High standards and expectations for teachers are high in Plainfield. We work diligently to hire the best teachers possible, making sure that the students in this district are getting the best -- every year. Rigorous standards make sure that there isn't a doubt that the Plainfield Teacher of the Year is truly an outstanding educator.
This year, for the first time, we have two recipients of the honor of Plainfield's Teacher of the Year.
Karisa Schwanekamp, 4th Grade teacher at Guilford Elementary, is the district's Elementary representative. Nathan Ellis, PCMS teacher, is the district's Secondary representative.
These two teachers take pride in making sure that the learning in their classrooms is exciting, engaging, and innovative. Mr. Ellis starts every class with a competition, which ensures that students are attentive from the beginning of the class period. With his "Flavor of Friday" experience, he ensures that students are able to try food and drink from all over the world. Students are given opportunities to try something new each Friday, knowing that if they succeed, their names will be added to his wall in perpetuity. This makes for an experience that students have been known to talk about for years afterward.
Mrs. Schwanekamp challenges her students to look around their worlds to find problems and solutions. She has partnered with 'Learning Possible,' where her students researched careers, paired up, used their career skills and solved a real- world problem, such as saving the sea turtles, hunger issues for the elderly, an educational game for the blind, and homelessness for families. Her students took 3 of the 6 top places in the competition! Her continual quest to involve her students in nationwide encounters creates a love of global citizenship that her students will take with them forever.
Classroom instruction and impact is a significant part of the Teacher of the Year consideration, but community service is also a large component. Mr. Ellis is the assistant athletic director at PCMS, where he founded the PCMS Unified Track and Unified Basketball Teams. These teams give our special education students the chance to compete at a middle-school level against other local schools. Mrs. Schwanekamp's students have twice organized the Heart and Sole Shoe Drive, a a shoe drive to benefit Changing Footprints. In 2022, the drive collected 646 pairs of shoes to be redistributed or repurposed, instead of ending up in a landfill.
Over the summer, Mrs. Schwanekamp and Mr. Ellis will complete the in-depth application to the Indiana Department of Education’s state Teacher of the Year program. We are sure that those who have been able to be educated by either one of these teachers have no doubt that they are excellent candidates for the state's highest educator award. We are so proud to have these two teachers at Plainfield!