shows! We are eternally grateful for her humble and nurturing ways.
-Leslie Rasmussen

Mrs Melling was able to keep our kindergarten kids interested and provide a loving and yet structured learning environment this entire year. She has been so dedicated and supportive for all the kids and parents who had to figure out so much this year. And she shows up every day with a smile! I will never forget that she taught my kid to read complete sentences BEFORE going into first grade!
-Jo Briguglio

This teacher took on the challenge of virtual kindergarten this year, and she did a wonderful job. Every student has grown so much academically, and as a person. She went above and beyond to give the students a sense of normalcy in a year that was anything but. She also worked very hard to make things special for the kids in her class. In addition to her work in the classroom, she helped foster a wonderful parent community for the class. We will be forever grateful for all of her amazing work this year!

-Lisa Wingerter

Cady Mills, Browning Elementary

Mrs Mills has been my daughter’s special education teacher for the last three years. I’ve known throughout the last three years that she cares greatly about her students and works really hard to teach them.

Throughout the 2020-2021 school year and remote/virtual learning it has absolutely amazed me with the amount of customization she does to get kids interested in learning. Math has always been a subject that my daughter struggles with and has limited interest. Mrs Mills made her math assignments customized based on her current interests.

With any change in my daughter’s interests Mrs Mills updated assignments with the characters from these shows to help gain interest. She sent home math manipulative items such as cut out lipsticks, Pom poms and other items to help grab any attention and interest from my daughter.

It is very obvious that she not only cares about her students learning but about them enjoying it as much as they can. I could go on and on but this is only supposed to be one paragraph so I’ll end by saying that Mrs Mills is a true #UCSChampion! 

-Kelly Kiurski

David Murray, DeKeyser Elementary
When you look up legendary teachers in the dictionary his photograph is there!


Mr Murray always has a positive outlook on life and always so patient with the kids, He is a fantastic educator and always wears a smile on his face! He’s the kind of teacher you wish your child could have every year until graduation! When you look up legendary teachers in the dictionary his photograph is there!

Jennifer Nowakowski, Duncan Elementary

Mrs. Nowakowski helped make this crazy year a little bit easier with her passion for teaching

NowakowskiMrs. Nowakowski found a way to connect with the students in this unprecedented year!

She was great at keeping the parents informed & holding the students accountable to be responsible to bring everything they needed to school each day!

Mrs. Nowakowski helped make this crazy year a little bit easier with her organization & passion for teaching!!

-Renee Jurkiw

Amy O'Brien, Messmore Elementary

She treats her students like they are her own children 

Amy O'Brien

Mrs. O’Brien brings so much joy and excitement to every lesson.

She truly enjoys being around her students and treats them like her own children. The level of compassion, respect and kindness shown by her is unmatched! She motivates students to be their best self.

She shares her love for writing in fun and exciting ways. We feel so blessed to have had our child in her class.

-Renee Reynolds

Jeffrey Olson, UCS Virtual Academy

Thanks for keeping it fun!

OlsonWhen I asked my son who we should nominate, he picked Mr. Olson! He looked forward to Media Center every week because “Mr. Olson always picks fun things for the kids to do.” Thanks for keeping it fun, Mr. Olson! 

-Michelle McMillan

Rick Osmond, Flickinger Elementary

He made a difficult year a memorable and happy one

Mr. OsmondMr. Osmond made a difficult year a memorable and happy one.

From day one I was impressed with his humor and support for his students. His ability to teach the kids remotely was outstanding. He found the balance between teaching and not overwhelming the students with homework.

My older daughter had him as a teacher a few years back and I liked him. This year seeing his teaching close up, his respect and care for his students, his technical capabilities and his flexibility really made me realize what a gift it was for my second child to have him. I truly was and am blown away by his caliper of teaching this year.

He is an asset to the school district and a champion for his students.

-Kim Mudgett

Gerard Pantano, Eppler Junior High School 

From beginning of the school until the end, Mr. Pantano was amazing

PantanoFrom the beginning of the school until the end, Mr. Pantano was amazing.

My daughter broke her foot/ankle 2 weeks into school and he literally worked with us to accommodate her needs. 

