Ionia Public Schools announces Educators of the Month

Mitch Mercer, right, and Ionia Superintendent Ben Gurk

IONIA — Ionia Public Schools Associate Superintendent of Student Achievement and Human Resources Wayne Piercefield recognized Educators of the Month at the Board of Education meeting Feb. 21.

Each month the district accepts nominations for recipients of the honor from colleagues, administrators and other staff, as well as parents and students.

Recipients were:

Mitch Mercer, Ionia Public Schools Homeless Liaison Officer

Mercer was nominated by Logan Stephans, who said, “Mr. Mercer is a prime example of a stellar educator. After being a principal for a number of years, he has transitioned to the Homeless Liaison Officer for the district. He helps students in their darkest days by giving them transportation when needed, buying necessities like clothes and toiletries, and just by simply being a person they can trust and lean on. He always comes in with a smile on his face and is ready to take on anything that is thrown at him!”

Allison Fiepke, Jefferson Fourth-Grade Teacher

Fiepke was nominated by Jefferson Principal Leila McDonald, who said, “Ms. Fiepke works hard each and every day to educate her fourth-grade students in a way that is meaningful and fun. She works hard to form relationships with each and every one of her students. Ms. Fiepke has a positive attitude each day and is kind and caring to all students!”

Michaeline Winters, Rather Fourth-Grade Teacher

Michaeline Winters, right, and Rather Principal Darin Magley

Winters was nominated by Rather Principal Darin Magley, who said, “Mrs. Winters is highly skilled at developing caring, motivating, inspiring relationships with her students. Ella’s atmosphere in her classroom is positive, orderly, consistent, and focused on learning. Mrs. Winters embraces the learning programs that have been adopted by the district and puts forth a great effort to teach them with fidelity. Michaeline is an extremely hard worker who is committed to the success of her students. Mrs. Winters’ experience, wisdom, and her sterling reputation make her a trusted leader on our staff.

Joseph Gauck, Twin Rivers First-Grade Teacher

Gauck was nominated by Meagan Nummer, a Twin Rivers parent, who said, “Mr. Gauck is positive and develops relationships with his first-grade students. (He) makes learning fun for the kids and encourages them to do their best. He keeps parents informed about how their child is doing in class. My son has learned a lot in his class and enjoys going to school.”

LinseyChristensen, Boyce Fourth-Grade Teacher

Christensen was nominated by Boyce Principal Scott Yenchar, who said, “Ms. Christensen is bringing the Boyce Farm and Garden Club back after a few years off. She donates her time to offer an after-school program to students at Boyce. Currently, there are close to 80 students participating in the program. She also helps plan the March is Reading Month activities for the whole school. We appreciate Ms. Christensen for helping to provide fun school-wide activities for all students at Boyce!”

Kristen Gifford, Emerson Kinderstart Teacher

Gifford was nominated by Principal Kara Moore, who said, “Mrs. Gifford pours endless time and energy into creating a caring, purposeful and innovative Kinderstart program to meet the needs of all of her students. She steps in at a moment’s notice to help any student or staff member work to solve a situation. She does everything possible to ensure there is a positive outcome. Mrs. Gifford is a member of the district crisis team, District School Improvement/Curriculum Council team and building Medical Emergency Response Team. She oversees our schoolwide book fair and is a member of our March is Reading Month Committee.”

Kelsey Ford, Ionia Middle School Counselor

Kelsey Ford, left, Ionia Superintendent Ben Gurk, and therapy dog ​​Truman

Ford was nominated by IPS Associate Superintendent of Business and Finance Adrienne Barna, who said, “Mrs. Ford takes the time to create relationships and develop trust with kids so that they are comfortable using her as a resource when a need arises. She helps students work through difficult situations in a way that allows them to feel valued, respected, and heard. Her impact on the culture and climate at IMS is second to none and she is truly an invaluable asset to our students.”

Scott Swinhart, Ionian High School Physical Education Teacher and Varsity Basketball Coach

Swinehart was nominated by IHS Principal Jon Duley and IPS Superintendent Ben Gurk. Gurk said, “Mr. Swinehart is a true educator at heart. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he wants to do it right, teach others how to do it right, and win at doing it! He is always a voice of reason and has an incredible ability to see everyone’s point of view. He is a true leader.” Duley said, “Additionally, he has been a great person for me to go to in times when I need wisdom and grace over policy and procedure.”

Jason Campbell, Ionia Public Schools Maintenance

Campbell was nominated by Michelle Tackmann, who said, “Mr. Campbell is always willing to help staff with all of their maintenance needs. He always has the walkways shoveled and salted to ensure a safe walk in. He is always cheery in the morning and helps with anything from replacing window shades to getting up on ladders for staff. He makes Ionia Public Schools a better place to work!”

Andrew Patrick, Bus Driver and Transportation Office Assistant

Patrick was nominated by IPS Superintendent Ben Gurk, who said, “Mrs. Patrick has gone above and beyond the call of duty and demonstrated our teamwork core value throughout this school year. She has taken on duties outside her responsibilities de ella in order to maintain our bus routes for our students during personnel shortages due to COVID-19. Additionally, she also coaches our dance team. We are grateful for her positive leadership from her.”


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