Struck with honors


Courtney Struck, Utica High’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, poses with he plaque she was presented during class.. TOM LIETZ PHOTO

To be nominated as Teacher of the Year among a teaching staff of 67 is nothing short of a huge honor. Utica High School prides itself on its teachers and staff that work day in and day out to make sure that students are always receiving the best education that they possibly can.

“We have a staff full of great teachers so anybody would be worthwhile,” principal Tom Lietz said.

Every year, one teacher is recognized among the rest for their exceptionally hard work and dedication, recognized as a teacher who has gone above and beyond, doing things that make them standout from their colleges.

“When Teacher of the Year is chosen,” Lietz said, “a lot goes into consideration.”

For the 2018-2019 school year, the nomination process for Teacher of the Year was a little different.

“Every teacher in the building works hard,” teacher Holly Yucha said. “It’s nice to support each other by highlighting the hard work of our colleagues.”

Utica’s staff nominated teachers and the ones that received multiple nominations made it to the final part of the process. This year’s finalist consisted of teachers Diane Buchi, Tammy Hilliard, Joel Kaczmarczyk, and Courtney Struck.

“It was an honor to be nominated in that category,” teacher Tammy Hilliard said, “especially among those teachers.”

“Mrs. Struck has such an amazing bond with her students and truly cares about each person.”

Teachers being considered must exemplify characteristics that show they are deserving of the title. Things like their teaching structure, service to the community, and leadership in the building are all apart of the criteria looked at.

“We really look at what added benefit they bring to kids over other teachers,” said Lietz.

Not only does this teacher have to work hard at providing a superb education to their students, they must also have outstanding personality traits. These traits must be something that grabs the attention of students and the rest of the staff.

“In my opinion,” teacher Jaclyn Moore said, “Teacher of the Year is someone who brings passion, excitement, and good work ethic to the classroom.”

After heavy consideration, the title went to science teacher, Courtney Struck. Students and staff members alike can both agree that she is more than well deserving of the honor.

“I was thrilled for Mrs. Struck,” Lietz said, “she absolutely deserves the recognition.”

Teacher Courtney Struck displays her teacher of the year award with some of her students. TOM LIETZ PHOTO

Teaching isn’t an easy job, but Struck dedicates every single day to making she that she puts her best foot forward.

“While she is tough,” teacher Steven Haley said, “she cares more about her students being successful than almost any other teacher in the building.”

To accomplish the position of teacher of the year means that classroom performance has to stand out to each and every student. In order to fit the criteria of how each student learns and how they understand different concepts is a big responsibility for all teachers.

“Mrs. Struck makes sure that everyone in the classroom understands each concept that we learn,” sophomore Alessandra Vitale said. “She does different things in order to fit everyone’s learning style, which I and I’m sure many other students really appreciate.”

Although there were many amazing teachers that were selected for the position, it takes a special kind of teacher to fulfill each and every specific way that students comprehend topics. Teachers not only have to dedicate their time to making sure students understand the material within the class being taught, but they also have to care for their students well being and life outside of school.

“Mrs. Struck has such an amazing bond with her students and truly cares about each person,” junior Gloria Levin said. “The way she explains chemistry makes it come so naturally to everyone, and she’s just a great spirit to be around.”

Struck and many other teachers were all up for the award but none really knew exactly who was going to come out on top. With an amazing staff and such a hard working group of teachers, it was a difficult task for the other teachers to pick which teacher would earn the title.

“I was very surprised that I won because I don’t consider myself to be doing anything more than any other teacher in the building,” teacher Courtney Struck said. “It is a very rewarding title and never expected myself to win, I was up against amazing teachers.”

It is known that the staff around the building is a group of people that dedicated, driven, and very hard working. Many think the choice of Struck for teacher of the year was a great decision.