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|Schultz (click for larger version)|
June 03, 2014 | 04:56 PMWILLIAMS BAY — Lynette Schultz, an English teacher at Williams Bay High School, never attended Lawrence University, Appleton.
She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and the University of Wisconsin.
So she admits to being surprised when she was notified in late April by email that she was selected to receive Lawrence University’s 2014 Outstanding Teaching in Wisconsin Award.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said in an interview last week. She said she first thought it was some kind of spam or bogus offer seeking money.
But she read it again. And then again.
And it began to sink in that the award was legitimate.
“This was from the president of Lawrence University,” Schultz said. “I was at a loss for words.”
Schultz wasn’t the only one the Lawrence University award caught by surprise.
“We like surprises, especially the good ones,” said William White, principal of the junior/senior high school.
“A lot of students connect with Lynette,” he said of Schultz. “I think Lynette has a strong, strong passion for literature.”
Schultz’s connection to Lawrence was one of her former students.
Before coming to Williams Bay High School three years ago, Schultz taught for three years at Kenosha’s St. Joseph High School.
Lindsay Browne, a senior at Lawrence, and a 2010 graduate of St. Joseph’s, had Schultz as her English teacher for three years. Schultz said Browne was sworn to secrecy about her nomination and couldn’t tell Schultz that she was in the running for the award.
“Nothing could have better prepared me more for my future life at Lawrence than Ms. Schultz’s mentorship,” Browne wrote in her nomination letter.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Ms. Schultz is an excellent teacher,” wrote Browne, a biology and history major at Lawrence. “Engaged in the material and with the students she’s teaching …her classes are challenging because she expects her students to work hard and think deeply.
“(S)he greatly encourages and supports the personal academic improvement of her students, offering constructive criticism as well as acknowledging their great work.
“Outside of class-time, Ms. Schultz is almost always available before and after school for students to ask for additional help on homework assignments … but perhaps more importantly, her classroom becomes a safe space for students to ‘hang out.’ Genuinely interested and concerned for her students’ lives outside of class and her intolerance of bullying, Ms. Schultz creates a supportive environment of camaraderie where she and her students can interact in good humor. Her positive relationships with her students continue beyond graduation, as she maintains supportive contact with them through social media.”
A copy of the letter was emailed to Schultz.
And she choked up a little when she mentioned the recommendation letter by Browne.
“It made me realize why I teach all over again,” Schultz said.
Schultz has nine years of teaching experience.
In addition to Williams Bay and St. Joseph’s in Kenosha, Schultz has also taught in the Kenosha Unified School District, was an outreach worker for Kenosha County and also worked as a social worker for the St. Croix Ojibwe Tribe.
At Williams Bay, she teaches AP English, 10th grade English, American Literature, and various electives within the English department.
She is also an adviser to the creative writing club, the drama club and the forensics team.
Schultz was one of two teachers selected as award winners.
The other was Eric Anderson, band director at Verona Area High School.
Schultz said the award recipients received a certificate, a citation and a monetary award from Lawrence President Mark Burstein in ceremonies at the president’s house.
And the two teachers weren’t the only winners. Their schools each received $250 for library acquisitions. According to the Lawrence University website, since launching the award program in 1985, they’ve recognized 62 teachers.