• Why Teachers Are Recognized

    Leah Henry received a $5,000 check for the Dedication to Education award. Recognizing teachers for their outstanding work is one of the special things the Lawrence Schools Foundation gets to participate in throughout the year. Most of these opportunities are provided by generous donors who want to make sure teachers know the community cares about what they do.

    Each December the Special Award for Dedication to Education is presented to a deserving certified teacher or paraeducator in the Lawrence Public Schools who goes the extra mile to help kids who need it most.

    At the end of 2017 the award, which honors someone who ensures that challenged and/or disadvantaged students learn, was presented to Leah Henry, a teacher at the Juvenile Detention Center.

    “Many of the students who participate in the day school program have had limited success in school,” said Pam Weigand, director of Douglas County Youth Services. “Leah incorporates creative projects and activities to engage students and promote a positive learning environment. She demonstrates caring and concern for her students and advocates to ensure her students have the necessary tools and support to facilitate their success.”

    Teachers like Henry are the reason this award was started by a group of community members. Following the lead of their fathers – all named Bob, who started what is known as the Bobs Award, a $10,000 Excellence in Teaching honor – these sons and daughters created their own award – the Dedication to Education Award. The recognition comes with a $5,000 check. Both groups remain anonymous.

    “Our group, and the Bobs, think that there are some great educators and staff out there who do an extraordinary job and aren’t rewarded or recognized enough for their efforts,” said one of the anonymous donors. “When the SOBs (Sons of Bobs) was formed, we didn’t initially decide that rewarding teachers would be our thing too, but at our first meeting we decided that is where we wanted our money to go.”

    Each year the presentation of the award and check come as a complete surprise to the recipient.

    “It is so great to surprise someone with unexpected recognition and money,” the donor said. “It is also fun to perpetuate our parents’ example of anonymously giving something back to a fantastic community.

    In addition to the Excellence in Teaching and Dedication to Education recognition, the Lawrence Schools Foundation presents several other teaching awards during the year, including two Educator of the Year (Golden Apple) awards, Barbara Hodgson Dream to Achieve Award and Allen Press Distinguished Teaching Award.

    Nominations are accepted from community members. You can learn more about these unique honors here.