-Victoria Lanham

Francesca Przybyla , Duncan Elementary

She provides a rigorous curriculum while showing her students how much she wants them to succeed! She is truly exceptional

PrzybylaMrs. Pyz (Francesca Przybyla) has been such a devoted, loving, thoughtful teacher for all her years of teaching. She takes such a special interest in all her students.

This year, Mrs. Prz went above and beyond with her level of dedication. She personally delivered bags of materials, treats and supplies to every one of her students, TWICE! She is just the sweetest lady who also has high expectations of all her students!

She provided a rigorous curriculum while showing her students how much she wants them to succeed! She is truly exceptional.

-Julie Walters

Krysten Robinson, Dresden Elementary

She took a hard year and made it a great year


Mrs. Robinson has taken a hard year and made it a great year for our third graders.

It didn't matter if the students were on zoom or in the classroom, she would make each student feel important.

When the kids were learning on zoom I was amazed by the patience Mrs. Robinson had every day for the students.

Thank you for being so positive and a great role model for our kids.

-Amanda Korn

 Katelyn Ronse, Wiley Elementary

Remarkable, knowledgeable, and creative

Congratulations to 🌱🌸Mrs.Katelyn Ronse🌸🌱 A most remarkable, knowledgeable, and creative Teacher !

RonseShe has patience and kindness, as a New Mother made a remarkable effort ~ When the Pandemic took over our lives, she had just begun Teaching Her Third Grade Class. She is a positive Teacher who makes Her Students achieve their “ultimate goal“ by praising them and giving them the determination to do the very best they can do to achieve an advantage in their learning skills.

Her sincere Heartfelt praise gives her Students the ability and goals to study harder to achieve the next highest grade, to do their best to succeed. Mrs. Ronse always reinforces better grades with her “positive perspective“ on teaching!!! She is a warm hearted, kind and loving teacher, her personality is always pleasant and that alone makes her a “leader in teaching”. 🌱🌸🌱 Her Students truly Love her as she listens and teaches from her heart and with such positive knowledge.

Her students have been Blessed with 🌱🌸🌱Mrs. Katelyn Ronse during this incredible school year as She kept her “inspiring attitude and cheerfulness“ gaining the trust and love of her students.

We also Thank the following; All of Our Wiley Educators, Our Office Personal, Our Lunch Staff and Distributers of Lunches, Our Bus Drivers, Our Volunteer Personal, Our Special Education Teachers, Our Principal and Maintenance Personal and our Devoted Teachers who took the time to deliver items to our homes to name a few teachers: Mrs. Jennifer Paslean a First Grade Teacher and Mrs. Katelyn Ronse, took their time on a Saturday to deliver to our homes Continued Educational material ~making it possible for Students to have Educational material at our homes ~~~how Very remarkable was this kindness. Thank you both and others who have done the same for their Students. Thank you Mrs. Gross for your after school Garden Club and Art Club!!! How fun for the children!! 

-Mary Bommarito

Our lives are forever better because of our time with her

PierfeliceOne of my favorite authors often refers to teachers as "soul builders" and that is truly who Mrs. Pierfelice is to her students.

Mrs. Pierfelice is a master of her craft, but her work of heart goes so much deeper than curriculum and test scores. Her positive, compassionate, and creative attitude helped make an extremely challenging year not only bearable but truly enjoyable. She has the unique ability to appreciate and highlight the good in every single child. She makes her students feel seen and loved in a way that not many others can.

Two of our children have had the privilege of spending a year with Mrs. Pierfelice, and our lives are forever better because of our time with her. She is a true CHAMPION for all children!

- Kristen Miller

They shine as examples to all students about the power each student has within themselves to elevate their success

BrookeBrooke Budd has exemplified the traits of an AVID Scholar since she first arrived at Utica High School. After several challenges in junior high, Brooke's grades were not a reflection of her true potential.

Over the past three years, she has excelled in the AVID program to learn college readiness skills. She has persevered to overcome her obstacles and raise her GPA dramatically. She has done it all with a positive attitude and a refusal to quit.

Due to her determination, she received the Cameron Semble Memorial Scholarship, created in honor of another AVID student who was lost over the summer.

Brooke and Cameron both were true example of the AVID spirit of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and positivity. They shine as examples to all students about the power each student has within themselves to elevate their success.

Mrs. “P” is unmatched in fostering independence and accountability in each student

Mrs. PMrs. “P” is unmatched in fostering independence and accountability in each student. My daughter aimed to please because she wanted to give back the respect she was being given.

