Tess Wearsch named Ohio High School Biology Teacher of the Year

Avon Heritage Elementary School has earned an A+

Students help homeless shelter at St. Joseph's Church

NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 8-25-04, By Julie A. Short

``AVON -- Working with students and witnessing their accomplishments is enough reward for veteran Avon High School biology teacher Tess [Theresa] Wearsch. She enjoys seeing the pride and excitement they have in themselves. Now the students are witness to her accomplishments. The National Association of Biology Teachers named her Ohio's Outstanding Biology Teacher of the Year.

"I had been nominated before," Tess said. "After you are nominated, there is an application process that you must go through. I hadn't heard back from the association in a few months, so I figured they chose someone else ..."

Tess does not know who nominated her this year, but her involvement in several science-related teacher organizations has enabled other colleagues outside of Avon High School to observe her talents as well.

The high school science department head is entering 26 years of teaching at Avon. She began her teaching career at Brookside High School after graduating from Kent State University (KSU). Tess also holds a master's degree from KSU in biology.

Science has always been her passion. What sets her apart from other teachers of the same discipline is her ability to incorporate science into the students' future career interests.

"Let say a student wants to go into business," she explained. "We might work on a project such as investigating a local company to see how they handle their products and deal with environmental issues. Or we might meet with a builder to see what benefits being environmental conscious have on the company and its costs. If a student is interested in art, we can go to the park and they can do some renderings of native species while learning about them.

"Science affects everything we do," Tess said. "I want the students to take some responsibility. I also like to make the research projects locally based because they will have more meaning to the students."

Tess has witnessed a lot of changes locally. She too, graduated from Avon High School and enjoys teaching in the district she and her husband, former council president and mayor of Avon, Tom Wearsch, live.

"I feel a part of the community," she said. "The students feel that you are a part of their life and their world. There is a special bond. For so many years I knew everyone. I went to school with a lot of my students' parents. I tell some of the now that I remember when they were born. You feel closer to the students."

"I've seen a lot of growth in Avon," Tess said. "It has been hard to watch because so much of the beauty is gone. I love the trees and the creeks. Next to teaching, my second favorite thing is gardening."

Tess shows no signs of slowing down or retiring any time soon. Her goals in the classroom for the start of the new school year include having more students active in science-related issues in the community.

"Someone once told me that information in the biology sciences doubles in 43 days," Tess said. "That's why it make it so important that we (teachers) stay active in our organizations. I spend a lot of time keeping up with the latest advancements in research. This way I am able to pass it on the students who benefit the most in the long run. They are our future."''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 1-10-04, By TARA YORK ELLIS, Morning Journal Writer

``AVON -- Avon Heritage [North] Elementary School has earned an A+ in architecture. The 71,132-square-foot building, with a 500-student capacity, was chosen by American School and University magazine's 2003 Architectural Portfolio, which celebrates excellence in design.

MKC Associates, Mansfield-based architects, designed the school, and has also garnered praise for Granville Intermediate School, near Columbus. Those two designs were among 206 other school structures around the country recognized in the magazine.

''The form fits the function perfectly,'' Superintendent Jim Reitenbach said of the building, built in 2001 at a cost of $7 million ...

Three classroom wings, an administrative suite and a learning resource center make use of natural light.

The building's exterior was designed in the Western Reserve style, to fit in with other buildings in the community, like the high school and library, according to the architects.

Western Reserve architecture is marked by the pitched roofs, pillars and the strong use of brick found in the elementary school. The most prominent feature of the school is the rotunda, which marks the main entrance ...

The inside of the school is just as important as the outside, said Patricia Irwin of MKC Associates' marketing department.

''The interior layout inspires student engagement through academic spaces anchored by an activity core,'' Irwin said.

Security is also a built-in feature at the school, with the layout forcing visitors to pass the office area, Irwin said.

The district has decided to hire MKC Associates to design the new Heritage South Elementary School, to be built next to the existing elementary school ... ''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 2-4-08, by LeeAnn Mullen and the Chronicle-Telegram Staff

[Students help homeless shelter at St. Joseph's Church]

``AVON -- Members of Avon High School's National Honor Society are trying to make the lives of Lorain County's homeless a little bit easier.

Each month, the students prepare and transport fresh, made-from-scratch meals to St. Joseph's Church on Reid Avenue in Lorain, where the parish runs a homeless shelter from November to April in the church basement.

Avon High teacher Tess Wearsch, the school's National Honor Society administrator, started the program about five years ago as a community service project for her students. Since then, hundreds of students have put together thousands of meals for the shelter's hungry guests.

"We cook on the second weekend of each month at my house," Wearsch said. 'The students come over, and we make everything, except for stuffing, from scratch. The kids peel potatoes and carrots, we make different kinds of meat, and we deliver it to the church for the people who stay in the shelter.'

Wearsch, who buys the meat for the meals, said that students are responsible for bringing one item each to add to the meals.

"The guests get a lot of pasta and casseroles, so we like to make sure they get their meat-and-potato type of dishes from us," Wearsch said. "We make things like cabbage rolls, pork chops, roast chicken, and mashed potatoes and gravy. They really like that stuff.'

The shelter, which has run into many financial hardships and has almost been forced to close its doors on several occasions, provides mattresses with blankets and pillows, hot dinners, showers and early morning breakfasts to hundreds of people each year.

The center is funded solely by community donations and often finds itself falling short.

"There is a lot of cost behind keeping the center open," Wearsch said. "Utility bills, food costs, the cost of mattresses, blankets, toiletries and just overall maintenance takes time and money. This is a very poor parish with a great mission ' to help those less fortunate than themselves. We are so glad to take part in this project each year.'

Many of the students who have graduated and gone off to college still come back to cook for the shelter on their winter and spring breaks ...''

Contact LeeAnn Mullen at metro@chroniclet.com.

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