2022 CODE Teacher Leaders

Employees  /  News

CODE Mission: To celebrate and recognize teacher leaders who make significant contributions to the growth of their students, inspire fellow educators and effectively support the district mission.

The David Douglas School District Cadre of Distinguished Educators (CODE) is a group of educators who come together seeking to elevate the practice of teaching and learning in our District. CODE was established to promote teacher leadership and pathways for professional development. Each year, teachers across the district are asked to nominate a colleague who stands out. 

Sixteen teachers from programs across the district were nominated as Teacher Leaders through the CODE Teacher Leader nomination process. Five High School Teachers, four Middle School Teachers and seven Elementary Teachers were nominated this year. Seven of these educators were selected as outstanding nominees.

Nekicia Luckett – 4th Grade at Lincoln Park

Nominated by Will Hewitt

Here is what colleagues had to say…

Nekicia Luckett is an elite level educator who challenges all of her students to the highest expectations while also working with each individual to encourage them to realize their great potential. She has amazing knowledge of a wide range of resources and is particularly dedicated to science with that being a background expertise of hers.

As a teammate, she loves collaborating and is always available to tackle a project or task together. She is encouraging and positive and a true supporter that makes it fun to come to work each day. Ms. Luckett is uniquely gifted at finding resources and partnerships in the community. Each year she finds numerous field trip opportunities and connections for her entire grade level team to share in.

Incredibly, she is also responsible for finding a pathway for college student volunteers at Lincoln Park, many of whom volunteered years longer than their initial one college class commitment because of the powerful relational bridge Ms. Luckett built with them. Some of these volunteers even helped out numerous classrooms online during our extended CDL times.

One of the biggest passions in her heart is her great dedication to both culturally responsive teaching and social justice. If you are blessed to know and be friends with her, these things are easily recognizable as her callings in life. She has led multi-year book studies and impactful discussion groups for many colleagues and friends which has been a true gift in every sense.

Ms. Luckett incorporates these foundations into her daily teaching every year and is a great resource for teachers needing ideas on how to best initiate these frameworks. She provides culturally responsive, highly effective instruction, engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, establishes high standards and expectations

In addition, on her own time, she created incredibly powerful student social justice clubs during distance learning where she led lessons guided by compassion, empathy and the intrinsic value of every person. Students were empowered to share their own voices about social justice causes and issues as well work collaboratively on how to be leaders at the school. Ms. Luckett is an advocate for all students at Lincoln Park Elementary and a passionate force of positivity. It is a blessing to know her and teach with her.

Rick Buhr-Gund – 3rd grade & 4th grade at West Powellhurst

Nominated by Elise Wyrostek

Here is what colleagues had to say…

Rick is definitely a teacher leader. He incorporates a lot of technology and language into his lessons. He creates and shares his resources and has a collaborative mindset. Rick also connects with all of his families by using TalkingPoints App and has been trying to teach himself other languages, so that he can communicate with his students.

Rick has created ELD lessons connected to Toolbox using Google slides and has shared them with all of our WP teachers to use.

Rick creates impressive detailed lesson plans for each day using Google slides. The slides include all of his learning targets, expectations, lessons, activities, transitions, etc. It also makes it extremely easy for a substitute to step into his classroom and follow his lessons.

This year, Rick has a student who speaks Vietnamese. He has started teaching himself Vietnamese to make that student feel comfortable and to be able to connect with his student. Rick also speaks Spanish and has done a great job connecting with one of his Spanish speaking newcomers this year.

Rick is always open to collaborating with others. He’s not afraid to ask questions and is consistently open to feedback and suggestions.

Rick is currently on Site Council and has contributed to writing and implementing our SIP.

Rick engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, develops students socially, emotionally and academically, contributes positively to our diverse society

I have truly enjoyed working with Rick! I love his collaborative mindset and innovative lesson plans using Google slides. Rick is definitely an inspiration for others!

Michael Givler – Drama / Theater Arts at David Douglas High School

Nominated by David Rosenbaum

Here is what colleagues had to say…

Throughout the entire covid saga, Michael has refused to let the quality of his teaching or his standards drop, despite significantly increased challenges. He has put more time into serving students than anyone else I know, has pivoted in creative ways to meet students’ needs, and is constantly looking to improve his program when most of us are just trying to get by.

Revamping his speech class curriculum to meet the needs of his students, 2. Producing a movie of war of the worlds during quarantine last year when students couldn’t do an in-person play, 3. Acting as a leader in our regional and state high school theater community (thespians), 4. Adapting distance learning lesson plans to a classroom setting to improve his lessons.

He establishes high standards and expectations, develops students socially, emotionally and academically, and cultivates skills necessary for lifelong learning.

Sabrina Sommer – Counselor at David Douglas High School

Nominated by Viri Negrete

Here is what colleagues had to say…

Sabrina is an exemplary educator. She co-leads our equity team with passion to support closing the achievement gap of our underrepresented groups of students. She has ensured that all of her students feel supported and has created a safe space for students and families. She has gone above and beyond her duties, such as translating for Spanish-speaking families during urgent requests.

She has led our student Latinx group during the time that she has been at DDHS. She has led and continues to lead our Latino Parent Group. She is involved in several district committees to support the district’s equity mission.

She engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, delivers student-centered actions, develops students socially, emotionally and academically, ensures safe learning environments, collaborates with families and community partners, contributes positively to our diverse society, empowers students to advocate for themselves.

