CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri, Dec. 18, 2015 – Two Southeast Missouri State University alumnae — Jodi Schutzenhofer of Florissant, Missouri, and Jill Pickard of De Soto, Missouri — recently were honored with 2015 Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awards.
The two were selected by their schools’ administration to celebrate their achievements and dedication to the teaching profession. The awards were presented in November at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis at a ceremony and reception, where recipients received Tiffany & Co. crystal apples.
Schutzenhofer teaches for the Special School District of St. Louis County at Hazelwood West High School in the Hazelwood School District. She graduated from Southeast in 1984 with a Master of Arts in audiology and stayed at Southeast to take courses for speech-language pathology certification at the master’s level for American Speech Language Hearing Association national certification. She previously earned her Bachelor of Science in speech pathology in 1983 from Southeast.
Pickard teaches 9th-12th grade math – Advanced Geometry, Algebra II and Pre-Calculus — at Herculaneum High School in the Dunklin R-5 School District. This is her 26th year in teaching, with 22 years at Herculaneum High School. Pickard graduated summa cum laude from Southeast in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, secondary education, with a major in mathematics education.
“I was truly humbled to learn that I had been nominated for, and earned the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award. It is my philosophy to treat each student as an individual and celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem,” says Schutzenhofer. “Most times, those ‘small’ steps are incredibly huge for not only the students themselves, but for their families as well. Seeing their joy is what makes my job worth every struggle with every student. Earning the Emerson Award was my way to celebrate with every student with whom I have ever worked.”
Schutzenhofer said she has been working as a speech-language pathologist and audiologist since 1985, with her first position in a private clinic in Joplin, Missouri. At that time, she worked in early childhood programs in rural southeast Kansas, northwest Arkansas, and southwest Missouri. She later returned to St. Louis and worked for a private, non-profit rehabilitation agency, where she operated a program for pre-school children with speech and language impairments. She began working in 1990 for the Special School District, where she has remained.
“I was asked to work at Hazelwood West in 2001 in order to run a program for students with Autism and emotional disturbances,” she said. “It was necessary for me to obtain certification in special education in order, so I added another certificate to my resume. That program was my dream job! Let’s just say, those students had such a huge impact on so many of the students in this building, as well as myself!”
Schutzenhofer said, “Southeast Missouri State University was my home for almost eight years. My professors in the Communication Disorders Department were my second family. They challenged me, encouraged me, and most of all believed in me, while providing a solid foundation of knowledge. They taught me that learning is a lifelong process, and while I felt prepared to accept my first position as a speech-language pathologist and audiologist, I was assured that I was never going to be finished learning new concepts. I attribute my success to my parents and my professors. I encourage high school students to consider Southeast Missouri State University on almost a daily basis!”
Pickard added, “Winning the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award is a tremendous honor and I am thankful to those who nominated me. It is rewarding to be acknowledged for what I do, and I would like to thank everyone — students, fellow teachers, administrators, family — who has been a part of my teaching career.”
She also said her Southeast education has played a vital role in her success as an educator.
“I had some excellent professors who showed a genuine interest in their students,” Pickard said. “My cooperating teacher during my student teaching experience did a great job not only modeling teaching techniques but provided insight into the teaching profession. My year as a walk-on on the basketball team provided me some opportunities that I would not have otherwise experienced. I met many great people, students and staff, who played a part in my becoming a teacher.”
Patrick J. Sly, Emerson executive vice president, said, “Emerson is proud to showcase the St. Louis-area’s most dedicated educators for continuing to strengthen local students’ love for learning and desire to succeed. It is truly our honor to support these outstanding professionals whose passion for teaching inspires and motivates their students to achieve bright futures.”
Award recipients will have the opportunity to apply for a Gold Star Grant from Emerson to be presented in spring 2016. Honorees from this year and the past five years are eligible to apply for the competitive grants, which are designed to fund educational projects that reflect the pillars of the Emerson brand – technology, innovation and leadership. Since 2006, Emerson has awarded $440,000 to area teachers and schools through the Gold Star Grant program.
The Excellence in Teaching Awards program began in 1989 and is sponsored annually by Emerson, a diversified global manufacturer and technology leader headquartered in St. Louis.