Honoring Owatonna educators
Last week marked the annual Owatonna Educators Awards and Recognition Banquet hosted by the Owatonna Education Association. It was held at Monterey Ballroom on May 10 with a dinner and award ceremony and about 200 people in attendance.
The night honors teachers who are retiring or reaching milestones in their career and also names the Owatonna Teacher of the Year. The program noted that between all the teachers being recognized that night over 560 years of service were being celebrated.
Deb and Mark Kubat of Court Sports were given the Friend of Education Award for their work with student athletes. Mark Kubat coaches track and basketball. The couple has two daughters in kid-oriented jobs and was pleased to be honored by a field that means so much to them. They also excitedly noted that their first grandchild would be entering the Owatonna school district as a kindergartener at Lincoln Elementary next fall.
Five retirees were recognized throughout the night for their years of service to the school districtJohn Dickerman, who works at the Owatonna Senior High School, has been teaching since 1994. He changed majors in college and became a teacher when he realized the most influential people in his life, outside of his parents, had all been teachers. His philosophy when it comes to teaching is “Rules without a relationship leads to rebellion.”
Joann Stolpa will be retiring from Washington Elementary. She’s been a teacher since 1974. Prior to Washington, she taught at St. Mary’s.
Marry Ann HoneyCutt has worked with the visually impaired in the Owatonna, Faribault, and Medford school districts since 2001. Looking out over her fellow educators, she said, “I know that I am leaving them in good hands with you.”
Diane Kuchenbecker of Wilson School has taught since 1973 and was sad to see her time as a teacher draw to a close. “In my heart, I will always be a teacher,” she said.
She recalled many moments in her career fondly. She taught the current president of the Owatonna Education Association, Todd Andrix, when he was in kindergarten.
She also shared about a time when a school she taught at was being renovated. A construction worker on the project kept watching her when she taught outside. A janitor gave him her number, and they married a few months later.
Kuchenbecker isn’t sure what she’ll do now that she’s done teaching, but whenever she worries she reminds herself, “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”
Gary Schwartz, president of the Retired Teachers Association, announced that all the retirees would receive one free year of membership to the association.
Teachers who’ve reached the twenty-five and thirty year milestones were brought up for applause and gifts to thank them for their commitment.