Burlington principal, teacher recognized for service

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

BURLINGTON — Two Burlington Elementary educators were honored by their peers for their years of dedication to the school and its students during a surprise party Wednesday.

Stacy Mathes, second grade teacher, was recently recognized by the Burlington Wal-Mart Supercenter as its Teacher of the Year.

The annual award, which is open to teachers throughout Lawrence County, is based on nominations from students. The students write essays about their favorite teacher, then the Wal-Mart employees read the essays and vote on which teacher should be honored.

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“I was astonished,” Mathes said of her award. “It was an utter surprise.”

She said there are many deserving teachers, but “it’s nice to be recognized.”

Mathes has been a teacher for 11 years and says she loves coming into work everyday because of her co-workers and her students.

“At this age, they are so eager to learn. It’s just very rewarding,” she said.

Mathes’ twins, Tyler and Tanner, were both in their mother’s class last year. They said she is a good teacher and is nice to everybody.

“She teaches stuff slowly,” Tyler Mathes said with a shy smile.

Principal Mark Christian also sang the award-winning teacher’s praises, saying, “She puts a lot of extra effort into what she does. All the kids really like her.”

Christian said Mathes is the third teacher from Burlington to receive the Teacher of the Year award in recent years.

For her efforts, she won a $100 gift card and an embroidered T-shirt. The school will receive $1,000 for her efforts.

Christian was also honored Wednesday. After being at the helm of Burlington for eight years, he has accepted the position of co-assistant district superintendent. Henrietta Kitchen, who currently works at South Point Elementary, will take his post next year.

During his tenure, the school has garnered state and local recognition and has turned its tests scores around dramatically, Christian said. The school has been named a “School of Promise” by the Ohio Department of Education for the past four years, he said, and will probably receive the honor again this year.

Christian said the district is going through so many changes — including the construction of all new buildings — and he is excited about being a part of it. But, he said, leaving Burlington is bittersweet.

“We have worked hard and I’ve tried to get us all working together,” he said. “I’ve always tried to help us all get along and get us working toward our goals.”

Christian’s secretary of four years, Peggy Ray, said she is going to miss her boss terribly. The two went to school together from kindergarten through graduation in South Point schools.

“We were supposed to retire together,” Ray said with a smile.

She described Christian as an easy-going guy who tries to be fair to everyone. He tries to get along with everybody, she said.

Ray said she does not doubt that Christian will be successful at his new endeavor.

She said, “He tries so hard and he’s good at everything he does.”