Tara Hridel – Science Teacher at Fir Ridge Campus

Nominated by Craig McCord

Here is what colleagues had to say…

Tara consistently develops her curriculum to be demanding yet accessible and stimulating yet relevant. Nobody in our school has such high standards and expectations of students, yet I’ve never heard any complain about her because they know she cares about them and is passionate about the subject. She gives quality feedback to students, being tough and firm while making sure they always feel safe and respected. She pushes herself to think outside the box to meet the standards but hold students accountable.

Her Forensic Science class is incredibly engaging, demonstrated by the many students over the years who have become interested in the field as a potential career. She has greatly enhanced the science literacy of class after class of Fir Ridge graduates for over ten years. She has constantly evolved and adapted her curriculum, specifically in regard to culturally responsive teaching. She is passionate about making positive change in our school and district, demonstrated by her volunteering to be the leader of our school’s equity team.

She provides culturally responsive, highly effective instruction, engages in continual professional learning and reflective practice, establishes high standards and expectations.

Jaime Robillard – 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Ron Russell Middle School

Nominated by Pete O’Farrell, Erinn Carillo, Sadie Kenzler, and two others

Here is what colleagues had to say…

Ms. Robillard provides accessible, culturally responsive lessons to her students and is always willing to engage in meta-analysis of her practices. She takes the time to break down her thinking when planning and when collaborating, when she could simply claim her expertise. 

If there is something going on supporting students at Ron Russell, you can bet Jaime is leading it. From Green Team, to the Scott’s Angels Penny Wars, to Tracker Parties, and so much more, Jaime is a fierce advocate for students to have the best experience in and out of the classroom at Ron Russell. Jaime has done all this while “breaking in” three new teachers in the last two years who have leaned on her wisdom and experience to get through. 

Jaime is a great Social Studies teacher. She plans interesting and inclusive lessons to teach history. Her classes are engaging and have high standards. Studente appreciated her humor and caring and therefore produce quality work. 

Ms. Robillard has taken several first year teachers under her wing. She always makes time to be a resource for any teachers who are looking for help. She works collaboratively and builds relationships, rather than resorting to being “bossy” or combative. I am very thankful to work with a teacher leader such as her. 

Jaime is one of the most conscientious teachers I’ve encountered with being supportive of students of ALL abilities, making extra efforts to differentiate and work with our SPED team to support those students. She is also involved in EVERYTHING at the school. She is the Green Team leader, Track Coach, and was coordinator of leadership. 

Jaime has been at RRMS for 7 years. She brought teaching experience to her position at Ron Russell. During her tenure at RR, she has had a new teaching partner each and every year. She has become team leader and student advocate by sheer necessity. She never gives up on students and on her new colleagues. She keeps a positive attitude although her journey has been tough. New curriculum, brand new teachers and a pandemic are just a few.

Laura Moe – Language Arts Teacher at Alice Ott Middle School

Nominated by Bruce James, Jackie Cherry, and Sarah Ballman

Here is what colleagues had to say…

Ms. Moe is the consummate teacher, a teacher’s teacher. If I were in a graduate program for aspiring teachers I would want Laura to be my mentor.

First of all, Laura is a great coach for technology. She is willing to show staff all sorts of tricks and tips of incorporating technology into ELA learning. She is patient, kind and has an excellent sense of humor. She is an essential contributor in all of our school teams and has a knack for rephrasing, summarizing, and refocusing any conversation to find the essential question or direction needed. 

Not only does she mentor other staff but she is a great mentor and teacher for the students. She has great interpersonal skills and connects with all students on any topic. Her classroom demeanor sets high standards but is also comfortable and kids feel “seen” and understood. She is great at scaffolding the instruction and making it accessible to all levels of learners. Because she always has tons of videos and demos recorded and posted on her assignments, parents also have access to the curriculum and can better support their child.

Laura brings so much energy and thoughtfulness to her teaching practice. It is easy to see that she gives 100% every single day. She has high standards and holds her students accountable to them; she expects engagement and participation and works hard to achieve it. In addition she co-leads our Equity Team with insight and clarity. She truly is an exceptional and inspiring colleague.

Laura is typically ahead of the curve with technology and more than willing to share her expertise. She takes her job seriously and works hard for every student. 

She builds strong student relationships and makes sure her students know she’s there to support them. She is the best person on staff to ask for tech help; she knows everything there is to know about Google Classroom and Synergy, and often makes helpful videos to share with colleagues. She is dedicated to striving for equity and doesn’t shy away from hard conversations, but she is the most tactful and kind person.

Laura really is an unsung hero in our school. People come to her all the time to talk and her frank demeanor is non-threatening and very supportive. Also, I’m a Learning Specialist and she is always my most recommended placement for students with disabilities. She really meets anybody on any level and my students make excellent progress not only academically but she does such a great mentoring job of helping them develop their advocacy of using all the tools she designs and provides so that their “learned helplessness” starts to fade. She is way beyond paper/pencil tasks so they develop confidence that they can do more than they thought and it eases their anxiety.

Others Who Were Nominated

  • Greta Wesslen – Physical Therapist – South Powellhurst
  • Doreen Maness – Math Teacher Floyd Light Middle School
  • Toni Maxwell – 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher – Floyd Light Middle School
  • Jesse Raskausk – Kindergarten – Gilbert Heights
  • LeAnne Rowe – 2nd Grade Teacher – Lincoln Park
  • Ivy Paradissis – Kindergarten – Lincoln Park
  • Erin Betker – Special Education – Ventura Park
  • Megan Hill – 1st Grade Teacher – West Powellhurst