It is a remarkable and extremely effective approach that continued to impress me all year. I also loved to hear how Mrs P pushed for my girl’s best, cheered for her wins and held a whole classroom of hands whenever the growing pains of the tween world hit even a single student!

A+ to MelissaπŸŒŸπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ and Thank You So So So Much!!!

The Kids Love Learning

BercelMrs. Bercel has been amazing with her virtual class of Kindergarteners.

Having kindergarteners is a challenge in itself let alone having to teach them virtually. She teaches them manners and etiquette while showing them kindness and patience. The kids love learning with Mrs. Bercel and singing s

ongs, dancing dances to learn how to sound out words and read sight words. We love Mrs. Bercel

He genuinely cares about every single person in his building, and we feel it.

SuggsMr. Suggs is a #UCSChampion because of the way he has kept every single person (staff, student, parent) feel safe during the last year. He has put mitigation strategies into place at Dresden that make sense, that allows the students and staff to have amazing days, despite it not being normal days. He has lead with an amazing leadership that is like non other I have ever worked for. He genuinely cares about every single person in his building, and we feel it. Thank you Brad for being such an amazing principal!!

-Julia Mulvaine

She is packed with patience and she is an amazing teacher


As a Virtual Academy 3rd Grade Teacher from Wiley Mrs G has been amazing for all of her kids from all of the different schools.

From day one when we picked up our computer at the school she made my daughter, who was nervous about being virtual, feel extremely comfortable. She said at the beginning of the school year to the kids my goal this year is to have you ready for 4th grade. She never missed a beat this year and I can say my daughter is ready.

She is packed with patience and she is an amazing teacher. She always lets the students share anything they have on their mind every day. She has added different spirit day type things on Fridays for fun. Love Mrs G. I can’t say enough good things about her as a teacher to these kids.

-Kristen Frank

Each person is what makes UCS one of the greatest and most successful districts around

StephenUtica Community Schools graduate and paraprofessional Stephen Laskowski wanted to give the school district he loved some energy this year. So he decided around the new year that he would run to every building in Utica Community Schools as a tribute to the people and students in the district he loves. 

“I wanted to share my heart and support to all those involved in the district - teachers, students, all staff members, and parents,” he said. “Each person makes up and has an important role in the UCS family.  Each person is what makes UCS one of the greatest and successful districts around.”

For his efforts, he brought positive attention to the district through media coverage and spoke to a group of junior high school students about the importance of fitness.

We will always remember her giving heart

Sandy Austin is so much more than an administrative assistant.

Sandy AustinIt’s often those people that work ‘behind the scenes’ that are SO MUCH MORE than just someone behind a desk. Sandy has been an amazing support the last couple of years. She offered help and guidance when my son was graduating last year and we will always remember her giving heart.

This year she has been there along the way to ease some IN PERSON anxiety my daughter has been experiencing. If I sent an email or jingled her she was there to assist. She offered many options to keep her in school and to calm her nerves.A couple of times she brought her to the clinic, but recently she took the time to sit with my daughter, chat, have a snack and even play some music while my daughter took a deep breath so she could return to class.

No matter how busy she is...and we know she is a busy gal...she stops what she is doing to make the student a priority. Sandy has a calming demeanor and a friendly smile ALWAYS! She is definitely a UCS CHAMPION. 

-Karen Bartolotta 

I'm so thankful to have her in our lives.

PhilipsThe time and dedication she has shown my children has been phenomenal. She just gets them and has so much patience.

She has her way of making learning fun for the kids. I hear her on virtual calls with my kids and I can't help but think that my kids are so lucky to have Mrs.Phillips and I am so thankful to have her in our lives. Thank you for all you do Mrs.Phillips πŸ€—πŸ€— You definitely have made learning less challenging and more understanding.

-Diane Malaj


She was always there to listen and motivate the kids during an incredibly challenging time

This year has brought intense challenges for everyone, and more so for the kids and their amazing teachers teaching and learning to navigate school virtually. Now imagine teaching gym to middle schoolers thru a pandemic!

