LPS honors best of the best in newly revamped recognition program
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Livonia Public Schools is proud to announce this year’s staff recognition program honorees for Educators of the Year and Support Staff of the Year.  

After an extensive nomination and review process, a nine-member committee selected the following honorees for the 2018-2019 school year:

Elementary Educator of the Year Katie Emert, a third grade teacher at Randolph Elementary.
Katie Emert

Emert is a 12-year employee of Livonia Public Schools and has served in many roles during that time, including resource room teacher, third and fourth grade teacher, literacy leader, Lighthouse Team member, School Improvement Team leader and the Academic Action Team member. She is known for being a skilled teacher who positively impacts students who need extra support.

“Every single day is a new adventure when you are a teacher,” she said. “You truly never know if a student is going to get off the bus happy or upset… My philosophy is that every child can learn and, if given the opportunity, can live up to the standards that are set for them.”

Emert has a way of reaching even the most challenging students.

“She inspires her students and colleagues through her mindful interactions at Randolph each day,” said Randolph Principal Mike Daraskavich.

Elementary Educator of the Year Julie Juenemann, elementary student assistance provider at Cooper Upper Elementary.
Julie Juenemann

Juenemann is a 28-year employee of Livonia Public Schools and has served in her current role as an elementary student assistance program provider for 11 years. She holds a Pd.D. and is a member of several professional psychology associations.

In LPS, Juenemann makes community connections that help support students and families in need of assistance. In her role at Cooper, she manages student health care plans, holiday and summer assistance (holiday gifts, food), individual student support with issues such as anxiety, grief, divorce or separation of parents and many other topics. She offers support groups that focus on issues ranging from bullying to suicide.  She created sets of lessons for classroom teachers to easily incorporate the district’s Community with Character respectful interactions and traits.

“This (ESAP) program promotes students’ social-emotional development, which goes hand-in-hand with students’ academic achievement, life success and life satisfaction,” said Juenemann.

Secondary Educator of the Year Craig Barker, U.S. History and Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher at Stevenson High School.
Craig Barker

Barker is an 18-year teacher in Livonia Public Schools and is known for his engaging teaching style and for his care and dedication to SHS and the district. Through the years, he has been involved in many aspects of Stevenson, from being head Quiz Bowl coach, SHS webmaster, SHS social media administrator and student newspaper advisor to class sponsor, SHS historian, textbook committee member and unofficial technology go-to person for staff at SHS.

His teaching philosophy centers around fairness and kindness. His students know that, with hard work, they can reach the goals that he and his students have established together.

His passion shines through at Stevenson. As an alum, he shares stories about his time as a student at SHS or stories about the history of the school, in order to make the lessons more relatable for his students.

“This is not a job to him,” said SHS Assistant Principal Pete Mazzoni. “Teaching at Stevenson High School is his passion. He is always positive, thoughtful and understanding of students’ needs.”

Secondary Educator of the Year Matthew Fryer, 8th grade U.S. History teacher at Emerson Middle School.
Matt Fryer

Fryer is a 20-year LPS employee who has been teaching history at Emerson for the past decade. He is known for his “coach” personality and teaching style, his enthusiasm and his passion for teaching students the history of the United States.

Outside of the classroom, he is the lead organizer of the annual trip to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. for eighth grade students. He plans and coordinates all aspects of the trip, including ways for students to fund-raise to help cover the expense.

He is also the lead teacher for the Civil War Days experience at Emerson, a weeklong, interactive program for eighth grade students to learn from Civil War re-enactors from the “Michigan 17th Union Regiment,” and “Bledsoe’s Battery.” Students also participate in military drills, learn about camp life and listen to stories from a Civil War historian and impressionists portraying Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

Fryer is also the social studies department chair, parking lot traffic and crossing guard, served as lead teacher for summer school, organized Thanksgiving food baskets for families in need and more.

In the classroom, he said, “It is about establishing an environment of trust, safety, respect, responsibility and learning. I truly believe that 99% of teaching is about establishing relationships with my students. If my students feel that I am truly invested in them, through my thoughts, words, actions and ideas, then they will have confidence in themselves and an environment in which they can truly be successful.”

Support Staff Person of the Year Anthony Mazzella, or “Mr. Tony,” is  the building supervisor at Hoover Elementary, where he has worked for the past seven years. He is a 32-year employee of LPS.
Tony Mazzella

Outside of his responsibilities in keeping Hoover Elementary clean and safe, Mazzella has served on the District Enrollment and Building Utilization Committee and on the school-level renovations committee. He goes above and beyond and builds relationships with students and parents at Hoover.

“Tony stands at the front doors every morning and greets students with kindness as they arrive at Hoover,” said Hoover Principal Julie Linn. “He says ‘good morning,’ high-fives and encourages students to walk quickly so they are not late. When a student has a problem, Tony is there to assist and is very empathetic.”

He supervises the student service squad, serves as a ‘silent mentor’ and has even accompanied students as their “special person” at events such as Doughnuts with Dads. Tony takes great pride in Hoover, and spends hours, several times per year, painting the front windows of the school.

“He works hard to make sure that our ‘curb appeal’ looks great,” said Linn.

When he is not taking care of the school, he can be found pitching in by answering phones, delivering a forgotten lunch to a student, working noon duty or bus duty.

“While my job as a custodian is to keep the building clean and functioning, I truly feel that I have provided so much more, by helping to create a safe, fun and warm environment,” said Mazzella.

Support Staff Person of the Year Pat Pepple, secretary at Buchanan Elementary.
Pat Pepple

Pepple is a 33-year employee of LPS and is in her second year as secretary at Buchanan Elementary. Previously, she was the secretary at Cass Elementary.

She is known for her cheerful demeanor and her welcoming smile. When she welcomes a student, parent or any other guest into Buchanan, she takes personal pride.

“It is very important to me that students, staff and the community feel welcome and comfortable whenever they walk into our building,” said Pepple. “It is our home away from home, which makes us a family.”

She is the go-to person for students when they are not feeling well, if they are having a rough day or even if they need their worries to be calmed. She’s even worked on class work with a student who was particularly anxious about the assignment.

“By being supportive and positive, it helped give him confidence and encouragement to tackle what he thought he did not understand, and to realize that he actually knew what to do, all along,” she said.

Buchanan Principal Jon Wennstrom said, “Pat is the best secretary and one of the most inspiring and caring people I have had the pleasure to work with in the past 24 years. She is the heart of the school and the face and voice of Buchanan. She cares about everyone!”


A special recognition program was held on Monday, November 26 during the regular meeting of the Board of Education.
employee recognition
From left, Tony Mazzella, Matt Fryer, Craig Barker, Katie Emert, Pat Pepple, Julie 
Juenemann and Superintendent Andrea Oquist.