Above & Beyond Teacher Recognition

At the heart of what we love about our schools here in  Mason are hard-working teachers and staff who regularly go the extra mile for our kids.  This award is given annually to Mason teachers who exemplify the values of the Mason Schools Foundation by taking students “Above and Beyond”. 

The Mason Schools Foundation is impressed by the many ways our educators have stepped-up during this unprecedented time. Whether teaching in person or online, all of our teachers have gone Above and Beyond for their students everyday.

The annual award is traditionally given to two teachers (one elementary (K-6) and one secondary (7-12)) who exemplify the values of the Foundation by taking their students “Above and Beyond.”  THIS YEAR – we will be granting one teacher from each building (MECC, ME, MI, MMS, MHS) this award. Each winner will receive a $250 grant to use during the next school year. Award winners will be announced in late May and be recognized at the fall MSF Gala.


In the spring of each school year the Foundation will solicit nominations from the community for the award. Community members use this form to describe how this teacher takes his/her students “Above and Beyond” and return it to the Mason Schools Foundation.

  1. The Mason Schools Foundation will select the recipients at the May board meeting.
  2. Grants will be awarded during the Staff Appreciation event at the end of the year.
  3. Funding will be available at the beginning of the following school year.
  4. Recipients will be asked to submit a grant report form to the Grant committee indicating how he/she used the funds to benefit our Mason students.

Above & Beyond Teacher Award Winners 2021

Elizabeth Coleman

Mason High School Teacher of the Year

AP Biology teacher, Elizabeth Coleman, was not going to let a pandemic get in the way of teaching her students this year.  As with all AP classes the amount of content students have to learn is taught in a much more condensed time frame. Mrs. Coleman went above and beyond to assure that her students, both in the classroom and those online in quarantine, stayed on track and did not fall behind.

Mrs. Coleman would regularly spend hours after school preparing detailed agendas and lesson plans to help her students prioritize their time and focus on their studies. She created interesting and engaging lectures and recorded them, covering content taught in class for her quarantined students to watch. She even added extra content for everyone that time did not allow to be covered in class. When it was time for the AP exam, she spent the week prior in daily hour-long review sessions driven by student questions.

Elizabeth Coleman clearly exemplifies the values of the Mason Schools Foundation and it was no surprise that she was nominated by one of her students who she greatly impacted this year!  We are honored to present her with this award!  Congratulations, Mrs. Coleman!

Lindsay Nealis

Mason Middle School Teacher of the Year 

For many, coming to the middle school can bring on feelings of anxiety and fear of the unknown. But teachers like 7th grade math teacher, Lindsay Nealis, immediately make the transition exciting and smooth.

Mrs. Nealis is well known for being an amazing math teacher. She goes above and beyond every day in her classroom making learning exciting and ensuring that her students feel safe to take risks as learners. She is also known to often sacrifice her lunch break to meet with students who need one on one instruction to better understand a lesson. If you ever have the chance to visit Lindsay‘s classroom you will observe how evident it is that her students have fun while learning new math strategies and concepts.

One parent, who was planning to opt her son out of taking the honors math MAP test, was surprised when he asked her not to. She commented, “I was stunned since I had figured he would gladly opt out!” The student had been working hard with Mrs. Nealis and wanted to prove to her and himself all that he had learned and that he could raise his math score.

It is known that culture is the foundation for what our school district is built on and Mrs. Nealis exemplifies Comet Culture in all she does. For this and many other reasons Lindsay Nealis stood out for this recognition.  Congratulations, Mrs. Nealis!


Chelsea Wirtz

Mason Intermediate School Teacher of the Year

This year, amidst a pandemic, Mrs. Wirtz stepped away from her traditional classroom with a passion to teach students from home who chose to participate in online learning. Through many hiccups and obstacles Mrs. Wirtz always made virtual learning look easy to her students.

Mrs Wirtz was nominated for this prestigious award by one of her virtual students who said, “Mrs. Wirtz is available for us 24 hours a day. She is always making sure we strive for our best and will respond even if I send a message in the evening!”

Mrs. Wirtz did not allow the challenges of teaching from home get in the way of assuring her students excelled in their studies. Through her daily morning messages, morning meetings, class time and office hours she made sure she was available anytime her students needed, far exceeding anyone’s expectations. Chelsea Wirtz not only exemplifies the values of our foundation, she has been an advocate of our mission and goals for many years.  Mrs. Wirtz regularly shares how MSF has made a huge impact on her students and the community by supporting her ideas to take educational experiences above and beyond and by funding grants such as author visits and her Mock Newberry Reading Book Club.  Congratulations, Mrs. Wirtz!



Christine Toth

Mason Elementary School Teacher of the Year

This year Mrs. Toth left the traditional classroom setting to teach 3rd grade students whose parents chose online learning during a global pandemic. One parent raved, “We have always been impressed by the wonderful teachers at Mason, but Mrs. Toth definitely exemplified what it meant to go above and beyond this year!”

Mrs. Toth is known for being hard-working, understanding, flexible and patient which was important to ensure a smooth transition to virtual teaching. With almost double the number of students that she would have had in a classroom setting, Mrs Toth made the transition for her students look effortless! She did a wonderful job making them feel comfortable and excited to learn in an online environment.  Conducting live lessons to reinforce asynchronous videos and spending one-on-one time with each student to personally get to know them and assure they understood content was part of Mrs. Toth‘s daily routine. She also knew the importance of having open communication with families. It was impressive how Mrs. Toth would make changes throughout the year to the way she would teach by working with families and encouraging their feedback to maximize learning for her students.

Mrs. Toth also understood that having a social aspect to the school year for her virtual students was just as important as their academics. Several times during the week she would host a “lunch bunch” where her students could have lunch together, talk and just be kids.

To sum it up another parent said, “Mrs. Toth’s kindness, understanding and positive attitude made this year one of the BEST my child has ever had. Mrs. Toth is gold in our book!”   Congratulations, Mrs. Toth!

Jamie Bunch

Mason Early Childhood Center Teacher of the Year

Mrs. Bunch is well known as a teacher who continually goes above and beyond creating fun learning environments that bring education to life for her students. Each and every day her second graders come to class excited to see what new learning adventure Mrs. Bunch is going to take them on that day! She has a unique ability to engage and support every student and her bright smile and bubbly personality shows that she is just as excited to teach her kids as they are to learn creating many “mason moments” in and out of the classroom.

One parent commented, “Mrs. Bunch goes above and beyond every day by making sure every student is part of the learning experience. Some may say that is part of the job, but to me that is pretty amazing!”

Mrs. Bunch exemplifies the values of The Mason Schools Foundation and she could not be more deserving of this recognition!  Congratulations, Mrs. Bunch!

Vance Reid – MHS
Monica Johnston – MECC

Libby Beck – WR
Alissa Mahoney – MI
Laura Tonkin – MMS
Carol Lehman – MHS

Micah Ewing – MHS
Christine Yoda – MI

BJ Smallwood – MECC
Lazuta/Hillenmeyer Team – WR
Dee Dee Messer – MHS
Aimee Hansen – MHS
Lauren Richardson – MMS


Kelly Gholz – WR
Amy Ortega – MHS

Team Patriots- MI (Tereba, Grable, DeVore)
MMS Chorus—Debra Jones and Holly Schreier

Sarah Flohr—MECC
Anne Tohey—MHS

Mike Williams-WR
Susan Hannigan and Pam Tanghal-MMS

Ali Green -WR

Marylee Vennemeyer—WR
Jill Arminio—MMS

Original Above and Beyond Teacher
Deb Perry—MHS