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ISTA Honors Educators During Teacher Appreciation Week

During Teacher Appreciation Week May 4 – 8, the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) recognized educators and community members with awards for their contributions to public education. ISTA President Keith Gambill informed the honorees by phone this week.

“During this unprecedented time in public education, educators and communities have continued to rally and support public education,” said Gambill. “Our honorees have demonstrated professional skill, community service and commitment to the Association.”

“These awards are typically distributed at an ISTA summer event, but we moved up the awards announcement for educators, parents and community members to say congratulations and thank you to the honorees and all public-school educators making a difference in this difficult time,” continued Gambill.

Community Service Award 

Jim Lindsey, Franklin Township Education Association member, was honored with the Community Service Award for his involvement in several school committees and student-led clubs and the Bikers Against Child Abuse.   

J.D. Miller Young Activist Award 

Paul Utterback, Crawfordsville Education Association member, was honored with the J.D. Miller Young Activist Award. This award recognizes involvement and commitment to Association activities. Utterback has been involved in his local association since his first year as a teacher. He has since become the local association president and engages in advocacy for local and statewide issues. 

David Hanna Golden Touch Award 

Sherry Watkins and Nate Schnellenberger were honored with the David Hanna Golden Touch Award, which recognizes the contributions of retired educators. Watkins, an ISTA-Retired member, contributes her time and expertise to support retired educators. Outside of her Association work, she is a dedicated volunteer for local, state and national organizations serving women, educators and kids.  

Schnellenberger’s honor was awarded posthumously. During his long career in education, he served as ISTA-Retired board representative, ISTA president from 2007 – 13 and numerous other leadership roles. Schnellenberger was committed to ensuring retired educators were represented and recognized for their lifetime of service. 

N. Robert Montfort Communications Award 

Elkhart Teachers Association was honored for outstanding communications and outreach to local association members. 

School Bell Award 

Marc Chase, editor of the Northwest Indiana Times, was recognized with the School Bell Award. This honor is awarded to a member of the media who diligently and accurately covers public education in Indiana. Through his reporting and leadership of the editorial board, Chase has brought the concerns of teachers and educators to the forefront. 

Minority Educator of the Year Award 

Willandra Macklin-Malone, Edinburgh Education Association member, was recognized with the Minority Educator of the Year Award. Macklin-Malone is an African American, fourth-grade teacher who brings diverse experiences and hands-on activities to her classroom. She incorporates books from diverse authors and STEM projects and experiments into her curriculum. Macklin-Malone also serves on the ISTA Minority Affairs Committee.   

ESP of the Year Award 

Peggy Emerson, New Albany-Floyd County Bus Drivers Association member, was recognized as the Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year. Emerson is a special education bus driver with more than 27 years of experience. She has spent years connecting with students as the first and last contact at school. This year Emerson was also recognized as the New Albany-Floyd County Support Staff Employee of the Year. 

ISTA Hoosier Educator of the Year Award 

Randy Studt, West Lafayette Education Association member, was named the ISTA Hoosier Educator of the Year. Studt has been an educator for more than 30 years teaching German to junior and high school students. He brings a unique enthusiasm and creativity to his foreign-language classroom connecting students to cultural activities, competitions and international travel. Studt is also a cheerleader for students, attending numerous student competitions, sporting events, concerts and plays annually. 

Studt’s involvement extends to the community. He promotes inclusion and acceptance by serving on the Greater Lafayette’s Human Rights Commission. 

He has also led Red For Ed advocacy efforts in his local and statewide as the chair of the Indiana Political Action Committee for Education.   

The ISTA Hoosier Educator of the Year Award is supported by Horace Mann.