Morse, Mork honored at Educators Reception

EDUCATIONAL CHEFS -- Kristin Morse (left) was named the 2016 Educator of the Year at the Educators Reception on Wednesday. DeLon Mork was named the Friend of Education. Charlotte Groce, former educator and chair of the GMACC Education Committee, presented the awards.There is more than one type of food in the world, said Charlotte Groce, the chair of the Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce Education Committee.

Besides hot dogs with mustard and double chocolate cake, she referenced what she called "non-material sustenance."

This food is "offered only in the gourmet store known as school" and is "turned into intellectual muscle."

On Wednesday, Groce told area educators gathered for the GMACC Educators Reception: "Today we celebrate the food for the mind and the spirit that is offered to our students on a daily basis."

Each school or educational organization took a few moments to share the "new ingredients [added] to their educational stew."

Angi Kappenman, human resources director at Dakota State University, announced the names of 14 new faculty. Stacy Krusemark, DSU's vice president for business and administrative services, gave an update on the construction projects on campus. The three projects represent about $28 million in construction, he said.

At St. Thomas School, Principal Cate Luvaas reported on two new teachers and noted that the school is now offering all-day preschool, in addition to the half-day option.

At Madison Central, new Superintendent Joel Jorgenson mentioned five new teachers and said that preliminary attendance numbers show an increase of 19 students, to a total enrollment of 1,171 students.

Madison Christian School Administrator Jackie Salmen discussed the community service events the school is involved with, including new projects of collecting funds for Fostering Hope and making cookies for law enforcement.

ECCO Executive Director Vicki Kommes discussed the special education projects, including teaching voting skills. Julie Gross, representing Junior Achievement, recapped that organization's accomplishments for 2015-16.

Groce then introduced two "chefs" who add to the Madison educational kitchen -- the 2016 Educator of the Year and the Friend of Education.

Kristin Morse, first-grade teacher at Madison Elementary, was almost speechless after being named the Educator of the Year. She had nominated another teacher and was shocked to learn that she was chosen.

When Morse found her words, she said, "I don't ever remember not wanting to be a teacher. It was my be an educator."

The nominating letter said Morse was not only an educator but an "extraordinary teacher," holding reading and writing celebrations for her students, providing extra time on math concepts and finding books at the students' level.

She puts in "countless hours in her classroom to ensure each student receives a quality education," the letter read.

Morse said that when she sees the students' growth, it's worth the long hours.

The Friend of Education honoree, DeLon Mork, joked that working in fast food, he had "never been called a chef."

He noted other educational "chefs," including Madison elementary teachers like Morse who are "absolutely fantastic.

``We're in good hands in Madison Central," he said.

He also gave credit to District 8 legislators who were in attendance -- Sen. Scott Parsley (D) and Rep. Mathew Wollmann (R) -- for taking the Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendations through the "sausage mill" of the Legislature and starting the process of getting "our teachers the salaries they deserve."

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