Celebrate Education Grants More Than $65,000 to Local Educators

On March 13, 2023, nearly 200 people joined in celebration of our local educators, volunteers and administrators at the annual Celebrate Education event. Held at the Oshkosh Convention Center, the event awarded more than $65,000 in grants to exceptional educators for innovative programs and projects in the classroom, on the field, and after school. Awards were also presented to community members that have a passion for education and leadership.

This year’s Celebrate Education event was sponsored by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, Mid-Morning Kiwanis Club of Oshkosh, UWO College of Education and Human Services, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, Oshkosh Area School District Education Foundation, Edward and Belle Rudoy Endowment Fund, and Oshkosh Southwest Rotary.


Congratulations to the 2023 Celebrate Education winners!



  • Ted Neitzke, CESA 6


  • Bishop Daniel John Felton


  • Don Allen, Carl Traeger Middle School
  • Benjamin Birr, Valley Christian Middle School
  • Sara Calderon, Valley Christian Middle School
  • Audrey Conley, Lourdes Academy Elementary School
  • Courtney Harvancik, Valley Christian Middle School
  • Stacey Jahns, Perry Tipler Middle School
  • Gaby Janz, Perry Tipler Middle School
  • Christine Koehler, Carl Traeger Middle School
  • Alex Seidel, South Park Middle School


