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Westerville Education Foundation Names Teachers of the Month for January

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Westerville Education Foundation has named three educators Teacher of the Month for January – Derek Geist, Fouse Elementary: Ashlee Wagner, McVay Elementary; and Kate Mantenieks, Emerson Elementary. 

Derek Geist is described as a teacher who makes science come alive through his dedication to creating a positive learning environment for students.  Nominator Ellen Sullivan said as a result of Geist’s efforts, her once-struggling son looks forward to school and knows he has a teacher who is dedicated to his well-being.  He makes himself available to the students and is very approachable.  When her son had difficulty with long division, Geist provided the additional help outside of class time necessary for him to succeed.  She shared a story about the time her son came home with two congratulatory letters from Mr. Geist in recognition of the excellent test scores he had achieved.  “He affirmed my son and encouraged him to continue,” she wrote.  “The fact he took the time to write a letter is inspiring! What pride and encouragement he gave my son…He is a teacher who makes a difference in the lives of students with his individualized attention and concern.”

According to nominator Jeff Endres, Ashlee Wagner is a “high energy, driven, goal-focused, and student-centered” educator who is the one person his family has been able to rely upon to support and assist them with their special circumstances.  All three of his children have been accelerated in Math and have had unique scheduling circumstances.  “She cares about all kids at all levels of performance and is always striving to find new and exciting ways to teach Math so that the students will remember it and be able to apply it,” he wrote.  “She is amazing! With her love for learning, her love of children, and her willingness to be innovative, Mrs. Wagner inspires all who have been touched by her.”  Wagner uses technology and innovative approaches, such as the creation of music videos, to reach and teach her students.  She engages students in the process, includes them in the production, and targets them as the audience for these fun, educational, and motivational videos.

“Every time I turn around she is doing something that shows extra initiative,” wrote nominator Marcie Mohnsen of Kate Mantenieks.  “Her classroom activities challenge and motivate my child - she does many innovative and hands-on activities that truly enhance my child’s learning experience.”  Through the use of technology and personalized homework plans, Mantenieks takes into consideration her students’ home life balance while sacrificing her personal time to coordinate unique activities, such as exchanging letters and video chats with international pen pals in China.  Mohnsen particularly appreciates the support Mantenieks provided to her family to make testing a less stressful situation for her daughter.  “She puts me at ease knowing that she cares for my daughter and is looking out for her best interest,” she wrote.  “As a parent, that peace of mind is priceless… Mrs. Mantenieks is an amazing teacher!”

The Westerville Education Foundation’s Teacher of the Month Program is sponsored by Education First Credit Union and ThisWeek Community News, with support from Otterbein University.  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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