VBISD kicks off school year by honoring staff for their service

By: 
Paul Garrod - news4garrod@vineyardpress.biz
	Tonda Boothby, Administrator for School Improvement at the Van Buren Intermediate School District, above, receives a 45-year service award from VBISD Superintendent Jeff Mills during an opening day event at the Paw Paw Performing Arts Center Monday. Mills was honored with a 20-year service award. The event also featured former Technology Center students offering their success stories. Two of those former students, Kristen Lamphere and Zach Kennrich, pose below with VBISD Board members, from left, John Weiss, Frances Sage Mary Ann Middaugh and James Crandall.

    PAW PAW - As the 2019- 2020 school year approaches, more than 450 Van Buren Intermediate School District  employees  gathered Monday at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at Paw Paw High School   for their opening day.
    The event featured staff service awards ranging from  five to 45 years,  as well as former VBISD  Technology Center students sharing their success stories.
    Among those former students who attended and spoke to the  audience were  Jose Alexis, Kristen Lamphere, Zach Kennrich, Dr. Felipie Lopez Sustatita, and Zach Morris.
    Alexis attended the VBISD’s  Technology Center’s Allied Health and Patient Care program. Currently, he serves as the coordinator for outreach and recruitment for Western Michigan University’s Assistance Migrant Program.
    Alexis, who spent his senior year at the Technology Center, said he was the first one in his family to go to college. “It was quite a  big deal,” said Alexis.  His family had immigrated to New Jersey from Mexico, then traveled to Michigan.
    He said he wanted to be a big brother to his other siblings.
    As the youngest staff member at WMU’s migrant program, “It was quite a challenge to  accept the position,” said Alexis. “It certainly has been an amazing experience. I hope to give back as you have given to me.”
    Dr. Lopez attended the VBISD’s Summer Migrant program in 1998. He said a age 16 he could not read or write. He attended Michigan State University, East Lansing, and received his bachelor of science degree at age 20. He then received his doctorate degree nine years later.
    He credited the VBISD with love and support and said, “You,  matter.”
    Dr. Lopez said, “I’ve had a blessed life. It is because of every single one of you. You, matter. Keep doing what you’re doing... I’m proud to be a product of your district.”
    Kennrich, a former emergency medical technician (EMT)  student at the Technology Center,  said,  “At the  age of four, I drew a picture of an ambulance. I wanted to work on an ambulance,” he said.
    His  life’s  career took a few  curves early on as he was tested and fit into a career as a traffic controller. He said he has had a great experience as an EMT, and praised the VBISD for his confidence and education.
    Kennrich became a fire inspector for South Haven Area Emergency Services (SAES). He now serves as a SAES firefighter./paramedic.
    “I love my work,”  said Kennrich. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Van Buren  Technology Center.”
    Lamphere, a former Van Buren Technology Center Law Enforcement  student graduate from Hartford High School, said her career path  also took a few turns; she wanted to be a teacher.
    But, after her junior year in Cadet Teaching at the Van Buren  Technology Center, “I decided I didn’t want to be a teacher,’ said Lamphere. She then spent  a few years as a reserve police officer with the Hartford Police Department, then went to Adrian College for a year. She finally graduated from Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Police  Academy.
    Lamphere said her biggest take away from the Technology Center was “the hands-on  learning. That’s how I decided I wanted to be a police officer and to step out of my comfort zone.” She currently serves as an officer  with the  Pokagon Tribal Police.
    Morris, who serves as executive director of Market Van Buren, spoke of his experience as a graduate of the VBISD’s  Technology Center Business Program and how the teachers and staff can impact individual student’s lives and play a role in growing the economic future of the community by developing strong talented people.
    Morris said, “My business program teacher, Tom Richardson, took an interest in not only me becoming a good student, but also becoming a complete person. He made sure we developed the right attitude, habits, and skills that would help us to become successful students, employees and community members.
    “... Successful communities have three important elements: strong businesses, vibrant communities, and talented people,” Morris continued. “The Van Buren ISD impacts all three in a positive way and is an  important part of our economic future.”
    Morris said, “The number one thing companies look for today when growing and locating somewhere is talent. The ISD plays a major role in business growth and attraction.”
    Morris attended the Business Program at the VBISD’s Technology Center from 1999-2001.
    VBISD Superintendent Jeff Mills said, “What a great opening day to have former students who at-tended one of the VBISD programs in the past, too  have them come back to share their journey through life and the positive impact the staff members have made on their career choice. This is the reason  we became educators.”
    Mills also expressed his thanks to Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Rick Reo  and Kris Perkins, the district’s technical director for the PAC, to allow the VBISD to use the facility.
    “The Paw Paw community must be very proud of this valuable asset.”

    2019 Service Awards were  presented to the following staff members during the opening day for the Van Buren Intermediate School District:
    45 years - Tonda Boothby
    35 years - Fred Knight
    30 years - Karen Adams, Tina Berchiatti, Mike Kelly
    25 years - Gretchen Schuman
    20 years - Judy Allison, Sue Dent-Rhodes, Sherry Miller, Jeff Mills, Judy Queen, Tom Richardson, Sharon Stacy, Julie Zantello
    15 years - Enedina Chavez, Scott Earls, Frank Lima, Theresa Ouzts, Jennifer Padgett, Maria Reyna, Kim Stathakis, Margaret Tesar, Laura VanDam
    10 years - Crystal Allison-Giesen, Anna Austin, Susan Carpenter, Suzanne DeGraves, Whitney Grant, Kim Heath, Sheryl Johnsen, Kristi Kerr, Karen King, Carrie Olson
    5 years  - Sofia Acevedo, Cari Konold, Carol Sue Anderson, Jennifer Krause, Stephanie Bahr, Sara Ledesma, Lynn Buchkowski, Kan-sadie Lehr, Heather Burleson, Ana Maack, Justin Cardenas, Melissa R. Nelson, Ann Carrizales, Lori Pusty, Phillip Earls, Kim Reynolds, Ray Gawel, Abbie Rylant, Sheila Hyde, Carol Smith, Kristi Hyder, Steve Smith, Kate Keller, Matt Wilger, Brianne Killeen

 

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