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.

Nominations are being accepted now through Sunday, May 9th!


Click here to nominate a teacher!


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 2020


Avious Jackson

Mason High School Teacher of the Year

MHS Band Teacher Avious Jackson is the MHS Above and Beyond teacher of the year for 2020.  Mr. Jackson’s nominations came from the entire trumpet section!   He’s a terrific example of a teacher connecting and making a true difference.

“This man keeps it real. He works many after hours. He is demanding and sets a high bar but keeps the class fun. He will govern with a stick but also a carrot! He has a fantastic can-do attitude. During the many hours of practice Mr. Jackson would spend extra time with students to ensure each team was getting the support and help they may have needed. He is so good at what he does and effective in an incredible way. Waking through the band with jumbo scissors to make you fear being cut from the front line, and laugh! So many times, I watched him listen to a group of players and he could, in an instant, point out the most minor out-of-tune tone from a single player in the group. He also worked tirelessly on fundraising for our band to have everything we could need to stand out among the top organizations in the State. His leadership makes a difference to Mason.”

Renee McCord

Mason Middle School Teacher of the Year 

MMS Science teacher, Renee McCord, is the MMS Above and Beyond Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020.   Her nominations came from other staff members.

“Renee pours her heart and soul into her students every day. She incorporates character as well as Science content into her daily lessons. She truly takes the time to listen to each of her students and help them be their best self. Her contributions to the Science department help us teach our students in new and exciting labs and activities. She constantly looks for ways to improve herself and her teaching skills. She attended the NSTA Conference (National Science Teachers Association) this year and she even went to a week long Science camp in Wyoming before school started last year! She spent time learning how to bring kids back to the outdoors. She has openly shared all of these experiences with her colleagues. The students know that Renee truly puts their health and well being ahead of everything in her class. She is fantastic!”


Whitney Decker

Mason Intermediate School Teacher of the Year 

MMS Sixth Grade teacher, Whitney Decker, is the MI Above and Beyond Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020.   Her nominations came from current and former parents.

“Whitney makes learning fun! She goes above and beyond in every way in teaching. Not only was she incremental in helping Mason city schools pass the Levy, but during remote learning she has worked hard to make the students feel special including stopping at their individual houses with treats. She has weekly, if not daily, communication with students and parents making sure everyone is up-to-date with what is going on as well as wanting to learn about their lives outside of the classroom during this strange time. She is a teacher that truly cares about her students and their families in every way!

Outside of the classroom, Whitney was our go-to teacher for the Mason Levy. She attended almost every meeting, captained the teacher campaign, collected signatures, canvassed every day, called parents, and personally connected with every teacher and staff member who did not vote 1 week before the April 28th deadline.

Terri Thacker

Mason Elementary School Teacher of the Year 

ME Fourth Grade teacher, Terri Thacker, is the ME Above and Beyond Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020.   Her nominations came from parents and students.

“Her style of teaching is amazing and she is very hard working. I have never seen a teacher who dedicates 1 hour of online teaching in this pandemic to read a loud a book to her 4th grader’s! Her unique way of motivating kids to write is impressive and not just write, she checks every line, story or essay and gives directions for improvement. How she helped my daughter improve handwriting, grammar and stamina is outstanding. She went above and beyond before and during the pandemic! Out of the many day to day above and beyond examples, I chose the one that gave direction to my child’s future. Ms. Thacker was quick to analyze my daughter can pick up reading and writing. She motivated her to write and read daily, helped her chose the right material. How to improvise and keep her engaged without overdoing it. Today my child is part of book club, and has read 3 Harry Potter’s! This is just the story of one student! And its possible because of Ms. Thacker.”

Elizabeth Weddle

Mason Early Childhood Center Teacher of the Year 

MECC Kindergarten teacher, Elizabeth Weddle, is the MECC Above and Beyond Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020.   Her nominations came from other staff members.

Elizabeth is ALWAYS helping others, but this year she not only helped us learn new things or figure out problems – she helped our Kindergarten staff so that we ALL could make our Remote Learning successful for our students. Our students and families (and us!) were starting from scratch as we did not use these platforms with our young learners. It was A LOT of learning for classroom teachers. Technology is Elizabeth’s strength and we all looked to her for help. She never let any of us down. She would reply to a text or an email in minutes, figure out problems even when she didn’t know the solutions initially and went out and found things and answers to help everything we were using run smoother (often times before the rest of us even knew to ask – ha!). Elizabeth didn’t just take her students Above and Beyond, she helped our Kindergarten staff to be able to take ALL of our students Above and Beyond. She works tirelessly and is always humble and will just say, “it’s what we do for kids” or “it’s what our kids deserve.” We would like to be able to take an opportunity to celebrate her and thank her for helping us to be able to allow us to express our creativity, reach out to our students and teach them and love them through this unprecedented time. I remember I had come up with an idea for a lesson and I had spent forever trying to get the technology part to work (to add an extra interactive part), I reached out to her and at first she didn’t know. I said not to worry about it, I would just leave that part out and she said, “no, there’s got to be a way, we will figure it out so you can do it.” Of course, she did figure it out (and I’m so glad she did , the lesson was much better with that interactive piece!). This year, this pandemic, the saying was – we will get through this together. Elizabeth helped make us Better Together!”

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