Erin ChambersMy son Ben was placed into Erin Chambers gym class and while most would have thought it would be an easy A class, a slack off class Mrs. chambers went above and beyond to create fun and engaging classes. Anything from working in groups to make a virtual dodge ball game to yoga, to 20 minute walks (by parent comfort, my son was able to walk around the neighborhood). She encouraged the kids to exercise with what they had available in the home to use as weights and equipment.

ways kind, always there to listen and motivate the kids during an incredibly trying time. She also has sent emails to parents not just about gym but about important upcoming dates.

Every teacher this year has done a fantastic job thru the unknown, but the kindness, understanding. Unique, and downright cool way Mrs. chambers ran her gym class was a high point for this year. Thank you Mrs, Chambers for making gym such a fun class even virtually! I can’t imagine how fun your classes are in person!!! 

-Amy Brinkman


Michele Santiago, Messmore Elementary

She is truly a whole-child educator

SantiagoMrs. Santiago is a wonderful teacher!

She expertly navigated the virtual environment and created a classroom culture for students on Microsoft Teams!

We loved having her in our home daily and getting to first hand experience our son's education.

She was so in tune with not only the educational needs of her students, but also the emotional needs they had. She is truly a whole-child educator.

Claire Sarzynski

Stacy Smale,Utica High School

If I had to relive this life again I would make sure she was my teacher

SmaleMrs. Smale (Smale) was my yearbook teacher for all three years at Utica High School. Being in her class made me want to take another class she teaches, just so she would be my teacher for longer. She genuinely cares for each and every one of her students.

She has only been my teacher for yearbook, so I can not speak for her other subjects but even after the yearbook was completed in March of 2020 (when school was "cancelled" for the rest of the school year) we continued to have meetings to talk about anything that was going on. She made sure to check up on us students. Even if we were Quarantined in the 2020-2021 school year Smale made sure to include us in the conversations- some teachers did not.

Her class room is really inclusive for everyone and has a really nice and relaxing vibe. She plays music over the speakers all hour long, and during the winter she will play a cozy fireplace video for us to enjoy. This past year was really tough on us yearbook students, but more so on Smale. She would stay up late to edit and design stuff for the yearbook. There was even some instances where I found out she was skipping out on going Up North just to work on it. We were really behind on the yearbook at one point and we were told that if we had gotten it done by Midnight on a certain day we would get the books in time. Luckily that day was a Wednesday, so we were able to work on it for most of the day. That day Mrs. Smale stayed on Teams with me for 16 hours as we worked on getting the book completed. She made sure I was taking breaks and she would be there if I had any questions.

Mrs. Smale was one of the best teachers I have ever had and if I had to relive this life again I would absolutely make sure I had a class with her as my teacher. 

-Cassidy Eskew

Charlene Sonnenberg, Messmore Elementary

She approaches teaching with unmatched enthusiasm and passion

SonnenbergMrs. Sonnenberg is absolutely a UCS champion! She approaches teaching with unmatched enthusiasm and passion.

Her go-with-the-flow-attitude, attention to detail, and frequent communication carried us through this crazy year.

We are so thankful our child got to encounter such a bright, caring and energetic person. She made school exciting and fun, while giving each student the skills they needed to excel. She is amazing!

-Shauna Greib

Wendy Stemmerich, Eisenhower High School

She has been a shining light throughout this hard year
StemmerichMs. Stemmerich, or as we call her “Stem”, has been a shining light throughout this hard year.
Her dedication and love for each student is apparent in her work. She makes sure to effectively communicate with each parent and student.

As the supervisor of the GSA club, Ms. Stem makes LGBTQ+ students feel not only accepted, but welcomed and cherished.

I will always remember what an amazing teacher and person she is.

-Alaina Spratt

Juliana Tegeltija, Collins Elementary

You know she is a great teacher when your child asks if she can be his teacher for the next 20 years


During this crazy school year, Mrs. Tegeltija did a fantastic job teaching her kindergarteners.

She had a lot of patience as she helped her students (and parents) navigate team meetings and assignments on the ipads. Her lessons were engaging and she always knew when her students needed a break to let the wiggles out.

You know she is a great teacher when your child says, "I want Mrs. Tegeltija to be my teacher for the next 20 years!"

Bernadette Littlefield

Kristi Tepper, Havel Elementary

She loves each and all of her Hawks and genuinely cares about them

TepperThe second Mrs. Tepper became principal at Havel was the instant I knew my children were home. Prior to the pandemic Mrs. Tepper led her team of teachers and her “kiddos” with pride, encouragement and positivity.

