Now more than ever, we know that students often need more than just teaching from their teachers. Lakewood High Spanish teacher Matt Heslep is one of those educators for whom this is second nature- as he is always willing to help a student in need and to be a support for any colleague as well.
“(Matt) helps coach students through difficult times, including one student who was in tears last week,” said Heslep's nominator, fellow Spanish teacher Erin Costello. “He frequently answers questions I have about planning or grading, even though they don't pertain to a class that he teaches.“
Heslep, who joined the District in 2004, believes reaching out to students and colleagues is an essential part of his job.
“Teaching is a career where there are always opportunities to extend yourself to help other people,” says Heslep.
Besides being a support for the students in class and those in the Chess and Travel clubs he advises, Heslep has taken on the extra role this year. He is acting as an informal liaison with families of Spanish-speaking English Learners that are new to our district. Heslep has been known to periodically check in with students during the school day.
Heslep credits the school culture at LHS for inspiring him to reach beyond his classroom to contribute to his building. “I love teaching at LHS because so many teachers extend themselves,” he says. Heslep is part of a group of teachers who often attend students’ extracurricular events together to show their support.
For Erin Costello, who is one of the newer teachers at LHS, Heslep is a great role model. ”Matt always … is willing to share his insight and experience,” says Costello. “Overall, Matt contributes to a school culture of problem-solving, communication, and collaboration.”
Lincoln Elementary paraprofessional Karen Levis is a bright light in everyone’s day at her building, but particularly for the fifth grade students and her classroom colleagues. In what has often been a stressful time for both teachers and students, Levis' upbeat personality, kindness and humor stand out.
“Her positivity and gentle demeanor keeps our entire fifth grade team - students and staff - moving forward with each new school day,” says teacher Kate Bunsey, one of Levis' nominators.
As a mom of three adult children who are all LHS graduates and someone who has worked with children most of her career, Levis knows instinctively when a student might need some guidance and encouragement.
“I always have my antenna up seeing who needs someone just to sit next to them or help them focus,” Levis says.
Her background as an education major and parochial school elementary teacher makes Levis a valuable resource for her colleagues as well.
“Karen is always assisting in making assignments manageable for students with special needs with the goal of increasing their independence and self-confidence,” said another of Levis' nominators, intervention specialist Mandy Fleming, who also works with Levis to guide the “Lincoln Leaders” service club. “She is a shining star at Lincoln and a remarkable representation of Lakewood City Schools.”
Thanks you so much Karen, for that you day to brighten the lives our staff and students at Lincoln