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Outstanding Recognition Event

Otsego held its first annual recognition dinner to honor our special award winners. On June 15th, Supt. Haase along with the Board of Education hosted an outdoor event at Bulldog Stadium to formally recognize Teacher of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and the Outstanding People for Education award winners. The celebrations that typically take place to honor each of those did not take place due to COVID, but we wanted to make sure they were honored in a special way. “It was nice to have all of them together at this event and I think this could be another event that sticks around,” Haase says. 


Gary Shook, 2021 Volunteer of the Year

Gary Shook was honored as the 2020-21 Volunteer of the Year for the countless hours and dedication to our student-athletes. He attends sporting events - home and away - during every season to capture amazing photos of our students doing what they love; he captures thousands of pictures each year on his own time. He has also enhanced our athletic programs and student-athlete/fan experience through generous donations. Gary is an Otsego graduate, OHS '58 and was a star athlete himself. He was inducted into the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. "We hope you know how special you are to the high school athletic program, district and our families," John Kubiak, Otsego Athletic Director, said at the dinner, "We are thrilled to be able to formally honor and recognize all you do."


Kim Irish, 2019-20 Teacher of the Year

Kim Irish received the Otsego/Plainwell Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year honor for the 2019-2020 school year. The annual recognition dinner was cancelled due to COVID so we recognized her at this event. Kim has been a teacher at OPS since 1999 and has been a 3rd grade teacher at Dix Street Elementary for more than a decade. "Third grade is a pivotal time in a child's education and we, and our students, are fortunate to have her in this role," Supt. Haase said at the recognition event. "She not only shares her gifts and talents with her students, but with her colleagues and the district as a leader." Kim serves on the social studies vertical team, as a PLC Facilitator and on the Dix Street Student and Family Engagement Team.


Outstanding People for Education - 2021

The Outstanding People for Education award began in 2009 by the Allegan County Schools Boards Association and recognizes that every person involved in our schools can have a profound impact on the educational quality and experience, so nominees can be anyone involved in our schools - from volunteers to administrators, custodians to teachers, bus drivers to support staff. Up to 3 winners are chosen each year. For 2020-21, here are Otsego’s Outstanding People for Education recipients.

Kristin Alkire

Kristin Alkire began at Otsego High School in 2001 and has taught Biology and AP Biology. She instilled a love of science in her students. She was nominated this year by a student who appreciated her dedication and compassion to students during this difficult year. Whether hybrid or remote, she made sure kids what they needed. The nomination stated in part, “Mrs. Alkire not only cares about teaching the content but her compassion for the students shines through each and every day. She does whatever it takes to make sure she meets the needs of every single student in her class and treats them as individuals. SHE IS THE BEST OF THE BEST!”

“It was really inspiring to look around the room at all of the nominees, thinking about the creativity, passion, and dedication that each person brings to the students of OPS each day,” Alkire said after the nominees and winners were recognized at the May Board of Education meeting, “All of us are here because we love serving our students, so knowing that it was a student that submitted my nomination makes it especially meaningful.”

Melissa Garrett

Melissa embodies Otsego’s commitment to relationships. She joined Otsego Middle School as a Special Education teacher in 2018 and has moved into a key role of the Student Support Services team and will be a full-time Student Support Specialist in the fall. The last two years, she’s taken on our at-risk group in the AIM class and led the Links program for our Level 2 & 3 students with a fantastic group of general education students. She’s created an inclusive atmosphere for anyone who might feel out of place and builds confidence in reluctant learners. Her nomination stated in part, “Melissa has so much patience and grace with her students, yet she holds them all to high standards and expects them all to give their best. She is constantly challenging the students to strive for more and become the best versions of themselves. Melissa has so many students who know they can trust her and share their fears and worries - as well as successes with her.”

“Being nominated for this award from my students means the world to me,” Garrett said. “It is such an opportunity to teach students at such a pivotal time in their lives.  Most of the students I have worked with this year are up against some pretty significant challenges in life and I have been privileged to help them navigate and grow.”

Amber Neal

Amber has been the Administrative Assistant to the Principal at Dix Street Elementary since 2017. As the point person of the school - for kids, staff, and families - she takes her job seriously and does it with compassion and skill. Her nomination shared that she is always positive, encouraging, kind, supportive, a great listener and makes the school a better place. She finds ways to make improvements and keeps things moving in a positive direction. The nomination stated in part, “Dix Street is a great place to learn and grow due to her hard work. She deserves this recognition for her dedication and positivity.” 

“What an honor it is to be one of the recipients of this award. I was so surprised to hear my name as there are so many deserving people involved in this district,” Neal said. None of the nominees knew who had won when they were announced at the May board meeting. “As an Otsego grad myself, I always look forward to seeing who has been nominated and enjoy reminiscing on how the nominees have impacted my life also. I am truly humbled to be a nominee and recipient of the Outstanding People for Education award.”