Harrisonville School Staff celebrates end of the year with awards

The Harrisonville School District recently recognized several year-end award winners at the district’s end-of-the-year ceremony.

Harrisonville Elementary School special education teacher Sara Doherty was named the Educator of the Year, McEowen Elementary School focus facilitator Tim Ginnings was recognized as the Support Staff Employee of the Year, district gifted teacher Laura Frees was recognized with the Outstanding Community Involvement Award, and Tina Graef was named the Volunteer of the Year.

Doherty is in her fifth year of teaching special education, but has been in the district for six years. The first year was as a computer aide. She has a Bachelor of Elementary Education from the University of Central Missouri and a Master’s in Special Education from the Western Governors University.

Doherty was selected for the honor by a panel of judges from outside the community who interviewed six finalists. The finalists were chosen by the Harrisonville Public School Foundation and district administration selection committee from nominations received from parents, students, and Harrisonville Schools’ staff members.

Nominations for Doherty said, “Sara took on a big change mid year at HES that has changed the way we can service our students who have behavior IEPs. She works to support classroom teachers so that these students can be in the classroom with their teachers and peers as much as possible. Her days are definitely not always easy. However, she takes on each day with love, grace, accountability, and a giant smile.”

The Harrisonville Public School Foundation will provide Doherty with a $500 grant.

Ginnings was also selected by a panel of outside judges from three finalists. He is in his second year in the district.

His nominations cited the following.

“He builds positive relationships with students and teachers. He creates a warm, inviting, safe space for students who need time to either de-escalate or have a preemptive break. Tim works hard to communicate with classroom teachers to create a team mentality in helping some of our neediest students. He is a gem, and McEowen is lucky to have him.”

Ginnings received a $100 award from Sherwood Community Bank. In addition, he will be recognized with a plaque in the district office, and a banner at his school.

Laura Frees was recognized with the Outstanding Community Involvement Award sponsored by Community Bank of Harrisonville.

She received a $100 award from Community Bank, a plaque in the district office, and a banner at her school.

Frees was honored for her work on Fantasia – an event that brings community members and students together to learn. Fantasia began more than 40 years ago and Frees kept it going throughout the pandemic. She transitioned to an online event in 2021 and then returned it to an in-person event this year while continuing to bring new community volunteers and students together.

Finally, Tina Graef was honored as the district’s 2022 Volunteer of the Year. Graef has served on both the Bright Futures Advisory Board and the Board of Education, most recently as Board of Education President. As president, she has led the district through a superintendent search which led to the hiring of the current Superintendent Paul Mensching, the passage of a $22.7 million bond issue and 50 cent levy increase in 2020, and a pandemic.

The award winners were recognized during a ceremony on May 20. The ceremony also included the recognition of the district’s retirees.