2017 Teachers of the Year Brenda Kolbe
2017 Teachers of the Year
Elkhart Community Schools is proud to be home to so many amazing teachers. We recognize that the success of our students is built upon the hard work and dedication of our teachers, who ignite a passion for learning and inspire our students to learn every day. In this recognition, each of Elkhart Community Schools’ 21 locations nominates a building Teacher of the Year, whose hard work and success is celebrated throughout the year within the building. As a district, ECS then selects two teachers as our district Teachers of the Year (one for primary and one for secondary), who are then submitted to the state for consideration for Indiana Teacher of the Year.
Congratulations to Carla Darr, who received Elkhart Community Schools’ Elementary Teacher of the Year Award. Carla is a Second Grade Teacher at Mary Beck Elementary, and has been with ECS for 33 years. Carla adopted a philosophy early in her career that a teacher can have the best lesson plan on the planet, but a child will not learn if there is not a relationship built on trust. Carla spends countless hours outside of the school day in the community attending events supporting her current and former students, and is also actively involved in fundraising for her students. Every day, she looks each student in the eye and tells them how happy she is to see them. She cherishes the days when she gets to celebrate her students’ success, and is thrilled when former students reach out to tell her how well they are doing. Prior to this award, Carla has also received the Salute to Women award from the YWCA, David B. Emens Elementary Coach of the Year award, and the Arthur J. Decio Volunteer of the Year award from United Way. She currently serves on the Elkhart Education Foundation board and is a NIVA volleyball club coach. We are so thankful for Carla and the thousands of lives she has positively impacted, through her work as a teacher at Elkhart Community Schools.
Congratulations to Kristin Baker, who received Elkhart Community Schools’ Secondary Teacher of the Year Award. Kristin is a Speech and Theatre teacher at Elkhart Central High School, and has been a teacher for 18 years. As a child, Kristin was shy and struggled with social anxiety, and found a safe space on the stage of a theatre, an experience she uses to help her students. Kristin’s greatest accomplishments as a teacher are found in reading her students’ evaluations at the end of the year – many students praise her for truly getting to know them and for helping them build confidence. In the classroom, Kristin believes every student has value and something to add to the class and greater community. Her lessons are designed to give students time to explore the why behind their words and actions, as much as the how and what. Due to the nature of her speech curriculum, social philosophies also come into play, as students debate current local, societal, and global issues, as well as what actions might need to be taken to make our world a better place. She teaches students that failures and challenges are not something to be feared, but are simply stepping stones to success. Kristin is in love with the Elkhart community and dedicates much of her free time to helping the community thrive – including community clean-up projects, volunteering at church youth groups, helping local students travel and volunteer, and participating in annual food collections. We are so thankful for Kristin and the thousands of lives she has positively impacted, through her work as a teacher at Elkhart Community Schools.
2017 Primary / Elementary School Nominees
Beardsley Elementary School
Mary Beck Elementary School
Bristol Elementary School
Cleveland Elementary School
Mary Daly Elementary School
Eastwood Elementary School
Amy Reglein Petersen
Mary Feeser Elementary School