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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Lori Hunter Makes A Difference at CUES!

Lori Hunter is an amazing lady and Columbia School District employee.  Her caring attitude and intense concern for Columbia students has taken her from working with preschoolers, to Options High School, to Columbia Elementary, and now to Columbia Upper Elementary, where she serves as the administrative assistant to the principal.

Mrs. Hunter said that she is, “so proud to have been recognized by my peers with the ‘You Make a Difference’ award.  It came as a complete shock, but what an honor!”  She continued by saying that she feels, “so appreciated and thankful for the staff at Columbia Upper Elementary School.  I work with such amazing people that go above and beyond each and every day!”

Lori Hunter mentioned that “the best job in the world is to be able to spend each day helping children and families. Yes, at times it is stressful, but working hard for this school district and community is my passion. Every day, I get to do something that I love and hope to make a difference. All I know is that I would not trade it for the world!”

Mrs. Hunter loves her position at Columbia Upper Elementary.  She said that she receives much joy and hugs every day.  She continued by saying that, “It warms my heart and it keeps me going!” She added, “Every day the students bring a smile to my face and I love to watch them grow!”

Mrs. Hunter is a Golden Eagle for life!  She commented that, “I have had the pleasure of working with generations of families. Many of those I once had as students at COHS now have children of their own. It is incredible to see those I once had as students now flourish as parents.”  She continued by saying, “I am proud to say that it is an honor to be a part of this amazing school district that I call part of my family and it is a “Great Day to be a Golden Eagle!”

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Making A Difference Every Day: Kristy Hannewald!

Columbia Options High School administrative assistant Kristy Hannewald was honored with the “You Make A Difference Award” this year.  Kristy is well loved by the students and staff members at Options High School.  When asked what she liked about her position at Options High School, she said, “Working with the students here at Columbia is rewarding to me. I enjoy being a part of the students’ development, as I help create a loving atmosphere and a constant in their lives.”

Kristy Hannewald began as an integral Columbia School District team member in the transportation department as a driver and secretary.  During her time serving the Columbia School family she has also been the Columbia Community Fitness Center Director and the Columbia Central Junior High secretary.  Her love for supporting our students, teachers, and community members has made interactions with Kristy a positive experience. 

Kristy works to motivate the Columbia Options High School students by encouraging them to exceed their expectations and their past academic performance.  Her caring and nurturing spirit supports the students both academically and socially.  She said that, “The position that I hold at the Alternative building has been so positive. In the two years that I have held the position, I have been able to listen and direct some students in a positive direction to help them accomplish their goals.”

Mrs. Hannewald is greatly appreciated by her fellow staff members.  They appreciate her ability to play an integral part of the leadership team.  Mrs. Hannewald says she is so blessed to have a job in which every day is diverse, and is so privileged to work in the satisfying, life-changing career of being the administrative assistant for such fabulous students and staff members.  She continued by saying, “I am truly blessed to be in the position that I am in, surrounded by my students and staff in a district that I call my second family.”  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District and our programs, email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Annette Friday: CUES Teacher of the Year!

Columbia Upper Elementary sixth grade teacher Annette Friday was chosen as the Teacher of the Year by her fellow teachers and staff members.  Each and every day she gives 100% to her students.  She says that, “My foray into teaching began with the hope of making a difference in the lives of children.”  This statement is obvious when you watch her with her students.  Columbia Upper Elementary principal Jennifer VanWagnen mentioned that Annette is a caring teacher and continued by saying, “Mrs. Friday is very accommodating to individual student needs and she designs her instruction accordingly. She frequently uses small group stations in her classroom. Mrs. Friday spends hours crafting her lesson plans, and has created new lessons that require higher-order thinking and application.”

Annette works with her students to support them as they grow and mature.  She works with them to help keep them focused on becoming successful, both in school and in life.  She said that she firmly believes that her students can achieve anything they set their minds to do.  She continued by saying, “My hope is to create a classroom experience of collective courage as we all stretch ourselves, make mistakes and grow. It’s not just about growing academically but evolving as human beings whose purpose goes beyond the classroom and into the world as a whole.”

