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County Teacher of the Year
The Star Press
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Selma educator honored for Excellence in Teaching

The Star Press4:48 p.m. ET May 2, 2017

(Photo: The Star Press)

MUNCIE, Ind. — In conjunction with National Teacher Appreciation Week, Ball Brothers Foundation has named Chris Holdren, a fifth-grade teacher at Selma Elementary School, as the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award winner.

The honor includes a $15,000 grant to be divided among the winner’s district, school, and classroom.

Award finalists for 2017 were Martha Murphy, a K-12 instructor of orchestra at Burris Laboratory School, and Drew Shermeta, a social studies teacher at Central High School. The two finalists each will receive a $1,000 grant to use in the classroom.

The Excellence in Teaching Award, being given for the fifth year in a row, honors a teacher who brings innovation, enthusiasm, and 21st century skills into the classroom, according to a release. The Excellence in Teaching grants program is open to K-12 classroom educators with at least three years of experience, and each district develops its own selection process. Collectively, this year’s winner and finalists have more than 70 years of classroom teaching experience.

“When BBF initiated the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2013, our goal was simple. We wanted to shine a light on the outstanding talent of Delaware County teachers,"  BBF’s Jud Fisher, president and COO, said in the release. "Across the past few years, much has changed in the world of education, but the dedication of our county’s teachers has not. Every day, teachers in school districts large and small, urban and rural, are equipping students through innovative lessons that connect academic learning to life. Students in our county are being challenged to be thoughtful, creative, and inquisitive by teachers who care deeply about preparing them for successful futures. This year’s nominees were no exception."

A five-member panel reviewed the applications and selected the three finalists from the larger pool of nominations. Judges for the 2017 award included Patricia Clark, chair of Ball State University’s Department of Elementary Education; Gary Pavlechko, director of teaching technology in the Office of Educational Excellence at Ball State; Kate Love-Jacobson, coordinator with the City of Fort Wayne and consultant with High Performance Government Network; Dale Basham, veteran educator, school administrator; and Neil Schmottlach, who retired from Ball Brothers Foundation in 2014.

Holdren  joins previous award winners including Holly Stachler (Yorktown Community Schools) in 2013, Julian Ravenscroft (Daleville Community Schools) in 2014, Renee Huffman (Burris Laboratory School) in 2015, and Steve Spradlin (Muncie Community Schools) in 2016.

Nominations for next year’s award will be accepted from school districts beginning Sept. 1, 2017.

Ball Brothers Foundation is one of the state’s oldest and largest family foundations. Last year, Ball Brothers Foundation celebrated its 90th anniversary, awarding $7.25 million in grants supporting arts and culture, education, the environment, health, human services and public affairs. The Muncie-based private foundation gives priority to projects and programs that improve the quality of life in BBF’s home city, county and state.