Two Pewaukee Lake Elementary School teachers are recipients of the 2017 Herb Kohl Foundation awards for students, teachers and principals.
Ellen Vermillion, who teaches 4-year-old kindergarten, and Amy Eide, who teaches second grade, will each receive a $3,000 award, totaling $6,000 given to their school. They will be honored by Herb Kohl at a luncheon April 8, according to a news release.
Vermillion said her teaching philosophy centers on instilling a love of learning in students by focusing on the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of each student. She has been an integral part of the 4K program since helping start it in 2007. Vermillion also created a physical education program for 4K students, and recently, along with teacher Karen Maderski, received a Kiwanis grant to promote math learning by providing math backpacks for children to take home.
Vermillion is a proponent of the Readers Writers Workshop, and helped develop models of that program for 4K students. Vermillion also helps with new teachers in the mentoring program and is part of the Pathways to Teaching program that helps involve high school students who are interested in education to come into her classroom. Vermillion volunteers at the Donna Lexa Center and Waukesha Food Pantry.
Eide thinks every child in her class deserves a safe, caring and stimulating environment in which to grow emotionally, socially, academically and physically. She describes herself as a guide for early elementary students, providing them with flexible learning spaces. She also encourages them to self-reflect and take ownership of the learning process, setting goals and reporting their progress through a digital portfolio. Eide adjusts the curriculum for each student based on their skill level.
Eide also volunteers with children in Milwaukee, coordinating an outreach program for the last eight years where children can be tutored. She moved to the apartment complex where the program is run to better serve those children. She also runs a weekly kids club in her local church neighborhood to serve children in lower-income housing areas.
Eide's future goals include obtaining a master’s degree and additional training in Readers Writers Workshop. Another goal is to create a mini makerspace for more hands-on learning. Some students require constant movement to better focus on their learning. To facilitate this, she would like to have desks with pedals and standing desks with sway bars.
In addition to teachers, the Herb Kohl Education Foundation annually chooses 16 principals and 207 graduating high school seniors for recognition and awards. Pewaukee High School senior Callie Bednarek is a 2017 Herb Kohl Excellence Scholarship recipient.
At school, Bednarek is a co-section leader for percussion and teaches new percussionists how to play and perform marching music. She is also a member of student senate and participates in community decorating for homecoming. Bednarek helped organize a shoe drive last spring.
She has also been a leader in Girl Scouts at summer camps, and as an associate trainer at Panera, responsible for training new employees. Bednarek volunteers at Waukesha Memorial Hospital's Emergency Department and at an elementary classroom at Montessori School of Waukesha.