Honor Credit Union selects Dowagiac teachers for annual Teacher Awards

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, November 14, 2018

DOWAGIAC — Honor Credit Union kicked off its ninth annual Teacher Awards in August and invited teachers to submit a short description of how they would use an extra $100 to better educate their students. Nearly 350 submissions were received throughout Honor’s 24 local branch communities. Honor team members read all submissions and blindly chose 40 winners to receive a check for $100.

Amongst Honor’s 40 Teacher Award recipients is Dowagiac’s Kristin Ausra, a kindergarten teacher at Justus Gage Elementary School. Honor’s Dowagiac Branch Manager, Janie Reifenberg, surprised Ausra and her classroom on Nov. 1 to present her with the $100 check.

“The teachers in my community are so dedicated to every student,” said Honor’s Dowagiac Branch Manager, Janie Reifenberg. “I’m so honored to have the opportunity to give back to our schools and teachers in Dowagiac through not only our annual Teacher Awards but also through our student credit union program at Dowagiac Middle School and by sponsoring and volunteering at our local events.”

Kristin Ausra has been a teacher for six years, four of which has been spent as a kindergarten teacher at Justus Gage. According to Ausra, she went to into teaching because she saw a need to help children learn their potential and she wanted to influence a child’s life.

“I hope I have become someone they can trust, respect, and turn to when they are in need,” Ausra told Reifenberg. “I am so excited to be picked for this great opportunity, and that Honor Credit Union has these opportunities for teachers like me. I know, just like most teachers, that we always want more for our students and classrooms. This grant is the perfect opportunity to help enrich some of my classroom materials. This grant will be giving my students new opportunities to work on STEM activities. I can help develop math, science, critical thinking, and teamwork skills in my students at an early age using these new materials. Hopefully, these skills stay with them over the years and get stronger with more time and practice.”

In addition to Honor’s 40 winners of the $100 Teacher Awards, Honor team members also donated school supplies and prizes such as water bottles, hand sanitizer, lip balm, and sunglasses to eight other teachers based off their needs detailed in their Teacher Award submissions. Among these eight alternative winners is Dowagiac’s Katrina Lee, a 12th-grade teacher at Dowagiac Union High School.

According to Lee’s submission at honorcu.com, she is teaching Dowagiac seniors how math is used in the real world by focusing on setting financial goals, budgeting, earning paychecks and keeping track of money through a classroom ongoing activity of earning “money” (they receive play money for different tasks), saving money and making good choices on spending money.

To help Lee encourage the students to learn money management, Janie Reifenberg surprised Katrina by donating a collection of pencils, pens, blank check registers, deposit tickets and other financial tools for Lee’s senior math class. 

Honor Credit Union is committed to staying true to its roots in supporting local schools and teachers, and the Annual Teacher Awards is just one of the many ways Honor gives back throughout the year, Reifenberg said.

To learn more about Honor’s involvement in the schools, visit HonorCU.com/Teachers.