While the COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on last school year, it also gave teachers and faculty members a unique chance to adapt and shine. The Wooster City School District is excited to recognize two employees who excelled in their roles as recipients of the Ralph R. and Grace B. Jones Foundation 2020 Outstanding Teacher and Outstanding Staff Member Awards.
These awards recognize Wooster employees who went above and beyond and made a positive impact at their school. Sandy Gasser, a first-grade teacher at Melrose Elementary, was named this year’s Outstanding Teacher honoree, and the Outstanding Staff Member award recipient is Diane Hackett, a paraprofessional at Wooster High School.
Throughout her nearly 30-year career, Gasser has focused on educating elementary students while also being a friend and mentor to her colleagues. Those who nominated Gasser noted that she always looks for innovative ways to differentiate her teaching for each student and treats them all fairly and with respect. She gets to know them as individuals, and in return, they show her the same respect she shows them.
Beyond the classroom, Gasser also gives back to the community. She volunteers her time at the Northeast Ohio Women’s Prison leading a Bible study group. Additionally, she spent significant time this summer lending her insight and expertise to the COVID-19 Recovery Action Planning team for the Wooster City School District.
“Sandy is incredibly well-respected throughout the district and community,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Tefs. “She connects with her students in deeply meaningful ways and is always ready and willing to go above and beyond to help each one achieve their highest potential. She is very dedicated to this profession and the Wooster community. The Jones Foundation made a terrific selection!”
As a specialized paraprofessional, Hackett has spent a number of years dedicated to the Emotional Disturbance Unit at Wooster High School. She has proven to be a valuable team member who ensures that her students achieve their goals, academically and emotionally. Her nominators say she has a “special positive energy” that has a great impact on the students she works with every day and the district as a whole.
Hackett also enjoys volunteering her time. She sells tickets for home athletic events and volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club.
“Diane is a tremendous asset to the high school and the students she serves,” said Dr. Tefs. “Her students and colleagues respect her greatly, look to her for guidance, and truly appreciate her presence. Congratulations, Diane!”
Each year, the Ralph R. and Grace B. Jones Foundation fund is awarded to those who exceptionally serve students and the community while demonstrating respect for their students, peers, and members of the community. Recipients of the award are gifted an unrestricted $5,000 cash stipend.