Columbia Upper Elementary is fortunate to have Annette as part of the teaching team.  She brings an energy and positive spirit to the school.  She mentioned that she loves teaching at Columbia “because I am surrounded by caring professionals who lift one another up and share this passion.”  Principal VanWagnen talks about Mrs. Friday with great respect for her ability to communicate with her students and her drive to continue to improve her own knowledge of teaching.  She said, “Mrs. Friday is a lifelong learner. She works diligently to expand her repertoire and knowledge of both pedagogy and content specific information.”

As we celebrate Mrs. Friday as the CUES Teacher of the Year we appreciate her diligence and intense spirit of caring and consideration of her students’ best interest.  She commented that, “Ours is an environment where we seek out opportunities to share insights and strategies with the ultimate goal of serving our students with excellence. I want my students to know that I am invested in helping them to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be.”  Thank you Mrs. Friday for all you do for our precious Columbia students!

If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, email or call 5175926641.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Columbia Options Teacher of the Year: Mrs. Adams!

“If a student knows they are safe, they are free to learn and bloom,” said Melissa Adams as she was discussing her love for teaching at Columbia Options High School.  Melissa cares a lot for her students and continued by saying, Each student deserves to know they are special.”  Her focus is to “build students up from the inside out.”  She commented that she tries “to build a relationship based on respect and trust.”  She mentioned that, “A student who is cared for can develop not only the skills required to be an excellent student, but learn those that will build a fulfilling life.”

Melissa began working in the Columbia School District as a substitute teacher.  After several years, she took an interim position working with our Adult Education students.  She was very excited when she learned that there was an opening in the social studies program at Columbia Options High School.  During her time at Options, she has worked diligently and now is also certified as an English teacher.  Mrs. Klink, Columbia Options High School principal said, “Melissa is such a hard worker and always goes above and beyond.”  Melissa was honored by her fellow teachers and staff members at COHS by being selected as the Teacher of the Year this year. 

Melissa talked about her love of teaching and said, “I love to educate the whole child. I love to see them trust themselves.”  As she continued, she said, “I look forward to seeing my students gain the confidence to explore learning. When they learn to unpack information they are given and build their own questions and discoveries, I have done my job.”  As a teacher in Columbia, Mrs. Adams feels that, “In today's world students need to have more than a basic education. I am proud to work in a district where caring staff helps develop today's youth into a strong generation of strong self-reliant adults.” If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District and our programs, email me at or call 5175926641.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Mrs. Caryl Makes A Difference!

Third grade teacher Cindy Caryl loves teaching.  When talking about teaching her students, she said, “Working for Columbia Schools is a true blessing.”  Each day when Mrs. Caryl stands at her classroom door she exudes happiness and true joy.  When you see Mrs. Caryl with her students it is easy to see why her fellow teachers and staff members voted for her for the “You Make A Difference” award at Columbia Upper Elementary School. 

Mrs. Caryl mentioned that, “The amount of support I receive from my team of teachers and my administration makes my school the most amazing place to be.  Columbia is filled with people who embrace that Eagle Pride and it makes coming to school so enjoyable.  Every day I am reminded how fortunate I am to teach in such a terrific community with extraordinary students.”

This spring when faced by the closing of schools, Mrs. Caryl continued reaching out to her students to keep them involved in learning activities.  Her caring spirit extends to her students and she wants to make sure that they are continuing to learn and grow.  Mrs. Caryl said that, “When you feel so blessed, the rest of the job becomes easy. 

Mrs. Caryl is sad that school is closed for the balance of the year, because she feels that, “The best part of my school day is the hugs I receive in the morning as they walk through my classroom door.  Those little hearts are so full of energy and have so much love to give right back.  They give me my purpose for which I am so grateful.  I am lucky to be a part of their little lives.” 

