Three Westerville City School District teachers were selected as Educators of the Year by the Ellis E. Woodrow Memorial Post 7883 of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Westerville. They are: Janelle Genth, Fouse Elementary School; Kim DeMooy, Blendon Middle School; and Keri Coleman, Westerville Central High School. Their names were submitted to the VFW District 11, where they were also chosen as Educators of the Year in the Elementary, Middle, and High School categories. District 11 encompasses most of Central Ohio (nine counties) and 41 VFW Posts.
The VFW says Genth, a third grade teacher, brings the importance of national pride to the forefront by incorporating patriotism into many lessons. As the mother of a Marine who served in the Battle for Baghdad, Genth laces her curriculum with current events. All of her students at Fouse, including many immigrants, are taught about the importance of respecting the flag. She has interpreted the Pledge of Allegiance into American Sign Language for her hearing-impaired children, and also teaches the Pledge to pupils who are transitioning from Spanish as a primary language to English.
DeMooy, an 8th grade teacher, is being honored for stressing civic responsibility in her classes. She utilizes state-of-the-art resources, combined with good old-fashioned teaching skills, to impart to her students the importance of understanding the heritage of being an American. She is Blendon’s coordinator for Patriot’s Day, which memorializes the events of September 11, 2001. DeMooy also takes on the monumental task of coordinating and escorting 8th graders to Washington, D.C. over Spring Break.
Coleman leads by example as she stresses civic responsibility in her classroom at Westerville Central. This 9th grade teacher serves as a volunteer guardian for Honor Flight, escorting World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial. She donates her own time and money to the cause and her willingness to do so has proven contagious as some of her students have also joined in. She coordinated the school’s “Hats for Heroes” program to raise money for Honor Flight. In addition, Coleman spearheaded a “mock election” to heighten awareness among students and staff about the importance of exercising their right to vote. She also worked the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates into her curriculum to encourage students to watch and be informed. Coleman organized Westerville Central’s Veteran’s Day program this year. According to the VFW, she “exemplifies the core values of a community leader.”
Founded in 1899, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is concerned with the education of America’s youth. VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary have developed a slate of programs dedicated to this endeavor. VFW’s Citizenship Education program stimulates interest in America’s history, traditions, institutions, civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism. The three teachers who have been selected as Educators of the Year invite veterans into their buildings to discuss their military experiences and unique views of American History, and they foster the development of democratic values and beliefs through special classroom projects. The trio will be recognized at the February 11 Board of Education meeting.