When the Pandemic hit last March, that did not change. We did, however, see a different side of Mrs. Tepper. Although it has always been there, the parents got the chance to view Mrs. Tepper in a different light. Her love for her Havel community showed as her emotions spilled out in her video Hawk Weekly newsletters.

She loves each and all of her Hawks and genuinely cares about them. Mrs. Tepper always goes above and beyond; she always hugs her hawks, has dyed her hair, and has even eaten a bug to show her Havel Pride! Proud I have gotten the chance to meet such an incredible human being and leader in our district!

-Kristen Stinson

Because she goes above and beyond for the whole school staff included. She’s fun and energetic and makes it where the kids love school and want to be there.

She’s the principal that gets on the roof and tosses water balloons at the kids, dresses up in funny costumes and walks the halls. Looses fundraiser bets and gladly goes from blond to green. Eats bugs and so much more. She’s dances around the lunch room getting all the kids to smile and laugh.

She treats her staff like there her siblings and the children like they are hers. She’s perfect for this.

-Debbie Vasquez

Mathew Tepper, Roberts Elementary

He makes every student feel special
Mathew TepperMr.Tepper is an exceptional Teacher. He makes each student feel special. He has gone above and beyond to provide a good environment for all students in this very non traditional school year.

He always had a smile and a gentle word for those in need.

-Brenda Sniw

Christina Witek, Messmore Elementary

Our kids didn't miss a beat

WitekKind, patient, and understanding are just a few words to describe Mrs.Witek.
During this pandemic year, where we were online and in person, I can say without a doubt that because of the teacher she is, our son didn’t miss a beat. Listening to her teach online always put a smile on my face.

We are forever grateful that we had Mrs.Witek during this extra challenging year. I felt comfortable to go to her with any questions and she was an excellent communicator! We can’t say enough about her.

Utica is lucky to have her!

-Elisabetta Stupera

Setting a Peaceful and Patient Tone from Day One

Mrs. Yax"One word that strongly comes to mind this past year that describes Mrs. Yax is “patience.”

In a year full of change, Mrs. Yax has continuously shown her patience since day one at device pick up and throughout the school year.

With remote learning she always made sure she set a calm and peaceful tone with her Kindergartners. Whether it was letting every child have the opportunity to share their stories or by asking how every child felt every single day, her peacefulness and patience with every child didn’t go unnoticed."

-Danielle Ranella

Giving Students a Stage to Express What They are Facing

“Mr. Wells is the best!”

WellsThis is what I heard my daughter say all year. When we were fully virtual I would listen at the top of the stairs and hear Mr. Wells take the first few minutes of class to answer any questions or settle anxiety for anyone who was in Pandemic uncertainty. This to me was PRICELESS.

The kids had so many unknowns they were facing that this gave them a platform to speak without judgment and know that Mr. Wells felt similar uncertainty. This class was also the one where I would hear my daughter laugh...a real laugh. We can’t tell you the JOY that brought us knowing she was truly enjoying part of her day!

And as far as Drama Club goes...HE MADE IT HAPPEN. Was it easy? No, Was it perfect in his eyes? No...But did it give these kids an experience they will never forget...ABSOLUTELY, YES!!!! I could go on and on, but bottom line KUDOS TO MR. WELLS..a fantastic teacher and mentor. We are FOREVER GRATEFUL!

-Karen Bartolotta

Caring for Our Community

Stevenson Feeding

Facing the pandemic on March 13, 2021, Utica Community Schools went into action converting from in-person to remote learning. UCS Food and Nutrition Services was no exception.

In three short days, a food distribution plan utilizing 14 distribution sites, with complete COVID-19 protocols, was up and running. Every community child 18 and under, regardless of school or if they
qualified for food assistance, could receive healthy meals at no charge.

As the pandemic continued, UCS food service workers distributed meals in 90 degree heat or in blinding rainstorms. Over 2.2 million meals were served by a team of heroes who don’t ride horses or
wear capes – but who proudly wear aprons and ride in vans.

“There is a direct link between learning and nutrition. UCS food service workers kept the mission alive. They did extraordinary work providing nutritious meals to keep students learning.”
Superintendent Robert Monroe