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 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 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 2022

Timothy King

Mason High School Teacher of the Year

Mr. King is loved by all and described as welcoming, kind, caring, funny, a genuinely good soul. Student Ashley Berry shared, “Everywhere he goes he brings happiness with him and makes the best out of any situation. He is so helpful and understanding and wants everyone to succeed.“ Classmate Domenica Marietta added, “He always goes the extra mile to make sure we understand what we are being taught and I can’t thank him enough for that.”  Mr. King is known to adapt his teaching style to the needs of all of his students. He is very hands-on and follows their lead to determine the best way for his students to learn.
In addition to teaching junior English Mr. King leads Words from the Wild, an environmental literature course for seniors who love the great outdoors. It was touching to learn that when grading required journal entries Mr. King included a sheet of paper of his own. Kaylee Rennekamp went on to explain, “Throughout the year, he collects his thoughts of each student on the paper. He writes things such as why the student stands out to him or how he believes they will impact the world. Receiving these papers at the end of the class was one of the most heartwarming experiences I have had. He wants all of his students to know they are important and he goes out of his way to prove it.” Student Grace Major said, “Mr. King is a teacher I will look back on in future years and be grateful for being in his class.”
Mr. King and his wife Amy moved from Dayton to Mason 38 years ago where they raised their three children who all graduated from Mason High School. When not teaching, he enjoys spending time outdoors fly fishing, birding, hiking, and canoeing. Learning this made it clear why Mr. King was a perfect fit to teach Words from the Wild.  Mr. King goes ‘Above and Beyond’ every single day and clearly exemplifies the values of the Mason Schools Foundation. It was our honor to recognize him as the 2022 Teacher of the Year!
Congratulations, Mr. Timothy King!

Lisa Speiller

Mason Middle School Teacher of the Year 

Mrs. Speiller was nominated for Teacher of the Year by a parent who went on to explain how impressed she was that in a large district Mrs. Speiller takes time to truly get to know each and every one of her students. More importantly she not only notices when they are thriving but also when they become withdrawn. It is known that Mrs. Speiller goes above and beyond to assure that her students are doing OK. She checks in with parents and other teachers to talk about any concerns that she has, to see if there are any patterns. “Parents don’t really know how their kids are at school but it is where they spend most of their time,” said parent Tonya Hartma. “I so appreciate Mrs. Speiller for going out of her way to do what is right, even when no one is watching.”
In addition to teaching language arts, Mrs. Speiller also serves as the chairperson of the One School, One Book Planning Committee, a program where students along with all staff members at the Middle School (including administrators, teachers, administrative assistants, food service employees, custodians, etc.) engage in a shared reading experience. Speak Up, Write Now! and Media MakerSpace are two elective courses at the Middle School that your student may have taken in the past. Mrs. Speiller also collaborated with a team to create these courses, which help students extend classroom skills and share their stories with an authentic audience. This is yet another example of Lisa Speiller not only going above and beyond inside of her classroom but outside of it as well.  Congratulations, Mrs. Speiller!


Litty Mathai

Mason Intermediate School Teacher of the Year

Mrs. Mathai is known for her optimistic and encouraging demeanor and for playing games to help students learn challenging content in a super fun way. “I always look forward to walking into Mrs. Mathai’s classroom and learning from her every day. She makes it such a great learning environment so that I can do my very best every day. And she makes my very best even better.” Claire, current student.  There are countless ways Litty Mathai goes ‘above and beyond’ in her classroom. At the beginning of the year she gives up her lunch break to meet in small groups to get to know her students and to allow them the opportunity to get to get to know each other as well. She also finds ways to build their confidence and challenges them daily to be risk takers and to step out of their comfort zone. One example is by motivating her class to read more challenging books with the benefit of joining a “Lunch Bunch Book Club”. Mrs. Mathai again gives up her lunch period monthly to host this book club where her students are able to discuss different writing styles, genres and cultural differences.
Mrs. Mathai knows the importance of being able to speak comfortably in front of an audience and provides many opportunities in class for her students to gain confidence in doing so. They participate in a poetry slam contest, class debates and class presentations. She also strives to build their confidence to be leaders in and out of the classroom. “I feel that my main job as a teacher that stretches beyond academics is a “seed planter” planting seeds of confidence and possibility,” Mrs. Mathai shared. She is often seen conferencing with her students giving feedback on their public speaking, daily assignments and work habits. It is clear that Mrs. Mathai regularly goes out of her way to assure that each and every one of her students succeed. “Mrs. Mathai is an amazing teacher and deserves this award,” said parent Christine Mickelson. “Not only are students trying out public speaking and working on poetry skills, they are also building a community of peers that support and encourage one another.”  Congratulations, Mrs. Mathai!

