District honors six employees

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The Hastings School Board recognized six District 200 employees at its December meeting. The Employees of the Semester for semester one of the 2017-18 school year were honored with a certificate and gift card.

They are Ron Behnke, lead computer technician district wide; Tim Collins, superintendent; Eric Dietz, industrial tech teacher at the high school; Korean Geiken, lead cook at Pinecrest Elementary; Kyle Latch, principal at Kennedy Elementary; and Patty Perez, paraprofessional at Tilden.

As each employee was honored, Board President Lisa Hedin read the statements of the employee nomination. The statements read as follows.

Ron Behnke

Ron is the best! We are all so grateful for the work he does for the district. Ron is not only extremely knowledgeable in the technology area, he is professional and kind. He handles every technology issue with a great attitude even if the problem is something that is minor. He never makes you feel guilty for asking for his help, he is so approachable and very patient which makes working with him wonderful.

Countless times Ron has made a trip over to help fix something so that we are able to do our jobs. He comes in a timely manner and is always just a phone call away. It is a true benefit to our district having employees such as Ron who not only do their work with great integrity but are also incredibly kind and helpful.

Tim Collins

Mr. Collins has been the superintendent in Hastings for 15 years. Over that time we have gone from statutory operating debt to fiscal solvency. This happened in no small part due to Mr. Collins' fiscal aptitude. We have passed five levy referendums and two bond referendums, because Mr. Collins is able to explain to our community the reasons for these referendums in a straightforward no nonsense manner. Mr. Collins has had to make tough decisions that are not always popular, closing both Tilden and Cooper were not easy but were necessary. Mr. Collins continues to be fiscally responsible and fiercely competitive, but as we have seen in recent years, he is also able to have fun with the staff and encourage them to have fun with each other and their students. His "Welcome Back" programs have become legendary and he is certainly not afraid to have a little fun at his own expense.

As we continue to navigate the waters of declining enrollment and school funding, it is clear that Mr. Collins will continue to strive for a good balance between the fiscal responsibility required by our community and what is best for the students and staff of Hastings Public Schools. Leadership is not about outstanding achievements. It's about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to accomplish that goal, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. This may not always make Mr. Collins popular but it does make him good at his job.

Erik Dietz

Erik, is one those teachers who exhibits the essence of a gifted teacher. Erik is very in tune with his students and the varying degrees of skills that they bring to his class. On many occasions he has accommodated the needs, skill levels and interests to suit the needs of individual students to give each student the opportunity to create a project that the students can do on his or her own. Erik's passion for young people is obvious when he works with and teaches his students. It shows in his patience as he graciously guides, directs and answers questions multiple times in a class period. It show as he continually helps and assists students not seeing their questions as interruptions but as learning opportunities and it shows in his dedication. He's a caring, patient teacher who always has a smile on his face and is ready to help students at any time.

Korean Geiken

Korean is the lead cook at Pinecrest Elementary which serves the largest elementary student body in the district. Korean Geiken does an amazing job serving and feeding a huge number of students breakfast and lunch. She has found creative ways to meet the needs of over 200 student in the morning who eat breakfast. She goes above and beyond for our students and staff creating an inviting environment for students and staff alike to enjoy their breakfast or lunch.

Kyle Latch

Kyle has done an exemplary job at JFK Elementary in the short time he has been the principal. Kyle goes above and beyond every, single day. No matter the challenge, Kyle steps up with a smile and positive attitude. There was a mishap with the automated calling system the first day of school, Kyle handled the situation with the professionalism of a pro. He was informative, understanding, kind, collected and patient during the frantic parent phone calls, communicating with law enforcement, overwhelmed staff, etc. Kyle also works hard to make the new Bridge Program successful at Kennedy. This involves hours of preparation with staff, hours of communication with parents, and hours of paperwork to make it the best possible environment for the students. On most days you can find him outside greeting students and parents before school. You can tell he genuinely cares about and values his students and his work.

Patty Perez

Patty has worked for the district for a number of years, most recently at Tilden, but in that time she has become a valuable member of the Tilden team.

Her energy and kindness is contagious! She comes to work every day with a smile and laugh. She makes everyone around her feel special. Watching Patty interact with kids is inspiring. She treats every child like they are her own. She is an absolutely amazing PSA and her attitude and dedication to our district should be recognized.

Patty is one of the friendliest, kindest and most positive people I have ever met. She makes coming to work each day a great experience for both the students and the staff.