March 18, 2010
The Regional Center for Teaching and Learning at Morningside College has presented the 2010 National Alumni Educator of the Year Award to Vernon Simmons, a St. Paul, Minn., police officer and director of security and boys basketball coach at Johnson Senior High School in St. Paul, and the 2010 Siouxland Alumni Teacher of the Year Award to Joe Hardin, instrumental music instructor at West Middle School and Roosevelt Elementary School in Sioux City.
Morningside College President John Reynders and William Deeds, Morningside’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, presented the awards at a banquet on Wednesday, March 17, in the college’s Olsen Student Center. 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.
Simmons received his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and social work from Morningside in 1983. A native of Michigan City, Ind., Simmons worked for seven years on the Sioux City Police Department before moving to St. Paul in 1990 and joining the police force there. For ten seasons, he has served as coach for the boy’s basketball team at St. Paul’s Johnson Senior High School in addition to his duties as a police officer and security director at the school. Simmons has led his team to six St. Paul City Conference titles and four Class AAAA state tournament appearances. Simmons was a four-year starter on the basketball team while he attended Morningside College.
Kay Arndt, principal at Johnson Senior High School, called Simmons “the ultimate role model.”
"I frequently remind my teaching staff that they should observe Vern,” Arndt said. “He consistently produces top-notch teams because his teams are disciplined, on task and constantly strive to improve.”
Hardin received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Morningside in 1997 and his master’s degree from Wayne State College in 2006. During his career at West Middle School, the number of students in the school’s band program has doubled. Over the past six years, Hardin coached 16 students who qualified for the Iowa Bandmasters Association All-State Eighth Grade Honor Band. He also serves on West Middle School’s building leadership team.
“I have never known a finer music teacher, and I have worked with many,” said Cynthia Washinowksi, principal at West Middle School. “Joe’s work ethic and determination are reflected in the outstanding quality of the music instruction he has maintained here at West Middle. He really is our Mr. Holland.”
Other nominees for the Siouxland Alumni Teacher of the Year Award included:
Sioux City – Mandi Bradford, Joy Elementary School; Crista Limoges, North High School; Kim Mounts, East High School; Carol Ragan, Irving Elementary School.
South Sioux City – Laurie Bentson, Covington Elementary School.
Iowa – Bryan Alfredson, Woodbury Central Elementary School, Moville, Iowa; Michelle Hoch, Lawton-Bronson Junior/Senior High School, Lawton, Iowa; Dana Myron, Charter Oak-Ute Junior/Senior High School, Charter Oak, Iowa; Paula Roder, Lawton-Bronson Elementary School, Bronson, Iowa.
Morningside founded the Regional Center for Teaching and Learning in 2001 to work collaboratively with other institutions and agencies to improve education in the tri-state region. Nancy Mounts serves as the center’s director.