Maggie Moschell

Mason Elementary School Teacher of the Year

When you walk into Maggie Moschell’s classroom you can’t help but smile at the beautiful artwork displayed around the room! Mrs. Mo, as her students fondly call her, strives to make sure each student feels confident and sees themselves as an artist. She stresses the importance of knowing there isn’t one right way when being creative with art materials and that every one of her students are talented. Mrs. Mo’s art students thrive knowing they are free to be themselves!
Not only was Mrs. Moschell nominated by parent Amanda Smith, but also by her daughter Meeghan who is a current 4th grader at Mason Elementary. “When my daughter talks about her art teacher Mrs. Mo, her eyes light up,” Amanda shared. “When she shows me the amazing art that she has made in Mrs. Mo’s classroom, my eyes light up.”  Meeghan looks forward to art class every week where she said Mrs. Mo makes everyone feel important, special and inspired to create a unique masterpiece. “Mrs. Mo has shown me that my artwork is beautiful and that I should be proud of myself and my work,” she shared.  Mrs. Moschell recognized that students needed an outlet to express their feelings throughout the pandemic and decided to start weekly art themed lessons to help them during this confusing time. “For her first social emotional art lesson she chose disappointment and my daughter said every single one of her peers had a story to share, said Amanda Smith. “Through these feelings and art lessons, my daughter connected with others and learned how to handle her feelings about so many things being canceled or changed to keep our family healthy all while she drew cartoon faces and posed looking disappointed.” Other weekly lessons focused on kindness, stress and using artwork as a place to express emotions. “I wish we all could spend a day with Mrs. Mo!” exclaimed Amanda.
When you think of a teacher who goes ‘above and beyond’ in all that she does you can’t help but think of Maggie Moschell. She not only inspires her art students to use creativity and emotions in their artwork but also cares for their social and emotional well-being providing outlets and lessons to talk about feelings and turning them into art. These are a few examples of the many reasons why she was chosen as teacher of the year!  Congratulations, Mrs. Moschell!

Courtney Ryan

Mason Early Childhood Center Teacher of the Year

Courtney Ryan had no idea when one of her preschool students left for winter break that her life would be forever changed. Liviah Widders, a typical, healthy four-year-old student in the Octopus class was in sudden need of a liver transplant. From that point on, throughout Liviah’s unexpected medical journey, Ms. Courtney has been with her every step of the way. “Ms. Courtney lived our rollercoaster and was with us the entire way giving us support, asking questions, and even being so gracious to offer up herself as a potential living donor,” explained parents Jack and Liz Widders. While in the hospital and after being discharged home it was a priority to Courtney Ryan that Liviah always felt part of the Octopus family, even if she couldn’t attend class in person. She provided the Widders Family with a list of iPad apps that Liviah enjoyed using. She also brought care packages to the hospital and had Liviah‘s class create a slideshow to cheer her up the day before her transplant. Ms. Courtney organized prayer groups, collected get well cards and always included Liviah in class lessons by sending home assignments with her older brother and having Liviah participate via zoom. “This is something she does not have to do, but we are extremely grateful that she incorporates Liviah in her daily instruction,” said Jack Widders. “We’ve both witnessed Liviah’s spirits increase as she has been able to interact with all of her friends in her classroom and be a part of the Octopus class these last several months!”
Prior to Liviah’s recent return to the classroom, Ms. Courtney made sure she was up-to-date on all of her medical care needs while in class. This brought much comfort to Liviah’s parents, Jack and Liz. “She truly is a teacher that considers each child her own,” shared MECC Principal Melissa Bly. This is evident in all that she does in and out of the classroom for each and every one of her preschool students.  “Ms. Courtney is an invested teacher, not just for our daughter, but for every single Octopi in her classroom,” said Jack Widders. “It is all of these things and more that confirm that Ms. Courtney goes ‘above and beyond’ as our daughter’s teacher, and is extremely deserving of being recognized with the Mason Schools Foundation Teacher Recognition award for MECC!” Congratulations, Ms. Courtney!

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