Clevenger has taught since 1998 at the Marshall County Alternative School housed in Plymouth. Each semester she typically has between 16-20 students who have been referred to the alternative program for a variety of reasons.
According to Sloma, “Educators of the Year” are chosen from nominations they receive from fellow teachers, students, and community members. The nominations are limited to 100 words or less. Nominations received this year were from all over the viewing area of WNDU in Indiana, Michigan, and other viewing areas.
Clevenger said for the first time in her life, she was almost speechless. She said, “This is a great honor for me, a wonderful honor for our school, and the wonderful honor for all the kids in the alternative school.” She added, “It’s very humbling.”
Sloma said they received hundreds of nominations that were investigated and then passed on to a panel of judges. A common thread among those nominating Clevenger was her ability to motivate students to succeed and graduate. Student Tanner Paschke said, “She has been working with kids that are struggling with school and she wants to make sure they do all their work, not fail any classes, and make sure they graduate on time.” He added, “For me, she has been there when I needed here the most.”
PHS Special Education Coordinator, Kelsey Flynn, also spoke highly of Clevenger’s abilities. Flynn said, “I have personally admired the patience and commitment that she develops with students. Mrs. Clevenger believes 110 percent in each one of the students, while having the compassion and understanding that most are not your typical student.” “I truly believe that some of these students would not be walking year after year across the PHS stage to receive their diplomas if it wasn’t for Suzie Clevenger.” said Flynn. “The love of teaching and the feeling of empowerment that she gives each of them will give them the basis to be as successful as they chose to be.”
Student Daren Miller said, “She has a personality that very few teachers have-a never give up attitude.” Myles Scott, also a student in the Alternative School said, “She goes above and beyond to help you understand what is going on in the classroom.”
Sloma said the judges were especially touched by the words from student Bruce Schneider. Schneider wrote, “She has helped me get back on track with my credits so I can graduate with me class in June. I will forever appreciate her help and everything that she has done for me.”
Other teachers receiving the distinction from WNDU this year were Megan Connors of William Primary in South Bend and Andrew Mishler of North Liberty Elementary.
Carol Anders Correspondent