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South Shore Foundation Outstanding Teachers Chosen for 2006
July 2006
South Shore Foundation Outstanding Teachers Chosen for 2006
Three teachers have been honored as South Shore Foundation Outstanding Teachers for 2006. Two are shown being congratulated by South Shore Foundation Chairman Jodie Elizabeth Jeffrey (center). Jana Baker (left) is a teacher at Omaha Elementary School and Marilyn Muehler (right) is a teacher at Flippin Elementary. Not pictured with them is Kent Mathis of the Bruno-Pyatt High School. The award-winners were nominated by colleagues and selected by a committee of Arkansas State University Mountain Home faculty. Each received $1,000 from South Shore Foundation.
Kent Mathis
Kent Mathis

A social studies teacher, a math teacher, and a high school agriculture teacher are the South Shore Foundation Outstanding Teachers for 2006, Chairman Jodie Elizabeth Jeffrey has announced. Each teacher receives a $1,000 award.

Winners are: Marilyn Muehler, teacher of fourth grade social studies at Flippin Elementary School; Jana Baker, teacher of math in fifth and sixth grades at Omaha Elementary School; Kent Mathis, teacher of agriculture in the Bruno-Pyatt High School at Everton. Winners were chosen by a committee of Arkansas State University Mountain Home instructors from nominations.

Marilyn Muehler
Marilyn Muehler has taught fourth grade social studies at Flippin Elementary School 14 years out of a total of 23 years as a teacher. She is a graduate of the National College of Education in Evanston, Ill., with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (K-8). She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary teacher organization, and was selected to participate in National Endowment for the Humanities workshops, “Crafting Freedom” held in North Carolina.

A nominator of Mrs. Muehler compliments her instructional expertise, saying she uses diverse strategies, citing these examples: allowing students to have hands-on experience learning the regions of Arkansas by making salt dough maps, inviting resource people of Native American heritage to the classroom, and arranging local and state capital field trips to study history.

A second nominator said Mrs. Muehler teaches every fourth grade class the Arkansas state song and uses many resources to bring Arkansas history alive. A “family reading night” where each child receives his own Accelerated Reading book was made possible by a grant Mrs. Muehler received through the Arkansas Humanities Council and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. Flippin Principal Curt Bryant said Mrs. Muehler has written and co-authored grants to support lots of teaching materials and activities that could not have been done without the extra funds.

Mrs. Muehler was complimented, also, in helping students individually with their writing and by monitoring homework folders daily. The fourth-grade teacher has been a mentor for new Flippin teachers, served on the personnel policy committee, chaired Flippin Elementary’s Arkansas Consolidated School Improvement Plan since 2003, and led the development of an Indian Heritage unit of study on the Arkansas Quapaw, Caddo, and Osage Indians.

Mrs. Muehler and her husband, Dean, reside in Mountain Home. She is a member of Mountain Home Bible Church and enjoys travel, reading, gardening, and spending time with family and friends.

Jana Baker
Jana Baker has taught at Omaha Elementary School for four years, after teaching a year in Monroe, La. She is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and certification for all subjects pre-school through eighth grade.

Mrs. Baker was an honor student and is now a member of Phi Kappa Phi national honor society and Kappa Delta Pi educational honor society.

Mrs. Baker has been the site coordinator of Omaha’s after-school and tutoring programs for two years, a program funded by a grant of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and she has worked in the summer school program for three years. She conducted a workshop on writing for other Omaha teachers and attended workshops on reading, writing, and the Arkansas Smart Start/Step Conference, held during summers.

Nominators of Mrs. Baker praise her enthusiasm and “exuberant style that the students enjoy immensely.” She is described as being committed not only to her students’ academic success, but also to their physical and emotional well-being. A colleague said Mrs. Baker gives mathematics lessons on all levels of learning, using techniques and technology that go above and beyond what is required of her.

As evidence of her students’ success, judges received performance records of students on state testing in mathematics that indicated increasing numbers have scored in the “proficient” range and the “advanced” range the past three years. An additional gauge of math mastery, the Success Marker computer program, found every fifth and sixth grade student growing in mastery and applied knowledge of math, as measured by performance at grade levels.

Mrs. Baker and her husband, Steve, live in Omaha with their children, Taylor and Aubrey. She is a member of First Baptist Church of Omaha, where she works with the youth program.

Kent Mathis
Kent Mathis has been the agriculture teacher at Bruno-Pyatt High School during all of his 11 years of teaching. He earned a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from the University of Arkansas in 1992 and a master of science degree, also from the U of A, in 2003. Since 1993, he has been certified to teach agriculture, general science and career orientation.

Nominators of Mathis said he uses exemplary classroom skills, sets high expectations for his students, and spends time after the school day and weekends working with students on their projects. Because he is on the staff at Bruno-Pyatt, Principal Kelvin Hudson said, students are able to take courses to receive college credit in such courses as agri business systems. They also complimented his leadership within the school faculty and the community. He has chaired the personnel policies committee for 10 years and co-founded the Marion County Future Farmers of America Booster Club, which raises funds for the livestock show at the Marion County Fair, and has served on the parent involvement committee. Mathis works with the county Farm Bureau to take all FFA officers from county schools to Little Rock to meet their legislators and become more familiar with the democratic process.

A grant from Wal-Mart and training through the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission for Mathis and the science department at Bruno-Pyatt means the school is planning to develop an outdoor classroom and environmental education lab.

Student success in agriculture is evident because four Bruno-Pyatt agriculture students are the reigning state champions in the dairy products division of the FFA, and one team member is high point individual for the state. The team placed as a national top ten finalist and three team members placed individually in the top 30 students on the national level. Mathis said students have received both state and national recognition for the past 10 years, including earning the State FFA Degree, and one earned the American FFA Degree, the highest degree possible in the organization. Three current students are members of the Purple Circle Club at the Arkansas State Fair because they have exhibited state fair grand champion animals.

Mathis and his wife, Dawn, and their children, Caleb and Anna, reside in Harrison.

South Shore Foundation is the charitable foundation of Northern Arkansas Telephone Company of Flippin. With a board of directors consisting of community, education and business leaders from Marion, Boone, and Baxter counties, the foundation supports projects that further education, preserve the environment, and develop the economy. To contact the foundation, call 1-800-775-6682.

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