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Staff, Students Recognized for Demonstrating “Big Rocks”

Jesse Tomkins, special education teacher at PEAK Education Center, receives an award during Fantastic 49 April 28.

Employees and students across D49 are committed to our “big rocks,” the most important initiatives across the district. Two of D49’s big rocks, Valuing All People and Offering Exceptional Choices, were the focus of the Fantastic 49 celebration April 28 when four staff members and two students were honored by leaders and the board of education.

The board learned about the agility of Janea Smith, nutrition services manager at Inspiration View Elementary. Throughout this challenging school year, Smith has changed the lunch schedule multiple times. “Each time she responds beautifully with a positive attitude and a ‘what is best for students’ approach,” said Pam Holloman, assistant principal. “The attitude and willingness enable us to serve our students’ learning needs.”

Jesse Tomkins, special education teacher at PEAK Education Center, was celebrated for his creative work in organizing a virtual meeting with an author as part of a literary lesson. “Jesse reached out to the author on social media sharing photos of the students’ project,” explained Ashley Schmid, paraprofessional. “The Zoom call was a unique experience that left both staff and students encouraged to grow from difficult experiences in life and pursue passions.”

The construction program at Patriot High School was highlighted as an exceptional choice for learning. Jim Baumann, construction teacher, first honored Aidan Kimes, junior in the program. “Aidan is a wonderful student … he has challenges, but he doesn’t let that stop him,” said Baumann. Aidan shared his thanks for D49 staff members. “I would like to thank Grace Ferguson for organizing the Boots on the Ground program. It gave me a good idea of what career path I want to follow. I also want to thank Mr. Baumann for the excellent classes.”

Baumann also recognized Devon Owen, sophomore in the construction program. “Devon is one of those students who keeps you on your toes … it’s a lot of fun.” Devon had many positive comments to share about the program. “The construction program is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” he shared. “In construction classes, I pay attention and learn.”

Janea Smith, nutrition services manager at IVES, is honored during the April 28 Fantastic 49 celebration.

Rounding out accolades for the evening were Bill Wilhelmy, crossing guard, and Kathy Wilhelmy, lunch monitor, from Inspiration View Elementary. “Bill and Kathy are a treasure … their relationships with families and kids go deep,” said Holloman. “Just last week Kathy went out and purchased games she thought would help students who were struggling at recess, and Bill’s heart is the same. We love them, and our community loves them." 

Fantastic 49 is the district’s recognition program that celebrates fantastic staff, students and community members before board of education meetings.

Devon Owen, student in the construction program at Patriot High, receives an award during Fantastic 49 April 28.Pam Holloman, assistant principal, shares remarks about the Wilhelmys during Fantastic 49.Aiden Kimes, student in the construction program at Patriot High School, is celebrated during Fantastic 49 April 28.


Amy Matisek