Central DeWitt CSD Employee of the Month

FEBRUARY 2024

Hagan Ackley

Congratulations to Hagan Ackley the February Central DeWitt Community School District Employee of the Month!  

In his first year of teaching at Central DeWitt, Special Education Teacher Mr. Ackley has already made a huge impact on both students and staff at Ekstrand Elementary. His ability to form strong relationships with students and his willingness to support his co-workers is what makes him a valuable part of our Saber family and our employee of the month.

“Mr. Ackley is a valuable asset to our Saber community,” First Grade Teacher Mrs. Dirksen said. “He is extremely patient with his students. He builds a lasting relationship, so each student knows that he cares about their individual needs. But, not only does he do that for his students, he builds relationships through collaboration, and concern for the teachers as well.” 

Mr. Ackley said part of why he relates to students who struggle with behaviors in school is because elementary school was a difficult time for him.

“I caused a little trouble here and there and I think something for me was I connected with one of my teachers very well in about the second or third grade,” Mr. Ackley said. “She established the mindset in me that I can do anything as long as I try my best and I put my best foot forward. I'd say that's something that really inspired me to be in education.”

Throughout his many years working with youth and teaching, Mr. Ackley discovered he had a deep passion for helping kids work through their problems and teaching them how to self-regulate. He finds having an open mind and the perspective that “everybody, no matter who they are when they come to school, might have something going on that you don't know about” helps him understand behaviors. He also finds it’s important to be respond calmly rather than react to a situation.

“His demeanor with his students is very calming, kind and caring. He talks through many tough situations with the students and gives them guidance on ways to improve moving forward,” Ann Bixby, District School Nurse said.

Mr. Ackley is grateful for the grace staff and administration have shown him while settling into his position this year. He also gives them, as well as the overall environment at Ekstrand Elementary, for helping him find success as a teacher.

“We have a wonderful support staff, whether it is associates that are helping me throughout the day or the teachers that I work with and collaborate with, we're all in it for the same goal,” he said. “And, I know some days it can feel like we're doing so many academic things but one thing I've gathered here in DeWitt is we're in the business of making well-rounded, good people. And, that with all of that at our core, I think it enables us to really establish great routines and expectations for students. You can just see it when you walk around the building how great it is here.”

Mr. Ackley said he feels at home here in the Central DeWitt Community School District and looks forward to the day his newborn son will attend school here. We look forward to that, too! Thank you, Mr. Ackley, for your calming demeanor, encouragement, and dedication which helps so many at Central DeWitt. We are lucky to have you!

JANUARY 2024

Doug Crank

Congratulations to Doug Crank the January Central DeWitt Community School District Employee of the Month!  

If you visit any of our schools, chances are you’ll run into Doug Crank. That’s because as assistant to buildings and grounds, Mr. Crank does a little bit of everything in every Central DeWitt building. He is responsible for maintaining and fixing electrical and plumbing, keeping the grounds safe and manicured, he helps move things, deliver things, pick up things, and he even drives a school bus route before and after school. In fact, it’s impossible to list all of the ways Mr. Crank contributes to make Central DeWitt the best it can be.

 Mr. Crank enjoys the variety of tasks that come with his job. But what he won’t tell you because he is modest, is that he and the other operations employees, often face demanding and dangerous conditions while on the job. During winter months when there is ice or snow, they begin snow removal, salting sidewalks and parking lots, and preparing buses as early as 2:30 or 3:30 a.m. to ensure the safety of students and staff when they arrive for the school day.

 “Doug often contributes greatly in so many ways within our buildings,” Netty Schneider, CDIS secretary, said. “It’s reassuring to know that there are dedicated individuals like him who go above and beyond to ensure that our roads/sidewalks are clear, even in the harshest of weather.”

 It isn’t just his hard work that is appreciated by students and staff, it’s also his can-do attitude and friendly demeanor.

 “He is so kind and always puts a smile on my face and says “hi” to me when he sees me,” sixth grader Charlotte Pauly said.

 Mr. Crank enjoys interacting with students and gets a kick out of running into those who ride his bus in the halls and hearing them tell their friends, “That’s my bus driver.” He also enjoys the people he works with, some of who have become his closest friends.

In the six years that Mr. Crank has worked at Central DeWitt, he has become a beloved employee that can always be counted on and we are grateful to have him in our Saber family!   

DECEMBER 2023

BRITTANY WEDEKING

We are excited to announce that 5th-8th Band Teacher Brittany Wedeking has been chosen as the December Central DeWitt Community School District Employee of the Month!

In the numerous nominations Mrs. Wedeking received, it is very clear her students feel valued by her and they appreciate her authenticity. Again and again, students mentioned how patient, kind, and fun she is as a teacher. They also admire how she helps them persevere when struggling to learn something new.

“She has taught me things I thought I could never learn,” student Raylee Swanson said. “And, she gets it when you don’t know how to do something or when you’re having a rough day. There are not enough people in the world that are like Mrs. Wedeking.”

 For Mrs. Wedeking, her love of teaching band isn’t just about students learning to play an instrument. The more meaningful part for her are the life lessons, such as accountability, discipline, responsibility, teamwork and resiliency, students learn while being a part of a large team. She also added that it’s an experience for students unlike anything else with many other benefits.

“My research in college was all about how music is the only activity that you can do that uses all the parts of your brain together. It helps train your brain to do other things well,” Mrs. Wedeking said.

