Neighbours students receive Swan Awards

Wabash City Schools' elementary school Kathy Swan Award winners included Sawyer Cantrell, Briar Stoffel, Sutton Stoffel, (not pictured) Nicholas Campbell, Kyndall Shear and Lily-Ann Abshire. Photo by Josh Sigler

By Josh Sigler

Wabash City Schools honored its elementary school Kathy Swan Award winners during the May 6 board meeting at O.J. Neighbours Elementary School.

Kathy Swan was a revered teacher in the Wabash City Schools system who tragically lost her life in a 2005 plane crash.

“She really had a heart for the kids,” Superintendent Jason Callahan said. “Kathy was a dedicated servant to the students. Out of that tragedy, we wanted to do something in Kathy’s memory, so we created this award. We love this award because the recipients of this award receive it without ever knowing about it. There’s no application process. Every year a child in every grade level from kindergarten to 12th grade receives the award. They receive it by being nominated by their teachers.”

The teachers are asked to identify students who embody the spirit that Swan was remembered for. They are hard-working students who come in day after day with a smile on their face and known for their hard work.

Kindergarten teacher Lisa Brewer nominated student Sawyer Cantrell.

Brewer said Cantrell was very shy and didn’t like to talk to adults upon entering school.

But, that very quickly turned around.

“At the beginning of the year, he needed help with the recognition of letters and numbers, and he worked very hard in a small group setting,” Brewer said. “This allowed Sawyer to gain confidence. His scores at the middle of the year increased a lot. He’s still learning every day. He began reading in the middle of the year, and he’s doing a great job right now.
“Sawyer loves to come to school. He has a smile on his face and comes in and shakes my hand every morning.”

First grade teacher Keisha Wright presented awards to Briar and Sutton Stoffel.

“There is so much to celebrate about these two young ladies,” Wright said. “Briar and Sutton’s work ethic is (second) to none, and has proven that hard work truly pays off. They both came into first grade to learn and put forth their very best effort. A smile never leaves their faces. They are both very inquisitive and generally excited about learning each and every day.”

Second grade teacher Rachel McWhirt presented the award on behalf of Nicholas Campbell, who was unable to attend the meeting.

McWhirt said Campbell inspires her.

“He comes to school with a smile on his face every day, and he always gives his best effort,” McWhirt said. “He faces challenges head on, and he works diligently and cooperatively to grasp what is being taught. He is eager to please and willing to take risks in an effort to grow in the classroom. Nicholas maintains a positive attitude and he does not give up. He consistently demonstrates perseverance, patience and courage. In addition to his academic efforts, Nicholas also demonstrates a manner of respect and kindness.”

Third grade teacher Jenny Tyner presented the award to Kyndall Shear.

Tyner said Shear is a leader by her actions and her words.

“She always makes the right choices, and she encourages her classmates to do the same,” Tyner said. “I can always count on her to do what is right. She also has a servant’s attitude. She is willing to help and be counted on to get the job done right.”

Fourth grade teacher Janet Sparks presented the award to Lily-Ann Abshire.

Sparks said Abshire has a positive attitude and always greats people with a smile.

“Lily-Ann Abshire is a friend to all who are lucky enough to be in her company,” Sparks said. “When Lily entered my classroom, she did so quietly. And, while she remains a quiet and thoughtful student, she is always at the top of her game with great knowledge. … Lily-Ann has overcome many obstacles in her personal life. She has an amazing heart, and often is trying to think of ways to help others from people to animals.”

And, senior Aaron Nickerson was awarded his Kathy Swan Award at the meeting. He was unable to attend the meeting at the high school.

Callahan presented the award, and said Nickerson’s teachers raved about him.

“He’s so dedicated,” Callahan said. “He always has a smile on his face, always positive. He’s a great team member who’s supportive of his teammates. … He is also a great student. One teacher commented ‘having Aaron in class is easy. He always shows up with a positive attitude, and turns in quality work and helps others. It’s very rewarding to work with seniors who see the value of hard work, treat their peers with respect, and have such great potential.’”

Posted on 2019 May 14