The Copper Country Association of School Boards holds an annual awards ceremony to recognize students, employees and community members from area schools who have made a significant meritorious impact on the educational system. All nominations must meet a specific set of criteria. (Click here to view criteria PDF Format.) Awards are also presented at the ceremony to local school boards and individual school board members who have reached milestones in the Michigan Association of School Boards’ Board Member Awards Program.
The following individuals from the CCISD were presented with awards for the 2018-19 school year at a dinner ceremony on April 17, 2019, at the Magnuson Franklin Square Inn. Information is also provided concerning this year’s area-wide Copper Country Leadership Award recipient.
Outstanding Education Employee Award: Heather Mroz
This year’s Outstanding Educator is Heather Mroz, CCISD’s Behavior Specialist, and Coordinator of the Social Skills Teaching Program located at the Learning Center. Heather also provides Outreach support to the Local Districts of the three county area, supporting teams of teachers and administrators in facilitating plans for students with significant behaviors, whether they are General Ed and Special Ed students. Heather is also one of the trainers of CPI, which stands for Crisis Prevention Institute. Heather has provided training to ISD staff and Local schools’ staff. Heather is also a member of the MTSS Team that provides training on Positive Behavior Interventions and Support to local partners, including Calumet, Houghton, and Baraga.
The Social Skills Teaching Program currently serves local students who are exhibiting severe, unsafe behaviors. Through Heather’s support, experience, and fastidious attention to detail, procedures, and communication, the two Special Education Teachers in the Social Skills program have developed their classrooms to be highly structured, predictable, and successful. Currently, five of the seven Middle School or High School students in the Social Skills Program are ready to be reintegrated back into their local schools or are attending CTE classes. Of the seven elementary students, one of whom has been there one week, three students are beginning the reintegration process back to their local school. Recently, our state contracted Behavior Specialist and Autism Support Specialist, Kelly Rogers, observed students in our Social Skills Programs to provide support and guidance. She complimented the Social Skills Program for what they are doing under the leadership of Heather and the hard work by the staff.
Heather is also working with the our Social Worker to train staff in implementing Trauma-informed practices, supporting students who are dealing with traumatic life events and toxic stress. This includes using research-based Social and Emotional curriculum to teach new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Heather is instrumental in coordinating and collaborating with Community Partners, including Copper Country Mental Health Staff and the local Police, Probation, and Court personnel. Through all of these efforts, Heather is a support to countless students, staff, and administrators in decreasing negative behaviors and increasing learning in the Copper Country!
We are proud to present Heather Mroz with the Copper Country ISD’s Outstanding Educator Award.
School Service Award: Janel Summers
The Copper Country ISD has selected Janel Summers for our School Service Award. Janel is our Special Education Instructional Coach who works with our local schools, helping teachers support students with autism. Though Janel is doing a great job in our local schools that is not why we are honoring her today. It is for what Janel does above and beyond working for the schools, that she is being honored.
Janel has reached out to many local emergency organizations to help train their employees on how to communicate with and evaluate a child with Autism, should they come across such a child while responding to an emergency. Janel has trained the Keweenaw County Sheriff, local first responders and volunteer fire departments in Ahmeek and Bootjack to use a specialized communication board to help students who are non-verbal communicate with emergency personnel. Janel has also provided trainings for the Houghton County Fire Department, local police and first responders. Janel has trained Mercy Ambulance staff and Portage emergency room staff to also use communication boards.
Janel, with the help of our CTE Health Occupations class, organized a Sensory Sensitive Emergency Room Night at Portage hospital for families who have students on the autism spectrum. Families visited the emergency room and students participated in centers run by CTE students. This helped students with autism become more familiar with the emergency room and the typical procedures they may undergo while there. Janel worked with The Copper Country Autism Awareness group to provide parents and students with an Autism Safety Day. There they got to meet emergency personnel, explore emergency vehicles, and try on safety gear. Parents completed emergency information cards for their vehicles and child identification stickers or seatbelt covers were provided that identified that the child in the vehicle has autism and may not be able to communicate.
Janel is not done and has many other projects ready to go, such as hosting another Sensory Sensitive Emergency Room night and Safety Day in May. Many local fire departments, police departments, ambulances, first responder groups, along with other rescue groups will be invited to participate. Portage’s ER has asked Janel to do another sensory sensitive ER night because they are getting more and more patients that have autism. Janel has offered training to the Pelkie, Covington, and Bay Ambulance as well as other volunteer fire departments.
