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Parma Education Association honors outstanding teachers, staff throughout PCSD
May 20, 2019
There are truly outstanding educators and staff members that make up the Parma City School District.
Each year, the Parma Education Association (PEA) honors three of these outstanding employees for their dedication, passion and service by naming Educator of the Year, Special Educator of the Year and Helping Hand Award winners.
Educator of the Year and Special Educator of the Year awards are given to certified staff members, while the Helping Hand Award is given to a classified staff member.
This year, Jeremiah DesForges, health and physical education teacher at Normandy High School, was named Educator of the Year. Kim Tomco-Karaffa, a small group special education teacher for grades K – 4 at Pleasant Valley Elementary School, was named Special Educator of the Year. Wendy Cutler, a special education assistant at Valley Forge High School, received the Helping Hand Award.
Each winner was surprised in their classroom on May 2 during the school day. Building principals, colleagues and students were present to share in the exciting news.
PEA President Sue Messinger said PEA started these awards only five or six years ago.
“We have a recognition event every year where we would honor retirees, give out scholarships to graduating seniors and award classroom grants to teachers,” she explained. “We decided that we needed to amp it up a bit and honor our current staff, the best of the best. It’s a really nice event where we get everyone together at the end of the year to celebrate and give back.”
The PEA recognition dinner was held on May 13, where award recipients were formally recognized for their achievements.
Messinger added that teachers and staff are nominated by their peers as well as community members for these awards.
“It’s hard to choose because we are so lucky to have a lot of great people here and there are really good nominations every year,” she said. “I love this district because we have people who go above and beyond consistently to serve our students. They love what they do and they really care.”
DesForges said he’s very honored to be named Educator of the Year and was very surprised when they made the announcement during his class.
“The award means a great deal to me,” he shared. “I have had many ups and downs in my career, and this award makes it worth the roadblocks I have faced.”
“Getting each student to feel some sort of success is what drives me in my teaching,” DesForges added. “I see myself in a great deal of my students, and I try to motivate them to do their best.”
Cutler similarly shared that she is honored to be named this year’s Helping Hand Award winner.
“The students I have worked with over the years truly inspire me,” she expressed. “Helping them develop and improve their academic and social skills throughout the year and seeing their transformation makes me happy. Taking that extra step with a student can make a lifelong impact of their learning. I’m proud to be part of the PCSD family.”
Tomco-Karaffa said it's awesome to be recognized by others for what she loves to do.
“It means so much to know that others recognize how passionate I am about my class,” she shared. “I work to grow and change each year along with the kids, and I am always striving to figure out what my kids need in order to be successful. My students are incredible and teach me so many things. I work hard to build relationships with all of my kids, and I love seeing them make progress.”
PHOTO CAPTION: (L-R): Jerry DesForges from Normandy, Wendy Cutler from Valley Forge and Kim Tomco-Karaffa each won PEA awards this school year for their dedication to students in the PCSD.