  • South Park Middle School


  • Haley Birr, Valley Christian School
    • Boundless Learning: To purchase a reading intervention kit for struggling elementary readers, to be able to provide sequential multisensory instruction to struggling readers in the classroom.
  • William Brydon, Oshkosh West High School
    • Books to Enhance Global Empathy and Knowledge: To purchase books that have a more diverse array of world literature for the Academy for Global Studies to enhance their understanding of other people and foster more empathy and to help them become more proficient readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers.
  • Sara Calderon, Valley Christian School
    • Get Electric! To purchase materials needed to upgrade the STEM and science classes in the realm of electricity, to provide students with a safe experience with how electrical currents flow in engines, batteries, home and vehicle circuits and electromagnetism.
  • Amanda Campos, Valley Christian School
    • Get In-S.P.I.R.E.-ed! To purchase leveled reading books for the first-grade classroom, to help work on the basic building blocks of a life-long reader.   
  • Amber Clark, Valley Christian School
    • The K&V Library: To purchase an array of bouncy bands, wiggly cushions, therapy balls, lap bags, and wobble seats to develop a “library” of Kinesthetic and Vestibular needs-based items that teachers can check out for their struggling students.
  • Phil Clayton, Valley Christian School
    • My Mental Health Toolbox: To purchase supplies such as fidgets, lap weights, weighted blankets and other tools that are great materials to help with sensory-sensitive kids in managing their mental health.        
  • Karen Coats, Lourdes Academy Elementary School
    • Aquaponics and Relaxation: To purchase an aquaponics aquarium and supplies to grow vegetables and reading furniture for the 3rd grade classes so they can enjoy reading while watching the fish swim and plants grow.
  • Audrey Conley, Lourdes Academy Elementary School
    • Science Fiction to Science Fact: Using Literacy to Enliven Physics and Astronomy: To purchase 64 copies of The Martian and two posters of the surface of Mars, and a periodic table of the elements chart.
  • Robin Goedderz, Oaklawn Elementary School
    • Fantastic Fruit Trees for our Sunlit Cafeteria: To purchase fruit trees and supplies to grow fruit trees in the cafeteria to transform the space into a more inspiring educational space for students.
  • Justin Hable, Oshkosh West High School         
    • West is B.E.S.T. (Bringing Exceptional Students Together): To invest in a Leadership Training Program workshop and materials for Junior and Senior student mentors to attend to develop their leadership skills.
  • Teresa Hass, Valley Christian School
    • Lights, Table, Action! To purchase a wooden preschool light table and accessories to offer a new and highly interactive learning component for the 4K students.
  • Kaelee Heideman, Carl Traeger Elementary School
    • Nurturing Master Gardeners: To purchase plants for each classroom to have so they can learn the proper care of plants while nurturing a living thing.
  • Becca Jepson, Valley Christian School
    • Fantastic Help for my Flipped Classroom: To purchase 24 Wacom tablets for the classroom, to assist students in achieving greater success and improvements in their math skills.
  • Stephanie Jost, Valley Christian School
    • Learning Electricity is a Snap! To purchase a variety of Snap Circuit electricity sets to help supplement science curriculum for more hands-on learning experience.
  • Angie Kese, Jefferson Elementary School
    • Books, Books, Books, Check Me Out! To purchase clear storage bins and cardboard bins to reorganize books in the library to help students find books easier and foster their love of reading.
  • Kimberly Korotka, Valley Christian School
    • Lego “Electronics”: To purchase Lego building sets and a Lego Spike Prime building set to add to the Lego STEM program.
  • Keith Koslowski, Oshkosh North High School
    • Diverse Literary Options In The Classroom: To purchase books for English Classroom to give the students more diverse options of in class books to read, and to foster the love of reading books.
  • Leigh Marmes, Oshkosh Area School District
    • Weather and Climate Pocket Lab: To purchase data collection tools to provide hands on, project-based learning opportunities for on-line students to meet, gather data, collaborate, and observe and analyze real time weather and climate data.
  • Adeline Miller, Valley Christian School
    • Timeless Tales and Life Lessons – Freshmen English Library Book: To purchase a variety of books to establish a free classroom library for students to encourage expanding their understanding of the world and humanity.
  • LeeAnn Morrill, Oshkosh West High School
    • Using Partnerships to Empower Academics, Electives and Extracurriculars with the LMC: To purchase materials to offer student groups or clubs additional outlets and options to pursue their passions by partnering with the LMC to create a month-long project to promote their group’s purpose or goals, or just to be informative.
  • Brooke Neese, Lourdes Academy Elementary School
    • Flexible Seating and Reading Materials: To purchase flexible seating and a variety of age-appropriate leveled books for students to reach their reading goals.
  • Jennifer Olivares, Oshkosh West High School
    • Children’s Literature to Teach Challenge and Change in the Spanish-Speaking World: To purchase children’s books in Spanish that touch on a variety of social issues in the Spanish-speaking world. 
  • Josh Peel, Valley Christian School
    • Tools for My Trade! To purchase multiple T1-84 calculators to lend to students who are of lower income and cannot afford to purchase a calculator that is needed for students to be able to take AP Math courses. 
  • Jessica Reich, Valley Christian School
    • Australia! To purchase supplies and materials for students to have a safe place for self-regulation. By providing an “Australia”, students will have a safe place to self-decompress and still get that face-to-face connection.
  • Alyssa Rumlow, Jefferson Elementary School
    • Decodable Texts for Aspiring Readers! To purchase high interest decodable texts for a lending library that will be accessible for all students.
  • Julie Runde, Carl Traeger Elementary School
    • Emergent Writing Toolkit: To purchase materials such as paddle white boards, magnetic white boards, boogie boards, storage materials and dry erase markers to provide classroom teachers K-2 and students with a creative variety of writing tools to engage more students in the independent learning practice that takes place during interactive writing.
  • Heather Schilling, Oshkosh West High School
    • Nursing Assistant Scrubs (Nursing Assistant Training – FVTC): To purchase 5 – $100 gift certificates from The Uniform Shop for Nursing Assistance students who have financial difficulties in purchasing their required scrubs that need to be worn during their lab and clinical experience.
  • Andrew Sell, Valley Christian School
    • Building Critical Thinking Skills through Games and Puzzling Adventures in Computer Education: To enhance computer education by purchasing hands-on learning tools such as Wedgit building blocks, educational materials for terminology – Coggy Logic Puzzles and Lego Engineering, The Mind card game and Silver and Gold board game to improve students’ hand-eye coordination, critical thinking, and teamwork.
  • Stacy Smith, Lourdes Academy Middle School
    • Tchoukball: To purchase Tchoukball for the Physical Education Department. Tchoukball aligns with SHAPE America National Standards for Physical Education and is a great game for encouraging teamwork, accuracy, and anticipation.
  • Michelle Sorenson, Lourdes Academy Middle School
    • A Knight at the Movies: To purchase multiple books, or collections, of film music to our library that allow for flexible instrumentation and groupings to provide students the opportunity to explore film music as soloists and in small chamber music ensembles and will culminate in a recital performance of that music.
  • Kathleen Stephany, South Park Middle School
    • South Park Engaging Students: To purchase materials to implement activity time on Friday afternoons for all classrooms for teachers to run various “interest sessions” in their classrooms for the students.
  • Ryan Stiemsma, Lourdes Academy Elementary School
    • Maps, Maps, and More Maps! To purchase a variety of political relief pull-down maps to assist in broadening the students’ knowledge of world geography and history.


