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Excellence in Teaching Award Winner

The Grand Island Community Foundation (GICF) staff and board of trustees arrived at Trinity Lutheran Church December 7th, to surprise an exceptional teacher. Students, faculty, administrators, and guests showed up for a Christmas advent play put on by the Trinity Lutheran School, which was a great opportunity for GICF to slip in unnoticed in order to keep everything a surprise until the last moment. Everyone was so excited to honor Wendy Heider, 4th grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School, with the 2016 Kim West Dinsdale Award for Excellence in Teaching! 

When asked why this award is significant to our community, Kim West Dinsdale expressed a sincere appreciation and respect for how teachers shape our future. “Teachers do more than teach, they inspire students to reach new heights of success. I am so pleased, through the Grand Island Community Foundation, we have an opportunity to honor our teachers,” said Kim West Dinsdale.

 “Twelve years ago the Kim West Dinsdale Award for Excellence in Teaching was established through an endowment gift to Grand Island Community Foundation to honor Kim West Dinsdale- a community leader, volunteer, and philanthropist,” said Melissa DeLaet, CEO of the Foundation. “Kim and her husband Tom are familiar to many of us because of the generosity they show to our community. This award, in fact, carries with it a check for $5,000” said DeLaet.

 Nominations for this award were due October 14th. Past recipients of this award include the following: 

  • 2005: Brandi Anderson, Grand Island Senior High School (E.S.L.)
  • 2006: Kay Janzen, Grand Island Central Catholic (Math)
  • 2007: Mary Ann Richards, Walnut Middle School (Guidance Counselor)
  • 2008: David Sackschewsky, Grand Island Northwest High School (Music)
  • 2009: Michella Honas, Grand Island Senior High School (Special Education)
  • 2010: Pat Kayl, Grand Island Central Catholic (Science)
  • 2011: Tess Westover, Howard Elementary School (2nd Grade)
  • 2012: Karen Gruener, Cedar Hollow School (2nd Grade)
  • 2013: Christa Speed, Grand Island Senior High (Orchestra)
  • 2014: Nancy Chavez, Seedling Mile Elementary (4th Grade)
  • 2015 Jerome Dubas, Grand Island Senior High (Art); Kirk Ramsey, Barr Middle School (Guidance Counselor)  

Mrs. Heider, 4th grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School, was celebrated as the Grand Island Community Foundation’s selection for this year’s Excellence in Teaching award.

Mrs. Heider has been teaching at Trinity Lutheran School since the early 1990s. She prior taught kindergarten at the Detroit Urban Lutheran School and also as a K-4th grade teacher for three years at First Trinity Lutheran School in Beatrice, Nebraska. Based on the nominations that came in for Mrs. Heider it was clear that she was a great fit for this award as she possesses many qualities that make her an extraordinary teacher. Her encouragement and compassion truly make a difference in the lives of those she touches, especially her students.    

There were many wonderful qualities reported about Mrs. Heider but one that stood out and touched our hearts was the following story submitted by the nominator: “When I battled cancer a few years ago she was there to comfort my kids and was there if they needed to talk. She had a prayer group after school that was very important to my children, especially at that time when they were hurting.” We are so thankful for great teachers such as Mrs. Heider!

“Being a teacher is a selfless job that at times is thankless,” said DeLaet. “Endless hours are put in and each year students take with them a piece of their teacher’s heart. Outstanding educators touch the lives of their students, their student’s families, their fellow educators, and their communities.” That is just one reason why the Kim West Dinsdale Award for Excellence in Teaching fits in with our mission here at the Grand Island Community Foundation.