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Education foundation honors teachers

by Linda Hiller

Cindy Orr’s father cried when she told him she wanted to be a teacher. He wanted her to be an engineer. He should see her now.

The Pinon Hills Elementary School teacher was selected as Douglas County School District’s Teacher of the Year on Thursday at a luncheon honoring teachers representing each of the 12 schools in the district.

“When I walked into the luncheon and saw who was in there, I couldn’t believe I was there with all those great teachers,” she said. “I was in awe. Then, to be selected out of all of those people was so humbling.”

Orr has been teaching for eight years and received her education degree from the University of Idaho, Moscow. She grew up in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, and thought she would grow up to be a businesswoman and work in her uncle’s large company.

“I met my husband the first week I was in college, and although I was studying business, I soon changed my mind,” she said.

The thought of being a businesswoman/mom made her rethink her major, and then teaching came to mind as a good career to have while raising children.

“I started taking education classes, and it all came so easily to me – it wasn’t a struggle at all. I know my dad wanted me to be an engineer, but I felt this was what I was supposed to be doing.”

Orr sent out 200 applications after she graduated and took her first job at Jacks Valley Elementary School eight years ago. She moved to PHES when that school opened five years later, and currently teaches a 2nd grade/3rd grade combination class.

Orr, 31, is married to Loren, 33, who is a stockbroker for Paine Webber and they have two daughters, Bella, 5-1/2 and Fallon, 4.

– Education foundation makes it happen. The annual teacher appreciation luncheon, sponsored and hosted by the Douglas County Education Foundation, was replete with kudos for good educators and the hard work they do for children in a community.

“In many ways this has been a stressful year,” said Superintendent Pendery Clark. “This is an opportunity to be positive about education and say what wonderful teachers and administrators we have here in Douglas County.”

In attendance at Thursday’s awards luncheon, held in the gazebo at David Walley’s Resort, Hot Springs and Spa south of Genoa, were school board members, DCSD administrators and education foundation board members, including President Ron Cauley, who was the emcee.

The teacher of the year for each school was selected by a vote of their school’s peers. Recipients were each presented a gold apple by their respective site administrator, who had the opportunity to tout the best assets of each teacher.

The other 11 honored teachers include:

– Ellen Rosenberg from C.C. Meneley Elementary School, whom principal Brian Frazier said was an “excellent representative of what we would like to have on staff.”

– Jill Harper from Gardnerville Elementary School, was presented by counselor Marty Skaggs, who said, “I wish we could find a way to attract more teachers like Jill.”

n Cheryl Anderson of Scarselli Elementary School. Principal Betsy Palmer said Anderson’s name has always been synonymous with “excellent teaching,” and she epitomizes a lifetime learner.

n Cheryl Winter from Jacks Valley Elementary School, whom principal Pam Gilmartin said was a “fabulous teacher,” giving 110 percent to her students.

n Dee Robinson from Zephyr Cove Elementary School, whose humorous personality inspired her “singing nominators,” principal William Robison said, to write and perform a parody of “Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson,” when they submitted her name.

n Judy Hatch from Minden Elementary School was presented her gold apple from principal Klaire Pirtle through “Rabbity,” a popular puppet that Hatch uses frequently with her students. “Judy is truly a gift to us,” Pirtle said.

n Kelley Yost from Carson Valley Middle School, whom principal Roger Gerson characterized as a “touchstone for many students,”filling the CVMS halls with wonderful art in the process. Gerson noted that CVMS had the highest number of duck stamp art contest winners this year – all students of Yost.

n Kevin Huff of Kingsbury Middle School. Principal Tom Covault said Huff was elected unanimously by KMS staff, adding that he is the “finest physical education teacher I’ve ever worked with in my 33 years in education.”

n Romelle Cronin of Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, whom principal Charles Condron said was just a “great person.”

“I love teaching. The first time I stood in front of a class, I loved it,” Cronin said.

n Lindsay Wines from Whittell high School. Principal Larry Snyder said Wines is a “home-grown product” from Douglas County schools, possessing loyalty, dedication and excellence.

n Jill Alley from Douglas High School, whom principal Bev Jeans pointed out, is another home-grown teacher (WHS graduate). Jeans said Alley truly cares about kids, gets them to learn and is excited about trying “wild and outrageous” teaching techniques.

n Vice Principal Pam Calhoun from CVMS was presented her formal Nevada Vice Principal of the Year award plaque and ring from the National Association of Secondary Principals at Thursday’s ceremony.

“The staff at CVMS makes me look good every day,” Calhoun said.

n More Orr. Orr, who received her honor at the end of the presentations, said acknowledging and honoring good teachers is always a good thing in any community.

“Many of the good teachers don’t get the appreciation for what they do,” she said. “Douglas County is so lucky to have so many good, highly-motivated teachers. I like working with kids and making a difference in their lives.”

Clark said picking one teacher from all those present was extremely difficult, but if only one word could be used to describe Orr, it would be “contributor.”

“Cindy attends everything,” she said, adding that Orr proves the adage that you get out of life what you put into it.

“She is truly an outstanding representative of Douglas County,” Clark said.

Nancy Bryant, principal of PHES, said that Orr inspires teachers as well as students at her school, and epitomizes the excellence in teaching that is ever present in Douglas County.

“There is so much negativity in the world today,” Cauley said at the conclusion of the presentations. “This is an opportunity to celebrate what’s right in the world.”