The University of Evansville on Wednesday presented four Vanderburgh County educators with "Outstanding Educator of the Year" awards.
Each educator received a surprise announcement at their school on Wednesday as part of UE's 30th annual presentation of the awards.
The competition, which is specific to Vanderburgh County, recognizes current teachers and principals in grades K-12 who have at least three years of experience.
The following individuals were presented with awards on Wednesday:
Outstanding Elementary Educator of the Year: Cathy Hoffman, fifth-grade teacher at Delaware Elementary School
Cathy has been an educator for 16 years, nine of which have been in her current role.
"My motto in the classroom is, 'We don't do easy. We make easy happen through hard work,'" says Cathy. "Many students want to give up if something is hard. But the relationships I have built with them allow me to show them they can achieve these things."
Cathy says one of her main goals is to be in tune with her students each day, which allows her to build trust and encourage them.
Outstanding Middle School Educator of the Year: Gayle Mooney, sixth-grade teacher at Scott School
Gayle Mooney has been a teacher for 28 years, and for the last nine, she has taught sixth-grade math and science. Over the last two decades, Gayle has served as a sponsor and coordinator for several organizations, including student council, cheerleading, technology, and book fairs.
"I feel like I am fortunate to be in the classroom and learn with my students as they learn from me," Gayle said.
On top of their personal success, Gayle also strives to make learning enjoyable for her classes.
Outstanding High School Educator of the Year: Peter Barringer, English teacher at Harrison High School
Peter Barringer has been a teacher for seven years, and he has been teaching English at Harrison High School for the last five years. He also teaches in the Shepard Leadership and Law Academy, a rigorous four-year program that combine social studies and English. "This program has stretched my abilities as a teacher, and it has provided an additional opportunity for growth in my skill set," he said.
Peter says his educational philosophy is very simple: "I believe all students are capable of learning and succeeding."
In addition to teaching English, Peter serves as a coach for the speech team and recorder for the Harrison Social-Emotional Learning Team. He also established the Harrison Board Game Club to further engage with students.
Outstanding Building Principal of the Year: Susie Masterson, Principal of Evansville Christian School
UE says Susie Masterson has been an educator for 44 years, and is currently serving her 34th year as the principal for Evansville Christian School, where she oversees pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
"In every situation, I have been challenged and equipped for the next opportunity," said Susie, "And that's what it means to be a lifelong learner."
In nominating Susie for an Outstanding Educator Award, an individual said that she is "the epitome of a selfless leader who is teacher-focused and believes in partnering with parents to positively impact each student's learning."
You can find more information on each educator who received the Outstanding Educator of the Year award on Wednesday on the University of Evansville's website.