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January Teachers of the Month Announced

The Westerville Education Foundation (WEF) named three educators Teacher of the Month for January: Denise Leach, Cherrington Elementary School; Lauren Williams, ELC Preschool; and Kelly Ocheltree, Pointview Elementary School.

Denise Leach is a kindergarten teacher at Cherrington Elementary who was nominated by Markita Suttle, the parent of one of her current students. Markita describes how her son, Micah, developed significant anxiety about school after the first day. Markita reached out to Mrs. Leach after that first day and found that she had already picked up on the signs and already had a plan to help him adjust. 

“Much of Micah's anxiety had to do with changing rooms and meeting new adults,” Markita said. “Mrs. Leach, in turn, made a point to introduce him to each new adult in his life and to check on him during new classes.” 

Mrs. Leach found creative ways to help Micah engage in the classroom and even remembered to tell him she would be absent, taking the time to introduce him to the teacher that would be covering for her.  “My son now loves school and looks forward to going each and every day. I am so thankful he has a teacher like Mrs. Leach that was willing to go above and beyond for him to help him adjust, especially in light of having so many other children in her classroom,” Markita added.

Lauren Williams was nominated by Misty Lycakis, whose son, Finn, is attending preschool at the ELC for the first time. Finn has special needs due to Down Syndrome and she describes her trepidation about his first integration into a classroom environment. Misty says that they were lucky that Finn was placed in Mrs. Williams’s classroom, noting that “Mrs. Williams not only meets our son where he is, she and her team push him towards independence and celebrate his successes.” 

Mrs. Williams, along with the assistant teachers have created an environment where Finn is growing and thriving. “They are a huge part of his story and the strong foundation they are helping to build will no doubt be a springboard for Finn’s successful future,” Misty said.

Kelly Ocheltree was nominated by her coworker at Pointview, Lexi Alza. “Kelly has been teaching at Pointview for three years and in her short time there has made a grand impact,” said Lexi. She describes how Kelly has embraced and driven the school’s culture and the Leader in Me program, stating, “She is a model and a light to our school as the lighthouse coordinator this year.” 

Kelly is a problem-solver who encourages others to find creative solutions and overcome barriers for the benefit of the students. As a WEF grant recipient, Kelly has sought and received additional funding for innovative programs to provide students with new opportunities. 

“She is reliable and trustworthy, showing transparency and courage,” said Lexi. “We are so thankful for her continued perseverance and the model she is for our staff, families, and community.”

The Westerville Education Foundation’s Teacher of the Month Program is sponsored by Education First Credit Union, with support from Mount Carmel St. Ann’s and Alliance Data. The Mission of the Westerville Education Foundation is to enrich the learning experience and broaden the minds of our students through the funding and support of innovative educational programs. To nominate, give or join, please visit

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