Catholic school teachers honored for dedication to teaching

Four Catholic school teachers were among 109 St. Louis-area educators who received Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awards in a ceremony Nov. 12 at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton.

Selected by the Catholic Education Office, the archdiocese's 2017 Emerson class consists of: Laurie Clarkson of Sacred Heart (Troy); Katherine Compton of St. Rose of Lima (DeSoto); Karen Pollmann of St. Gerard Majella (Kirkwood); and Becky Struckel of Assumption (Mattese).

According to Emerson, the awards "celebrate and honor the outstanding efforts and achievements of educators" and recognize "their honorable commitment and dedication to teaching."

Laurie Clarkson

School: Sacred Heart (Troy)

Subject(s) taught: Fourth grade

Years at school: 14

From nomination: Laurie is committed to the mission of Sacred Heart School. Daily she works with parents (and) assists them in their duty as the primary educators of their children. Helping children learn to know and be in relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church is her number-one task. Our faith community is stronger because of Laurie's work. ... As a professional educator, Laurie can be counted on to keep her commitments to students, parents and the community.

— Ann Hoffman, principal

Teacher comment: As a Catholic educator, I am proud to say that we use virtue throughout our classroom. We cultivate kindness, celebrate with joy, encourage students to express themselves honestly and teach them to have hope for a better future. ... I love to see my children enjoy learning, and I strive to help them learn as much as they can about each subject, life and each other.

Katherine Compton

School: St. Rose of Lima (DeSoto)

Subject(s) taught: religion, math, literature, computer, fifth-through-eighth grades

Years at school: 17

From nomination: She has always given above and beyond what was expected of her. ... Small schools like ours sometimes demand that teachers have multiple roles and wear many hats. So Kathey took on being the person on staff who would take care of technology. This was in addition to her other responsibilities, and she took our school from having virtually nothing to having a fully functioning technology program. She is a mentor for young teachers and a model for the rest of the faculty and staff.

— Michael Talleur, principal

Teacher comment: Collaboration using social media and technology-based communities have been a staple for me during my teaching career. ... The knowledge that can be acquired, collaboration with other classrooms/teachers, endless presentation options, higher-order thinking skills and countless other advantages stem from the use of technology. It is the way of the modern world.

Karen Pollmann

School: St. Gerard Majella (Kirkwood)

Subject(s) taught: kindergarten

Years at school: 4

From nomination: It takes a special person to engage the little ones, and she has what it takes — lots and lots of love. ... She knows that little minds need lots and lots of stimulation to learn. She has built a curriculum for science and social studies based on experiential learning. ... She brings her ministry into everything she does. She is a living example of our theme, "Joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love."

— Chrisell Guthrie, principal

Teacher comment: My goal each year is to teach the total child — academically, socially, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Kindergartners come in with varying degrees of readiness, background knowledge and interests. It is important for me to meet each child at their level and help them grow and develop to be confident speakers, listeners, readers and writers as they move on to first grade.

Becky Struckel

School: Assumption (Mattese)

Subject(s) taught: English language arts, literature, sixth-through-eighth grades

Years at school: 5

From nomination: Mrs. Struckel upholds Assumption's mission daily, bringing faith and virtue to the classroom and modeling love of God and neighbor. Mrs. Struckel's classroom is the epitome of student-centered. She spends countless hours preparing lessons that are meaningful and are engaging for the students. ... She gets her students excited about literature and learning. ... In addition, Mrs. Struckel contributes to the building of faith and professional community.

— Jennifer Sykora, principal

Teacher comment: I use teaching methods with clear goals and objectives, so students know exactly how they can closely monitor and self-evaluate their learning. ... My job (is) to prepare them for high school and beyond. My role as an educator is to be the students' trustworthy coach, their teacher, their motivator and their counselor providing both spiritual and emotional support and guidance. 

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