March 30, 2006
The Regional Center for Teaching and Learning at Morningside College presented the national Alumni Educator of the Year and the Siouxland Alumni Teacher of the Year awards at a special banquet held in their honor on Wednesday evening, March 29, in the Randolph Room of the Olsen Student Center.
Morningside alumnus Dr. Thomas C. Narak, superintendent of West Des Moines Community Schools, was recognized as the 2006 Alumni Educator of the Year. The recipient of the Siouxland Alumni Teacher of the Year award was presented to Diane Woodford, fifth grade teacher at Covington Elementary School in South Sioux City, Neb.
Morningside College President John Reynders and Dr. William Deeds, vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the college, presented the awards. Nancy Mounts, director of the Regional Center for Teaching and Learning, and Joan Nielsen, assistant professor and interim chair of the education department at Morningside, offered remarks.
To be considered for the awards, candidates must exemplify the qualities of an effective educator, have made a significant contribution to the field of education, and have had a positive impact on students and their families.
Narak (left, with President John Reynders) has worked in education for more than 35 years. He began his career as a science teacher at Westwood Community Schools in Sloan, Iowa, and in 1975 became secondary principal for the community schools in Exira, Iowa. From 1978 to 1990 he served as elementary and middle level principal for Schuyler Grade School in Colfax County, Neb., and was superintendent of the Colfax schools from 1982 to 1990. He served as superintendent of the Alta Community School District in Iowa from 1990 to 1997 and as superintendent of the Indianola Community School District in Iowa from 1997 to 2004.
Narak is a member of several professional and civic organizations including the American Association of School Administrators, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), the Executive Committee of the Iowa High School Speech Association, the West Des Moines Economic Development Board, and the West Des Moines Rotary Club, to name a few. He currently serves on the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) task force for developing a new superintendent evaluator approval course and was a recent presenter for the Iowa Governor’s Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth.
Narak received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Morningside in 1970. He holds a master’s degree in education from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, and a specialist in education degree and a doctorate in education from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
Woodford (in photo at right with President John Reynders) has been with the South Sioux City Community Schools (SSCCS) since 1978, teaching at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Prior to joining the SSCCS, she served as Chapter I instructor for kindergarten through sixth grade in Verdigre, Neb.
Woodford has received several awards including the 2004 Nebraska Teacher of the Year and Nebraska Teacher of Excellence awards and a Parent Teacher Association Lifetime Award, among others. She is active in several civic and professional organizations including the National Education Association, Nebraska State Education Association, South Sioux City Education Association, Boy Scouts of America, Special Olympics, and others.
Woodford holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska, an elementary special education endorsement from Wayne State College, and a master’s degree in secondary education from Morningside.
Alumni nominees from other school districts included:
Sioux City: Jo Fravel, Sioux City Community School District; Jan Turbes, Western Hills Area Education Agency.
Iowa: Steve Brown and Darla Ludvigson, Battle Creek-Ida Grove Community School District; David Law, Lawton-Bronson Community School District; Paula Olson, Sergeant Bluff-Luton; Alison Seuntjens, Anthon-Oto; Barb Templeton, Maple Valley.
Nebraska: Dan Hogan, Papillion-La Vista Public Schools; Angela Turner, South Sioux City Community Schools.
The Regional Center for Teaching and Learning at Morningside College was founded by the college in 2001 and works collaboratively with other institutions and agencies to improve education in the tri-state region.