Each year, Morton Community Unit School District 709 honors teachers and support staff with three awards: The Potter’s Hand (support staff), The Dana Ashby Memorial Service Award (outstanding special educator) and The Master Potter (outstanding teacher). These are the highest awards District 709 rewards its staff who go above and beyond their job expectations.

The Potter’s Hand Award is bestowed upon the top support staff employee in the Morton School District. “The nominee must display a dedication to the positive impact of student well-being by going above and beyond the call of duty,” said Morton School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Craig Smock.

Nancy Weigle, the Morton School District’s Director of Transportation was awarded the Potter’s Hand Award for the 2018-2019 school year.

Co-workers described Nancy as, “organized, professional, dedicated, passionate, hardworking, patient, polite, warm, compassionate, caring, encouraging, tireless, determined, positive, humble, always smiling and friend”.

An excerpt from a nomination letter stated, “Nancy’s work ethic is second to none. She inspires others as she works tirelessly above and beyond her job title and responsibilities. Her passion for her job runs through her veins. She never asks anyone to do something that she is not willing to do herself. There is never a task that Nancy has turned away with a response of, she can’t or she won’t, but rather a ‘let me see what I can do’. Her servant-like work ethic is not to make herself look good, but rather to make the Morton School District look good.  She puts the district above herself. She goes above and beyond the call of duty. Her dedication to Morton 709’s children and staff is echoed in all that she says and does.”

The Dana Ashby Memorial Service Award recognizes the outstanding service of any employee who works with students with special needs. “This award, given in the honor of the late Dana Ashby, represents the hard work, the care, compassion and diligence of individuals who give of themselves in service to students with special needs,” said Director of Student Support Services Mrs. Carlie Owens.

Mr. Shane Weyland, a Lettie Brown Elementary School teacher, was named the recipient of the Dana Ashby Memorial Service Award.

Several nomination letters painted a picture of Mr. Weyland’s exemplary character and the level of dedication he brings to his profession, noting that, “Mr. Weyland has shown what it means to be a teacher with a true heart for students. He goes out of his way to encourage students. His desire is to make every single student feel like they are an important part of the class and all students are valued.”

A parent wrote, “Students learn from not only what a teacher teaches, but by the actions of how the teacher treats each student. We have appreciated Mr. Weyland and how he has worked diligently to make our child feel like a part of the classroom. I believe Dana Ashby would be extremely proud to have a general education teacher like Mr. Weyland as part of the team and to be a voice for our students with special needs.” 

The Master Potter Excellence in Education Award is given annually and is the highest honor the district may bestow on an educator and recognizes a lifetime of accomplishment. “This award is a tribute to an outstanding educator who exemplifies the quality of high standards, professionalism, and dedication to students,” said MCUSD 709 Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hill.

The Master Potter Award was presented to Stephanie Brown, a counselor at Morton High School.                                                                              

A colleague wrote, “Stephanie Brown has presented the school district with deep insights into both students and staff. She has a will to make a difference in everyone with which she works. Her determination to lead and influence, for the betterment of others, has led her to become a region and state leader in her field. She has become a resource for other school districts responding to a need that is felt throughout the country in the education community. She has helped the school district to better understand our students and ourselves.”

The award recipients were honored May 29 at an end-of-the-year celebration and received a standing ovation from their colleagues.