By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — The stack of nominations for Celeste Vincent’s A+ For Education award was nearly an inch thick.
It was the largest package KCRG-TV9 had ever received for the honor, which the eastern-Iowa broadcast station gave to Regina Elementary’s principal Jan. 10, said Mike Battien, creative services producer for SourceMedia Group.
Faculty, staff and students surprised Vincent with an assembly during which reporter Jill Kasparie gave her the award. It includes a $250 prize and goes to one educator each month from September to May.
“I couldn’t do this without the best students and staff in the world,” Vincent said. “It’s a pleasure to work with you every day.”
Student council president Sammy Kron presented the principal with booklets containing the nomination letters, drawings and children’s words of appreciation.
Vincent has outstanding character and moral life, intelligence, self-motivation, enthusiasm, sympathy, respect and determination, Sister Mary Frances Michalec, ND, wrote in nominating Vincent. Religious education administrator and student council advisor at Regina, Sr. Michalec suggested the council help nominate Vincent. Students began last fall to help coordinate a letter-writing campaign for the award.
A 1984 graduate of Regina High School, Vincent went on to serve at the elementary school as a reading instructor, fifth-grade teacher and assistant principal. She has been principal since 1997. “As a boss, Celeste excels in her ability to unite and motivate her staff,” wrote Erin Vorwerk, sixth-grade teacher. Always willing to offer suggestions or lend an ear, the principal shows a genuine interest in and understanding of teachers’ lives outside of school, Vorwerk continued.
“She spends countless hours at her job,” wrote third-grade teacher Gail Hensch. “When she isn’t at school, she is attending board meetings, principals’ meetings, education standards meetings, staff meetings, and a number of parent organizational meetings, besides performing the rest of her job description with no complaint.”
Vincent has a great attitude, noted Carolyn Brandt, administrative assistant for religious education. “She greets everyone as they walk through the front doors in the morning. She stops and talks to all the children and parents and asks them how they are doing. She knows everyone by their first name… If any parent has questions she always makes herself available.”
“Mrs. Vincent is an excellent role model and mentor,” wrote sixth-grader Ryan Bonthius. She practices and teaches the pillars of character, such as when she met with students to discuss and settle rules for a problematic soccer tournament during recess, he recalled.
“She treats all of the students with respect and kindness, and has no favorites… I am very thankful to have had Mrs. Vincent as a principal.”