It is because of her service to help outside of the classroom, serving our whole community to help children with Autism and their families that we are proud to present Janel Summers with the Copper Country ISD’s School Service Award.
Student Leadership Award: William Kotajarvi
William Kotajarvi is a senior in the High School MiCI Program located at Hancock High School. He loves the outdoors and has an interest in working on an Ore boat like his uncle. William has the Boat locator app on his phone and keeps track of where they are on the big lakes. He also has an interest in buying a tractor, so he can start his own plowing business on the side.
William is a busy senior. He enrolled in the Auto Tech CTE course last spring, but when he learned about the Welding class early in the year, he advocated for himself to switch classes. William knows that welders are in high demand. He has been very successful in the class, according to his instructor, Mr. Stites. William also works at Econo Foods one time per week, and he works at Quincy’s once per week as a part of Work-based learning. He has a paid position at the CCISD Learning Center, where he works as a student custodian every afternoon.
William is pleasant and appropriate, and he is a very good worker. He listens to NPR radio and drinks coffee, and he talks about retiring, some of the things a working guy might do! Good luck, William!
Pictured above: Nels Christopherson, CCISD Board Vice-President, Heather Mroz; Bob Tuomi, CCISD Board President; Janel Summers; William Kotajarvi; and Robert Loukus, CCISD Board Treasurer.
Copper Country Education Leadership Award: Margaret (Peggy) Myllyoja.
The Copper Country Association of School Boards’ Leadership Award is given to someone who has demonstrated leadership, commitment and effort in support of public K-12 education in the Copper Country.
Peg Myllyoja worked for the Copper Country ISD for an amazing 41 years. She began her work in the Vocational Ed Department for 8 years, then moved to the Special Ed Department for 19 years and for the last 14 years worked as the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent. It has been an impressive career.
Though Peg was employed by the CCISD, her impact on all the Copper Country schools over the last 41 years is the reason she is receiving this award tonight.
Forty years ago, when vocational education was just starting, Peg helped organize a Career Day for local high school students at MTU. She also assisted all local schools with state reporting for CTE classes.
When Peg moved into the Special Ed Department, she was ahead of her time in designing fillable electronic special education forms for IEPs. These forms were adopted by our local school districts and used for over a decade before the state developed their own means of electronic submission. Peg recorded IEPs for ALL our local schools for the Michigan Department of Education, creating customized reports for local schools that they requested and MDE could not provide at the time.
When Peg became the Administrative Assistant to the CCISD superintendent, she took on new challenges that supported the local schools. One such challenge was with substitute teachers. Prior to 2017, it was Peg who registered all subs in our area. She alone was responsible for maintaining the on-line sub list provided to schools. This was a monumental task, as Peg took on the challenge of reviewing all transcripts, conducting background checks and applying for permits. It was because of Peg’s efforts that schools did not have to do all these pieces themselves.
During Peg’s 41 years, the wealth of knowledge she accumulated was impressive. Many local administrators would call the superintendent’s office, not to talk with the superintendent, but to ask Peg a question, because they knew if anyone would know the answer, it would be Peg.
Finally, I want to talk about what Peg has done for this organization, the Copper Country Association of School Boards. The CCASB first organized during the 1999-2000 school year. This organization is made up of school board members from every school district and has many meetings and events during a year. Every year a different school hosts those meetings and events. Now imagine, every year, there is a new board member and superintendent in charge for the year. Every year, that school’s board member and superintendent say the same thing, thank God, we have Peg. It has been Peg who has coordinated all meetings and events with the host district. This included preparing the agendas and programs, sending out all the notices and reminders, dealing with RSVPs and sign-in sheets, booking rooms and catering for the regular meetings. Peg also took care of necessary arrangements for our Legislative Luncheons, our New School Board Orientations and of course all that was needed to get everything ready for a night like tonight, our CCASB Awards. Peg made sure the certificates were made and plaques ordered. She even applied for MASB grants that help pay for events like this. The CCASB owes a great gratitude to Peg for helping this organization provide the quality programs and events it has provided over the last 19 years.
So it is with great pleasure, that on behalf of all our local schools and the Copper Country Association of School Boards, I would like to present Ms. Peggy Myllyoja with our CCASB’s Leadership Award!
Pictured above: George Stockero, CCISD Superintendent; Peggy Myllyoja; Bob Tuomi, CCISD Board Presiden and Nels Christopherson, CCISD Board Vice-President.