During her 11 years teaching at Central DeWitt, Brittany has shown unwavering dedication and commitment to helping students achieve their full potential. Her unique ability to connect with her students, making them feel heard and understood, fosters a positive learning environment students look forward to attending. She will no doubt continue to be a favorite for many more students!

NOVEMBER 2023

ANGELA HOFER

We are excited to announce that CDIS 5thGrade Teacher Angela Hofer has been chosen as the November Central DeWitt Community School District Employee of the Month!

 It’s evident when you speak with Mrs. Hofer that she genuinely cares about each child's well-being and strives to provide them with the necessary support and guidance to reach their full potential. She goes beyond teaching academic skills to emphasize the importance of kindness, empathy, and inclusion. She feels it’s important to instill those qualities at a young age in hopes students will carry it with them the rest of their lives.  

She also strongly believes in leading by example and often shares her experiences of spreading and encountering kindness with her students.

 This fall on a trip to Wisconsin, Mrs. Hofer came across SMACK cards which stand for “Spreading Messages of Affirmation + Compassion + Kindness.” Each card, which Mrs. Hofer loves to leave for people wherever she goes, has words of kindness and encouragement on them. After sharing these cards with her class, she discovered one of her students made their own version of cards and gave them to her classmates. Mrs. Hofer was so touched by this gesture that she reached out to SMACK to let them know how they inspired her student which prompted SMACK to send the student her own set of cards.  

 Her commitment to spreading kindness and promoting a positive learning environment has had a huge impact on her students as well as Central DeWitt Intermediate School as a whole.

 “Her commitment to fostering a positive learning environment has created a ripple effect within CDIS,” CDIS Principal Spencer Lueders said. “Her influence reaches beyond the academic realm, shaping individuals into confident and compassionate learners. We appreciate the work that she does every day!”

 A few years ago, Mrs. Hofer started the Kindness Crew which has become wildly popular at CDIS. The Kindness Crew is a group of students who come together to spread kindness and positivity in the school and in the community. They enthusiastically greet students and staff on Friday mornings in front of the school to start the day off on a positive note. They also participate in several acts of kindness throughout the community such as playing games with Fieldstone residents, hosting canned food drives and “Socktober” where they collect socks for those in need. Kindness Crew members are also becoming more involved at school assemblies with the goal to host them in the future.

 “Not only is Angie a great teacher and leader, but she champions a Kindness Crew and encourages kids to volunteer for Inclusion activities,” Central DeWitt parent Amie Strohman-Figley said. “She strives to make sure everyone knows they matter and this is above and beyond typical classroom duties. She has really made a significant, positive impact on my daughter. We need more people who think this way.”

 Eli Voss, a Central DeWitt parent who also nominated Mrs. Hofer, credits her for the positive changes in his child as well. He said that because of Mrs. Hofer his child looks forward to attending school this year and has gained confidence to become more involved.

“(Mrs. Hofer) is a positive adult female for her to be around and look up to,” Voss said. “It's very apparent to me how positively she is being impacted due to the changes I've seen in her just from the beginning of the school year.”

 In the 25 years Mrs. Hofer has taught at Central DeWitt, she has been a shining example of what it means to be a dedicated and compassionate employee. We are grateful to have her as a part of our Saber family and hope her kindness and dedication continue to inspire us all.

OCTOBER 2023

LAURIE WILDES

We are excited to announce that Laurie Wildes has been chosen as the very first Central DeWitt Community School District Employee of the Month! 

Mrs. Wildes has been with the CDCSD for over 30 years, even retiring once and coming back when help was needed. She has worn many hats over the years including kitchen manager,  job coach, associate for the BD program, junior class sponsor, bleacher supervisor, middle school coach, and this year, a speech class monitor. 

What stands out about Mrs. Wildes isn’t just the number of responsibilities she has taken on over the years, but her positive attitude, willingness to help without hesitation, and her unwavering dedication. In 28 years of supervising the bleachers at football games, she has only missed one Friday night to attend her daughter’s rehearsal dinner. 

According to CDHS Industrial Technology Teacher Tom Prombo, Mrs. Wildes tries every day to make our schools a better place by giving help where needed. 

“She is an old-school, hardworking lady whose efforts and caring show in the school,” Mr. Prombo said.

Mrs. Wildes makes it very clear that her number one priority is the students and their well-being. She has always felt comfortable interacting with students and does whatever she can to make sure they have a great school experience.

Freshman Hailee Peters acknowledged how Mrs. Wildes shows genuine concern for students by asking how they are doing in the hallways and freshman Patrick Soesbe said Mrs. Wildes “is the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time).”

We couldn’t agree more! Thank you Mrs. WIldes for all you have done and continue to do for CDCSD!

The Central DeWitt Community School District Employee of the Month program is meant to show appreciation for the efforts of employees who contribute to our success and help fulfill our mission statement. Outstanding employees deserve to be recognized for both their exceptional performance and for being a role model to our students and other employees.

This district-wide program gives Central DeWitt employees, parents, students and community members the opportunity to help us recognize outstanding employees by sharing positive personal experiences. We encourage you to take a moment to nominate a deserving Central DeWitt employee today!

All full-time and part-time employees are eligible to be nominated for employee of the month. An employee may be chosen as the employee of the month only once during the current school year. Employees who were nominated, but not chosen as the employee of the month, will be recognized as “Saber Superstars” on social media.

We are excited to receive nominations and celebrate the hard work and dedication of our employees!