Teachers of the Year
By Marie Dunn-Harris
As a new school year begins with fresh new supplies, classmates and teachers, some BGSU alumni are going back to school with the distinction of being named among the best educators in the nation.
Cheryl Montag, '85, was chosen as Ohio's 2013 National Distinguished Principal. She was selected after a statewide search conducted by the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators. The committee that chose her is made up of school leaders who have won the award in the past.
"I was very humbled and honored to receive this award. I love what I do as a principal," she said. "This award is special because I was nominated by fellow administrators. It's a great testament to all administrators."
Montag credits her success to Bowling Green State University, where she received a bachelor of science degree. One of her fondest memories is serving as a student assistant for the dean of the College of Education and Human Development. That valuable experience contributed to her being hired as a teacher right after graduation. The Kings Local School District recruited her for a first-grade teaching position at J.F. Burns Elementary, where she is now the principal.
"I really appreciate all the professors and the employees of BGSU for their support and getting us prepared for going into the teaching field because they did an excellent job," she said.
It's evident why Montag enjoys what she does. Not only has she been an educator for 22 years, but she also challenges herself to remember all of her students' names by studying the yearbooks.
"I love the energy our children give to us as educators. It's not work for me, it's a joy to be with them," she said.
"I really appreciate all the professors and the employees of BGSU for their support and getting us prepared for going into the teaching field because they did an excellent job"In Wamego, Kan., Kelsey Feyes, '10, was named Special Educator of the Year by the Kansas Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). She is a graduate of the College of Education and Human Development's Intervention Specialist Licensure and master's program. The principal at West Elementary School nominated her for the award.
"It was a huge honor to be nominated because I'm such a young teacher," she said. "I've put a lot of time, energy, and hard work into my job and it was really rewarding to be recognized and see the difference it made in the kids."
Feyes runs what she calls a unique classroom. Because she works with students who have intensive needs, she developed an individual education plan for each of them. She put students who have academic challenges but good behavior under a structured teaching plan, while implementing a behavior plan for students who need help in that area.
Recalling her time at BGSU, Feyes credits her professors and her graduate assistantship, which allowed her to participate in several different programs on campus. She offers this advice to current students studying education: "Just take every opportunity that you can and get into the schools to work with kids."
Since winning this award, Feyes moved to Omaha, Neb., where she is teaching special education in the Miller school district. Her husband, also a BGSU graduate, teaches music.
Another teacher, Todd Schreiber, '87, was chosen as the Michigan School Vocal Music Association's (MSVMA) 2013 Michigan State Music Teacher of the year. He currently serves as the K-12 vocal music instructor and theater director at Whiteford Agricultural Schools.
Schreiber received his bachelor's degree in music education from BGSU. He was involved in Men's Chorus, A Cappella Choir and Marching Band.
When asked what he would tell current students, he said, "You have to love it, you have to love to do it and you have to do it by being yourself." It's obvious that Schreiber lives by that advice. He has been teaching for 25 years.
When asked about this award, Schreiber was very humbled, and even compared himself to the moment actress Sally Field had when she won her Oscar in 1984.
"The other finalists are like the Meryl Streeps and Jack Nicholsons," he said. "I felt like Sally Field, thinking they really, really like me! I've always been so inspired and impressed by the careers these people had and thought, what an honor. It blows my mind, it really does."
Schreiber has a long list of accomplishments and spends most of his time in music-related activities, including the Canterbury Singers, which tours throughout Europe. He also serves as the District 12 co-manager for the MSVMA, is a vocalist and pianist, participates in community theater and directed the BGSU summer musical camp for 13 years. But it's teaching music that is the most rewarding for him.
"I've had a lot of kids go on to state honors choirs; we're competing with schools of all sizes. I just love seeing them succeed and smile when they're moved by music," he said.
Schreiber received his award in January and made his teacher of the year speech at a summer workshop in August. Montag will be honored in Washington, D.C., in October with fellow award recipients from around the country. Feyes was recognized in April at the National CEC Expo Awards Ceremony in San Antonio, Texas.