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Sandy Hamilton: Iowa Alternative Education Educator of the Year.

For years, Vinton-Shellsburg High School counselor Sandy Hamilton has helped students – particularly those who have struggled at times – to navigate the difficulties that face many teenagers.

Hamilton, who has also worked with the Vinton-Shellsburg Alternative High School since its beginning (and helped set up the school) has been named the 2014 Alternative Education Educator of the Year by the Iowa Association of Alternative Education.

Hamilton, along with teachers Tony Stenberg and Jim Mochal, is in Des Moines today for the second day of the annual conference where the organization honored her Thursday evening.

“Sandy works tirelessly for benefit of all our students,” said VSHS Assistant Principal Ryan Davis, who oversees the Alternative High School. “She cares about each and every student who comes through the school. All teachers do care, but Sandy goes the extra mile and the extra mile after that.”

From setting up mentoring programs for struggling high school students, to knocking on the doors of students who failed to show up for class (and staying there until they come to the door), making sure that every student graduates and has the best possible future after high school is Hamilton's top priority, colleagues say.

“She is there early every morning, and she works late after school and on weekends,” said Davis.

Hamilton’s role in the Alternative High School includes meeting with the students and their parents regularly throughout the school year to make sure each family has a graduation plan in place.

“She is constantly brainstorming ideas for ways to help students toward their goals for graduation and after high school,” Davis says. ”She will make sure students graduate.”

The recognition from by the state organization is the “biggest honor a teacher can receive in alternative education,” Davis said.

In the new 1-to-1 mentoring program at VSHS, Hamilton pairs a struggling student with a teacher, who becomes a mentor, meeting regularly with the student to review grades, go over homework and work together to face other challenges

“Those of you who have had the pleasure of working with Sandy know that she puts in countless hours working with students and is very deserving of the award,” says Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock. “There are many students who would tell you they earned their diploma largely due to Sandy’s tenacity and unwillingness to give up on any student.”

About the award

The Iowa Association of Alternative Education presents its Educator of the Year Award annually to the alternative educator who is making a significant contribution to alternative education in Iowa. This award will honor one individual each year who is making an outstanding contribution to his/her students, school and community. Any alternative education teacher, supervisor, administrator, or counselor may be nominated.

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Comments (9)

Everything the article say is so true! Sandy you have done such an amazing job over the years and as a parent, I have been so very thankful for your support and help during my children's high school years. As a VSHS employee, I also value your assistance. Children truly are your #1 priority. Thank you!
By: Lisa Boeckmann on April 11th 12:55pm
Very deserving award! She helped my daughter when pursuing a non-traditional post-secondary class during her senior year and is an advocate for all students needs. You will always see Sandy at students' extra-curricular events in addition to her "day job."
By: Judy Trygstad on April 11th 12:59pm
Congratulations, Sandy!
By: Karen Larson on April 11th 2:51pm
Sandy represents the ultimate in dedication, concern, and creative problem solving. Our school district is blessed by what she does. Comgratulations!!!
By: Don Eells on April 11th 6:28pm
Sandy did go above & beyond helping students or staff with a student. It was a pleasure to work with her in many occasions. Congradulations Sandy
By: Jeanette Henry on April 11th 8:32pm
So glad to hear this. All of the statements sound exactly like the Sandy I know. So happy for her
By: Charlotta Toth-Fisher on April 11th 8:44pm
Congratulations Sandy.
By: Barbara Rego on April 13th 9:09am
Congratulations Sandy!
By: Ilene Kreider on April 13th 2:47pm
Sandy truly has devoted her life to V-S students. She really cares about each and every one of them. She attends tens and tens of yearly graduation celebrations because the kids know she cares about them. Yes, she attends countless concerts, plays, sports events with a smile on her face. In addition to students, she also listens and assists staff members who reach out to her. This award is most deserved. Congratulations!
But do you also karaoke? That's what the pictures suggests? Hidden talent here?
By: Janet Woodhouse on April 13th 6:37pm

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