Let the applause begin.

The 2014 Mary Allan Fellows Award hits the banquet room at 4 p.m. Sept. 16, and the event's namesake couldn't be happier. This is, after all, Allan's way to honor teachers. The former state Teacher of the Year will put 18 teachers in the spotlight and highlight their contributions to educating area youth.

The annual event is sponsored by the Antioch Schools Education Foundation. Leading the pack is Kevin Jones, an Antioch High instructor who is also AUSD's teacher of the year. First runner-up, Julie Verhoek of Sutter Elementary, will also be honored.

The Fellows title also goes to Lisa Culcasi of Sutter Elementary, Tracey Davis-Watkins of Black Diamond Middle, Wes Standen of Deer Valley High and Shelly Werner of Marsh Elementary.

Finalists are Kevin Christensen, Antioch Middle; Miryt Furiosi, Sutter Elementary; Terri Hamilton, London Elementary; Rebecca Martin, Dallas Ranch Middle; and Pam Stawicki, AHS. The nominees are Jennifer Carrigan, London Elementary; Pearl DeCew, Antioch Middle; Anita Deepak, AHS; Kristina Fox, Orchard Park; Meagan Gargiulo, Turner Elementary; Kristine Koepke, Sutter; and Nick Wisely, AHS.

With 18 educators being honored, it's a big year for the Fellows team.

"Simply stated, these teachers beautifully represent the fine quality of teaching that is happening throughout the Antioch Unified School District," Allan said.

Here are some of her comments about the award recipients:


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  • Jones: "Kevin has provided the time, commitment and leadership to organize, launch and expand the EDGE (Engineering) Academy to a successful pathway option ... He's convinced the program works because students are engaged in personal projects that are relevant and tailored to students' interests."

  • Culcasi: "We observed the very best of what a Common Core math lesson looks and sounds like when you're applying the understanding of area and perimeter to real life. Her questioning strategies were exceptional."

  • Davis-Watkins: "As Tracey facilitated Newton's Law of Inertia, students worked collaboratively to design a system where they could drop an egg from 25 feet and not have it break. She made it relevant to everyday life by explaining that, like a seat belt, the egg (person) is protected by the material that surrounds."

  • Standen: "Wes' passion for the power of language, reading fine literature and writing with intention, radiated while reading 'Brave New World' with his class. (He pushed) his students to think about, 'It's not a level playing field out there. With what skills do you enter the world?' This was a powerful and relevant discussion for those seniors."

  • Werner: "Her commitment to giving her 'at promise' students hope is unparalleled. Due to her constant positive and respectful encouragement, all children willingly participated in physical activities that worked different muscle groups."

    In addition to the teachers being acknowledged, the event will feature the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Meiliwocki, as the keynote speaker.

    A seventh-grade English teacher in Burbank, Meiliwocki has taught for 18 years. In a bio to the Antioch Schools Education Foundation, she said: "Students learn best when they have the most enthusiastic, engaged teachers possible," adding she "values the teaching profession as a sought-after career and one that can transform our nation for the better. ... There is no one group of professionals whose work knits the fabric of this nation more together tightly than teachers.

    Allan said: "We are honored to have her join us and really looking forward to one of her dynamic, engaging speeches."

    She's also excited about "sharing the broad range of teaching styles, professional skills and life experiences represented by all the honorees."

    The event will be held at the Lone Tree Golf & Event Center, 4800 Gold Course Road in Antioch. For more information, to make reservations and to order tickets, visit www.asef.us or email Sue TenEyck at Teneyck5@comcast.net.

    Reach Trine Gallegos at TrineG@att.net.