$250 cash prizes go to Thank a Teacher, Making a Difference award winners to recognize excellence in instruction, employees who make a positive impact

PHOTO COURTESY: LESLIE ROBINETTE - Gladstone teachers Kaitlin Gillies, Kris Schuberg and Mara Asmus were recognized as outstanding teachers in the Gladstone District. The Gladstone School District launched the new school year by celebrating the accomplishments of outstanding teachers and staff through two award programs.

PHOTO COURTESY: LESLIE ROBINETTE - The Gladstone School District rewarded staff members, including technology specialist Jo Strong and cook Linda Daniels, with cash awards. The Thank a Teacher Award is a $250 cash prize recognizing excellence in instruction, school leadership and contributions to school success. These awards are funded by an endowment created by retired principal Dick Baker in 2005:

1. Kaitlin Gillies is a fourth-grade teacher at John Wetten Elementary known for making instruction engaging and effective. She serves as a leader of the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program, a bargaining representative and a Professional Learning Community leader.

2. Kris Schuberg is an English teacher at Gladstone High School who excels at teaching writing and giving freshmen the skills to succeed in high school. She recently was a founder of the district's new teacher mentor program and now serves as co-president of the Gladstone Teaching Association.

3. Mara Asmus is a learning specialist at Kraxberger Middle School whose positivity and perseverance make her a valued champion for kids. This summer she left her mark on her school's new Student Wellness Center by creating colorful murals inspired by her students.

The Making a Difference Award is a $250 cash prize to classified employees who make a positive impact on students, colleagues, their school and the community. An anonymous donor funded these awards:

1. Linda Daniels has been a cook at John Wetten Elementary since 2000 sought out by staff for a hug, a laugh or a quick story between her hardworking shifts. Students count on her kind words and gentle approach. She also served the community for a few years as a volunteer at the Gladstone Food Pantry, sharing recipe ideas and nutrition information.

2. Jo Strong has served Gladstone schools as a technology specialist since 2002. Her collaborative spirit enables her to make work fun, and she's always willing to find solutions to technology problems big and small.

3. Tressa Aplanap is the head custodian at Kraxberger Middle School. A 20-year district employee, she is known not only for caring for the school building but for connecting with students. Kids connect with her, love her and confide in her.

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