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ISTA awards excellence in public education

ISTA officers visited awardees across the state to offer congratulations. Join ISTA at the Shaping the Future: ISTA Leadership Conference Sept. 10 – 12 to celebrate the honorees.

ISTA Hoosier Educator of the Year
L to R: ISTA President Keith Gambill with Janet Chandler.

ISTA Hoosier Educator of the Year

Janet Chandler, Hamilton Southeastern Education Association

Students, colleagues and administrators all commend the selection of Janet Chandler as ISTA’s Hoosier Educator of the Year. Chandler is the president of the Hamilton Southeastern Education Association and has served in a leadership position in the local association for 31 years. She has coordinated advocacy on behalf of public education, led membership campaigns and defended educator rights. But her impact extends much further than as an association leader. She sponsors the Mock Trial Team and We the People Citizen and the Constitution Competition. Chandler demonstrates a personal commitment to education earning an M.S. in Secondary Education and a Doctor of Jurisprudence in addition to earning seven areas of certification.

“She taught me to be more confident when responding, to not use filler words and to truly know my character’s work. In every practice, Ms. Chandler gives valuable assistance to everyone on the team, whether that is about making sure we don’t have any misconceptions about the case or helping us improve from a previous defeat.”

Manav Krishna, Student and Mock Trial Team Member

Nathan G. Schnellenberger Pacesetter Award
L to R: ISTA President Keith Gambill, Hilda Kendrick-Appiah, Greater Clark Co. EA President Mark Felix and John McLaughlin.

Nathan G. Schnellenberger Pacesetter Award

Hilda Kendrick-Appiah, Greater Clark Education Association

This year’s Nathan G. Schnellenerger Pacesetter Award honoree was directly encouraged by Schnellenberger to run and serve in ISTA leadership positions. It is fitting that the first recipient of the renamed Pacesetter Award be a leader identified and mentored by Schnellenberger. Hilda Kendrick-Appiah is concluding two terms as an NEA Board Director. She has also served in numerous Association positions, including as NEA’s political action committee state lead, ISTA Minority Affairs Committee chair, District Council member, L-PAC member and more. Her students drive her advocacy for public education. Kendrick-Appiah is the dean of kindergarten teachers in the Greater Clark County Schools and puts her students first offering tutoring, delivering meals and volunteering all to support her students.

“Ms. Kendrick demonstrates both the spirit and the letter of the Nathan G. Schnellenberger Pacesetter Award on a daily basis. She has diligently championed traditional public education in Indiana throughout her career. As a woman of color, she courageously demonstrates the importance of the role minority educators play in the lives of our students today.”

John McLaughlin, Colleague

ESP of the Year
L to R: ISTA UniServ Director Dave Smith, Christine Barnes and ISTA Vice President Jennifer Smith-Margraf.

ESP of the Year

Christine Barnes, ESP of River Forest

Christine Barnes is a paraprofessional at River Forest High School. She serves as president of her local association. But Barnes’ outstanding quality is her dedication to her students, school and district. She supports student programs such as the Indiana Youth and Government, High School Student Council, Youth Exchange and Study, leads concessions at the middle and high school and so much more. Her unending commitment to public education and students is what makes her extraordinary and deserving of the award of ESP of the Year.

“She has an incredible imagination and always goes above and beyond to make the entire school experience fun and memorable for our students, staff and community.”

Julie Woods, Colleague

J.D. Miller Young Activist Award

John (Jack) Hesser, Indianapolis Education Association

In five years as an educator, John (Jack) Hesser has made his mark within his school district, local and ISTA. Hesser was named the Indianapolis Public Schools 2021 Teacher of the Year. In 2019, he was honored as the Outstanding Earth Science Teacher of the Year for Indiana by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. While providing great instruction to students, he’s also been leading the Indianapolis Education Association’s Membership Committee. Hesser has also dedicated time to guiding other early career educators as an ISTA Early Leadership Institute Coach.

Friend of Education Award
L to R: Founder and President of Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation Stanley Madison, Jill Wright and ISTA President Keith Gambill.

Friend of Education Award

Stanley Madison, President & Founder, Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation

Stanley Madison is the founder and president of Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation, which was established to preserve the oral, written and physical history of the community of Lyles Station, an African American farming community established in the 19th century. Through community and corporate partnerships, Madison has enabled thousands of students to visit and learn at Lyles Station.

Community Service Award

Mary Arnold, New Albany-Floyd County Education Association

During the pandemic, Mary Arnold started a series of free, online painting classes. The series became the Facebook group Painting with a Purpose. Arnold’s classes have given participants a creative outlet during a challenging year. The group has more than 19,000 members, more than 235,000 views on YouTube and 374 uploaded videos.

Lifetime Achievement Award 

Anne Rust Aurand, ISTA-Retired

Anne Rust Aurand has been a mentor and an association leader for much of her career. As a mentor, she encouraged other educators to find what they loved in teaching, acknowledging, “If you love your job, it is not work.” Rust Aurand served as president, vice president and secretary and attended more than 25 NEA Representative Assemblies. She is now a member of ISTA-Retired.

N. Robert Montfort Communications Award

Indianapolis Education Association

The Indianapolis Education Association (IEA) recognized the need to innovate their communications strategies, especially during the pandemic. IEA’s Membership Committee leveraged Facebook and Twitter to engage and inform IEA members. Their posts focused on membership development, celebrated and featured members and delivered important updates. IEA has seen a significant increase in social media impressions and overall member morale.

School Bell Award

Jana Wiersema, The Republic

An article published in The Republic by Jana Wiersema raised community awareness in Bartholomew County on the benefits of collective bargaining for educators. Nominator Dakota Hudelson says, “It began a conversation regarding collective bargaining for educators and inspired many community members to speak up on social media and elsewhere for greater collective bargaining power for educators.”

The Minority Educator of the Year will be announced this fall.