Columbia School District loves having Mrs. Caryl teach third grade!  Her positive outlook and quick smile benefits not only her students, but all those who cross paths with her each day. If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, email me at or call 5175926641.

Mrs. Jenness: CES Teacher of the Year!

Kathy Jenness’ classroom is a designers dream.  Filled with brightly colored frogs, it looks like the perfect learning environment for first graders.  She says that she feels “blessed and fortunate to be teaching in the district that I and all three of my daughters graduated from.”  As she talked about teaching, she continued by saying, “I feel honored to be part of the amazing teaching team at Columbia School District and I am truly a Golden Eagle at heart.”

Kathy said that, “As a teacher I get to contribute to my community in a meaningful way by inspiring little minds to do great things!  Seeing a student’s face light up when they learn a new skill is so rewarding.”  When you talk to Kathy, she beams with love and caring for her students.  Even her email signature says, “A teacher takes a Hand, opens a Mind and touches a Heart.” 

Kathy is an expert at touching the hearts of her students and her fellow teachers.  This year Mrs. Jenness’ fellow staff members at Columbia Elementary School voted her Teacher of the Year.  It is easy to see why her fellow teachers and staff members respect her teaching ability.  When the Governor closed schools and told teachers and students to stay home earlier this spring, Kathy stepped up and immediately began hosting online daily reading activities for her students. 

Kathy’s love for teaching and learning is infectious!  Her students are always working to up to their potential.  She said that she loves her “first graders and the joy they bring each day into the classroom.  Their laughter, smiles, and hugs, are truly a blessing!  As a teacher, I am more than an educator, I am a hug giver, fist bumper, mentor, boo-boo fixer, cheerleader, confidant and friend. I love it all!”  Columbia School District is fortunate to have Mrs. Jenness teaching at Columbia Elementary.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, email me at or call 5175926641.    

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Mr. Luppo Makes Social Studies Fun!

“My son’s favorite teacher!” “He makes social studies interesting and fun.”  These statements are in praise of Dennis Luppo, a popular Columbia Central Junior High School social studies teacher.  This past year, he was nominated and voted “Teacher of the Year” by his fellow junior high school teachers.

Columbia School District has a great group of teachers and Mr. Luppo is just one of many positive hardworking academic instructions.  Mr. Luppo recently received the Superintendent’s Award of Excellence which recognized Dennis Luppo for his outstanding performance, hard work, and dedication to Columbia School District.  His dedication to our students, family and staff is greatly appreciated.

Mr. Luppo is consistently working to advance his students to higher levels of academic achievement through careful planning and focus on increasing his student’s educational excellence.  He works to motivate his students by encouraging them to exceed their expectations and their past social studies performance.  His caring and nurturing spirit supports students both academically and socially.
Mr. Luppo said that, “There are endless reasons why I love teaching and love Columbia. What I love most about teaching middle school students is that they challenge me daily to be a better educator. Their needs change on a daily basis, and I love the challenge of figuring out how to empower them to become successful learners. The people at Columbia are wonderful to work with and they really care about the school, staff, students, sports, and our image. I wouldn’t trade being here for anything in the world.” 

Columbia teachers recognize Mr. Luppo for his leadership in the classroom and as an important part of the school improvement efforts.  For several years he has coached the junior high school football and basketball teams.  His enthusiasm for learning in various settings is illustrated by his ability to demonstrate creativity and innovation in his lesson plans and using teaching methods that inspire students to learn.

Columbia School District appreciates the hard work and excellence in education provided to our students in Mr. Luppo’s classes.  The students benefit from his tenacity, educational enthusiasm, and positive ethical spirit.  Mr. Luppo is an extraordinary dedicated teacher, blessed by his various teaching gifts. He is an exemplary teacher who fosters a collaborative environment for his students through his deep passion for learning.  If you are interested in attending Columbia School District, please email me at or call 5175926641.