H-PT school board cites teachers’ contributions

HOUGHTON – Two Houghton-Portage Township School District teachers who recently won prestigious awards were recognized by the school board recently.

Houghton Elementary School art teacher Melissa Hronkin received the National Art Education Association Award for Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Hronkin was named Michigan’s Elementary Art Educator of the Year last year, automatically nominating her for the national award.

Hronkin will be presented with the award at the NAEA’s national conference this spring in San Diego.

“Thank you very much for your support,” she said. “Thanks for hiring me.”

Elementary school physical education teacher Jared Lawson won a Teacher of the Year award from the Michigan Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Lawson was also recognized for his achievements as a coordinator for Jump Rope for Heart, raising $15,582, the fourth-highest mark in the state.

“The community probably gets a lot of that credit,” he said. “They’ve done a phenomenal job of helping kids out.”

In other action, the board:

– hired Meryl Lucchesi-Freyberg as a seventh-grade English teacher.

– retained the same officers as last year: President Nels Christopherson, Vice President Brad Baltensperger, Treasurer Dan Crane and Secretary Crystal Verran. Committee assignments also remained the same.

– kept the meeting time as 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month.

– recognized board members for Board Appreciation Month.

– heard a report from Middle School Principal Julie Filpus. Sixth-grader Ethan Baker won the school geography bee, and took a written test to determine if he will move on to the state level. The school is planning a Wellness Day for middle-school students on Feb. 20, including a guest speaker sponsored by Portage Health and a series of recreational activities.

– heard a report from High School Principal Patrick Aldrich. The buildings have created teams for Multi-Tier System of Supports, a system of collaborative learning, and are working to put it in place. Deb Zei’s Applied Senior Math Class will be taking part in a national stock market game, making them one of two classes in the 1st Congressional District to be chosen. The top 10 teams in the country will get an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

– heard a report from Elementary School Principal Anders Hill. The school held its geography bee, which was won by fourth-grader Noah Sanders. Students for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Michigan Technological University came to the elementary school together to read to students about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.