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Board honors distinguished employees


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December 06, 2012
“You are what makes Grosse Pointe public schools the school system it is,” superintendent Tom Harwood said to the distinguished honorees Monday, Nov. 26, at the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education’s regular meeting, during which the board recognized the district’s distinguished employees. It’s the fifth year of the recognition.


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The Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education honored 10 employees for its fifth annual Distinguished Employee Service Award.
“They are nominated by colleagues of the school system itself for their wonderful talents, their skills and what they give to our students on a daily basis,” Harwood said. “There were many individuals nominated for tonight and we are fortunate to have 10 of those individuals.”

The 10 distinguished employees are:

•Patricia Curtis-Gough, who has served as department chair of Grosse Pointe North High School’s student center, in Grosse Pointe South High School’s and Pierce Middle School’s resource rooms and Defer Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization president;

•Beverly Forsyth, an art teacher of 30-plus years in Grosse Pointe who’s currently at Ferry and Mason elementary schools;

•Michelle Hartman, computer lab assistant at Monteith Elementary School who organizes press releases, the web site, daily video announcements and coordinates the school’s green team;

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•Dianne McPharlin, a resource room teacher at Maire Elementary School who helped found the school’s homework club and Positive Behavioral Support initiatives;

•Barry Novak, coach and hall monitor at Pierce who also leads, organizes and officiates the morning intramural program, which meets at 7:45 a.m. four days a week;

•Joanna Porvin, “a woman of many hats” at Brownell Middle School who co-facilitated the STAND (Students Taking A New Direction) program, which promotes student leadership and positive decision making, and funded the Green Education Action Recreation program, which raises community awareness by engaging students in recreational and advocacy opportunities;

•Lisa Rheaume, fourth grade teacher at Mason Elementary School who worked with Ryan Francis to co-sponsor the school’s one school, one book activity and its safety, service squad and recycling teams. She also represents Grosse Pointe as a Galileo Consortium participant;

•Sheila Russo, Defer Elementary School office clerk who controls the monthly newsletter and oversees volunteers during lunch to ensure a smooth operation;

•Richard VanGorder, a district manager of buildings and grounds who spearheaded energy and lighting projects to help save the district money on its energy budget. He’s also an active leader on the green team and works closely with administrators and local municipalities for proactive emergency planning purposes; and

•Geoffrey Young, the English department chair at North for more than 10 years who also developed and leads a leadership studies course for freshmen assist mentors, leads the freshmen assist team and helped revamp the professional learning community.

In their honor, employees received a special globe, representative of the gifts they provide to the district and its students.

“It goes to the depth of the skills and the interactions that these individuals have with our students,” Harwood said.

Board trustee Joan Dindoffer and vice president Lois Valente served as the award committee, reviewing nominations and recommending the list of honorees.

“I want to thank all the volunteers and all of our employees because those 10 employees who go above and beyond are reflective of many, many hundreds of employees who go above and beyond every day,” Dindoffer said. “And these are just the 10 best of the best in terms of distinguished service to the district.”


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