‘Dedicated educators’ | Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awardees focus on serving their students

The Archdiocese of St. Louis was well-represented at the recent Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award ceremonies, with recipients at all levels of education. Seven Catholic schools teachers — two each at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, and a college professor — were among 100 local educators honored for their achievements and dedication to teaching.Emerson executive vice president Patrick J. Sly called the winners "an inspiration," describing them as "dedicated educators ... who are striving to create bright futures for all of their students."

Award recipients from the past five years, including this year, are eligible to apply for Gold Star Grants, which fund educational projects in technology, innovation and leadership. The grants will be presented in spring.

The award winners from schools in the archdiocese ... 


Christina AmbroseChristina Ambrose

Where • Christ, Prince of Peace School

Class • Grade 1

Years teaching • six

Education • University of Missouri Columbia (bachelor's, master's)

Highlights • Among Christina's favorite cross-curricular projects is the zoo project each April. In science, students learn about animal habitats and characteristics, then each chooses an animal to research on the San Diego Zoo website and creates a digital story. The project concludes with a trip to the St. Louis Zoo, where students take photos and videos of "their" animals' habitats. Back at school, they use the photos to create a class "zookeeper video" to share with their parents at their learning celebration.

Julie KrummenacherJulia Krummenacher

Where • St. Gerard Majella School

Class • Grade 5

Years teaching • 30

Education • Benedictine College (bachelor's); Fontbonne University (education certification)

Highlights • Julia implements strong classroom student-centered methodologies in all of the areas she teaches — literature, composition and social studies. She emphasizes student collaboration, technology integration and Socratic dialogue to empower students to take control of their learning. For instance, each student becomes an expert in a specific area, narrowed from a general topic. Schema is built through reading, discussion, current events and online activities.


Carla BaslerCarla Basler

Where • Valle Catholic Grade School

Classes • Grades 6-8/reading

Years teaching • six

Education • Fontbonne University (bachelor's)

Highlights • Carla revised her approach to teaching language when she concluded that teaching the same stories to all of the students was no longer acceptable because many were reading texts they couldn't manage. After research on best practices, she now uses the reader's workshop model, with the focus on independent reading. Students read texts that interest them and in this way are engaged, motivated and progressing at their own pace. Students demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways: tests and projects that reflect their interests, talents and the way in which they learn best.

Teresa KinealTeresa Kineal

Where • Ste. Genevieve du Bois School

Classes • Grades 6-8/religion and math

Years teaching • 15

Education • Lindenwood College (bachelor's); University of Missouri St. Louis (master's)

Highlights • Differentiated instruction is the core of Teresa's math classes: Lessons and assessments focus on strengths and weaknesses of each class and student, who discovers multiple ways of arriving at a correct answer. She initiated a professional learning community with other middle-school math teachers to share knowledge and instructional best practices. In addition to religion classes, she directs student leadership in weekly liturgies and has revised other devotionals with creativity to engage students more effectively.


Jessica KingJessica King

Where • Visitation Academy

Classes • Grades 7-9/level 1 Spanish; Grade 12/AP Spanish

Years teaching • 13

Education • St. Louis University (bachelor's, master's)

Highlights • Jessica's knowledge of her subject area, passion for teaching and love of her students are exemplary. Her lessons include activities to engage all learners in mixed-ability classes. Whether teaching beginning classes to middle-schoolers or upper-level college credit classes, she approaches teaching with energy and excitement that is contagious. The chair of Viz's Modern & Classical Languages Department, she was instrumental in bringing four language labs to the school, enabling students to become proficient in the target language.

Adam White

Adam WhiteWhere • Barat Academy

Subject • AP microeconomics, AP macroeconomics, U.S. history, AP U.S. history, AP U.S. government, Western civilization

Years teaching • 12

Education • North Carolina State University (bachelor's, two); Washington University (master's candidate)

Application highlight • Adam challenges students to higher levels of thinking with an engaging, creative and meaningful style that results in students who question, analyze and articulate clear visions of hope for the future and innovative solutions to problems facing our country and our world. Adam boasts a record of strong student exam scores in rigorous AP courses exams. He integrates the most effective technology applications and instructional strategies that he brings from the professional development he routinely seeks on his own.


Laura O'HaraLaura O'Hara

Where • Fontbonne University

Subject • Speech pathology

Years teaching • 12

Education • Fontbonne University (bachelor's, master's), St. Louis University (doctorate)

Application highlight • Laura's Emerson honor comes on the heels of Joan Goostree Stevens Excellence in Teaching Award, which came with the recognition of colleagues and students who nominated her. The alumna returned to Fontbonne after eight years as a speech-language pathologist in a public schools system. Her research areas and scholarly interests run the gamut: emergent literacy, early childhood language development, school-age language development, articulation and phonology disorders, and transdisciplinary assessment and intervention.

— Dave Luecking 

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