  • Danae Deppiesse, Jacob Shapiro STEM Academy
    • Vertical Wipebooks to Increase Student Thinking in Mathematics Classrooms: To purchase Vertical Wipebooks to increase student engagement in Thinking Mathematics classroom at Shapiro STEM Academy.
  • Abby Goetz, Webster Stanley Elementary
    • Creativity & Opportunity: A MakerSpace Project: To purchase MakerSpace materials centered around STEM activities to enrich students’ learning experiences at school.
  • Katie Lairson, Read Elementary School
    • ESOL Foundations – Newcomer Class: To purchase materials to create a play-based learning environment that meets the academic and social emotional needs of students with refugee background who are learning English as a second language.
  • Donna Overbo, Oshkosh Area School District
    • Calm Your Way Through the Day! YOU GOT THIS!  To purchase a library of materials to be used by students and staff throughout 5 elementary schools in the district. These materials will be games, calming tools, and sensory items to teach children how to self-regulate, cooperate with peers, manage time, and solve problems in the classroom.
  • Michelle Smithson, Vel Phillips Middle School
    • Vel’s Caring Closet: To purchase materials to help organize basic needs supplies for students and families in each classroom and purchase basic needs supplies.
  • Liz VanHeuklon, Carl Traeger Elementary School
    • Light Tables in Kindergarten! Bringing Creativity through Building, Science, Math, and Sensory Play: To purchase two light tables for the kindergarten classrooms, as well as some sensory supplies to be used for creative play, or for students who need additional support to help calm themselves when they are feeling dysregulated.
  • Courtney Willert, Roosevelt Elementary School
    • Building Math Thinking Classrooms: To purchase five vertical whiteboards called Wipebook Flipcharts to be shared between two fifth grade classrooms to support building mathematical thinking through collaborative randomized group work in support of the district adopted K-5 math curriculum Bridges.

Oshkosh Area School District Career and Technical Education Integrated Teaching AWARDS:

  • Kayleigh May and Melanie Wroblewski, Carl Traeger Middle School
  • Kim Pruss and Heather Rankin, Oshkosh North High School       
  • Robyn Badtke and Jen Olivares, Oshkosh West High School
  • Julie Hietpas and Kel Wayne, Oshkosh West High School         
  • Jason Jischke and Jennifer Turner, South Park Middle School 

UW Oshkosh COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES OuTstanding Elementary Teacher awards:

  • Samantha Blazel, Oaklawn Elementary School
  • Kris Brey, Valley Christian Elementary School
  • Brooke Lepper, Carl Traeger Elementary School
  • Tara Perry, Oakwood Elementary School


Visit our Celebrate Education page to learn more about this great event and to see videos from past grant recipients.


2023 Committees

Celebrate Education Planning Committee

Julie Davids
Theresa Duren
Cheryl Fowler
Linda Haling
Siri Pollnow
Jody Ruark
Wendy Schwalbe

Celebrate Education Grant Committee

Mike Crowe
Megan Dalsing
Theresa Duren
Colleen Harvot
Courtney Schroeder
Karley Schwalbe
Wendy Schwalbe
Diane Penzenstadler
Lisa Voss

Rudoy Middle School Outstanding Teacher Award Committee

Shirley Brabender-Mattox
Kay Kuenzl-Stenerson
Sarah Mathewson
Ruth Vorpahl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *