education hero award winners: Rick Reo, Amy Gronda, Cari Houston, Brett Mcnitt Build together logo

Paw Paw Public Schools is pleased to announce this year's winners of the 2024 Educational Hero Awards:  Music Teacher Amy Gronda and Math Teacher Cari Houston.

At last night's Educational Hero Awards Banquet at the Van Buren Intermediate School District, Ms. Gronda and Mrs. Houston were both recognized and presented with their awards.  Superintendent Rick Reo and Board President Brent McNitt were also in attendance as representatives of Paw Paw Public Schools. Education Heros from other districts  in Van Buren County were recognized as well.

In the nomination letter for Amy Gronda,  an excerpt states, "Our family has always had the utmost respect for Amy in music education – always challenging the kids and still making it fun for everyone. The amount of time and effort that Amy puts into making this band fantastic is staggering. Her life is intertwined with the band, and she puts everything into it – which is partly why they are always so great. She always has time to encourage someone who is down, crack a joke with the band, or laugh with the band about something silly. She pushes them to try new things and step out of their comfort zone to try something they have never done before. She leads the band as a leader – not a boss – and students are eager to follow her leadership out of respect for her."

Cari Houston's award was described as follows in the banquet brochure, "Cari, renowned for her excellence in teaching mathematics, goes above and beyond to ensure every student's success. Her dedication is evident in her willingness to help any student facing academic challenges, creating an environment where learning is both enjoyable and accessible. In addition to her exceptional teaching skills, Cari took a pioneering step this year by initiating a new class dedicated to community service. Diving in with a group of 14 upperclassmen in the fall for the inaugural class, she instilled in tl1em the values of empathy, compassion, and community engagement. Through this unique program, Cari has not only contributed to tl1e academic growth of her students but has also played a pivotal role in shaping responsible and caring individuals. Cari's passion for education, coupled with her commitment to community service, makes her a shining example for educators everywhere."

Congratulations to both of these extraordinary educators, and thank you for all the ways you positively impact the lives and experiences of PPPS students!