Teachers and staff are at the foundation of our students' exceptional progressive education at Maumee Valley Country Day School.
And our phenomenal teachers and staff did an outstanding job this school year when faced with seemingly unending adjustments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, June 4, we honored award winners, thanked our staff, and said goodbye to some of our colleagues who will not be joining us next school year.
The Larry Anning Award for Staff Excellence is presented annually to a staff member who has worked at Maumee Valley Country Day School for at least five years, personifies the highest ideals of personal integrity, professionalism, and excellence, and is not eligible for the Maumee Valley Alumni Association Smead Centennial Award for Faculty Excellence. The recipients embody the mission and vision of the School and treat all members of the community with courtesy, kindness, and respect. The 2021 winner is Phil Paskvan.
Here is what those who nominated Phil had to say:
"We navigated COVID better than most schools because of Phil. Full Stop. If this is an award for service this year, no one has done more to help the school than Phil."
"I would like to nominate Phil Paskvan for this award as Phil has always gone above and beyond for our school. This year was a prime example as he helped design and build over 200 desks to help our school re-open safely. This was on top of all of the tech modifications he had to make for each classroom, helping teach our faculty and staff to work remotely, and many more things that gave us the opportunity to bring students back to campus. I believe he embodies the same care and effort that his award stands for."
"He makes our daily teaching easier. He always prioritizes our needs over his own."
The Alumni Centennial Award for Faculty Excellence is presented annually to a faculty member who has worked at Maumee Valley Country Day School for at least five years, embodies and demonstrates the ideals of the teaching profession and the Maumee Valley community, is outstanding in the classroom, is a constructive faculty leader, and contributes in ways outside of the classroom. The 2021 winner is Pam Hulbert.
Some of the nominations for Pam from staff and families include:
Pam deserves this award "Because she embodies what it means to teach the "whole child." From math to mindfulness, Pam sets out to prepare her students for success and works tirelessly every day. Above and beyond the classroom, she also teaches mindfulness to her fellow co-workers."
"Pam embodies what a parent hopes for in a teacher. She is the best of the best and will be dearly missed by so many students next year. Her work in teaching mindfulness to students is incredible."
"Pam is deserving of this award because she embodies the highest ideals of being a teacher and a leader in the MV community. Pam is retiring this year and her teaching legacy will certainly live on in her students. I have heard her past students who are now in LI and UI reminisce about starting their morning with mindfulness in Mrs. Hulbert's classroom and how these experiences continue to help them today. Pam has contributed her experiences in mindfulness outside of the classroom by leading our teachers in the mindfulness PLC."
At the conclusion of the school year, Maumee Valley said goodby to 78 years for service with the retirement of Maintenance staffer David Villarreal, Primary School Teacher Pam Hulbert and Upper School humanities teacher Tom Cambisios.
Maintenance worker David Villarreal said goodbye to Maumee Valley after 35 years in various roles. He started in the kitchen where he did parties and washed dishes in 1986 and then steadily worked his way up.
Throughout the years, Villarreal's story at Maumee Valley is one of flexibility and stepping up whenever there was a need. Through the decades, Villarreal has been a part of many changes, including the construction of the new Upper School and Millennium Theatre, the reconfiguring of school entrances, moving the maintenance garage, and much more.
"We've been involved in all of the projects, big or small," Villarreal said. "I see the school as so many changes. It's a privilege to see all of this. Where the school was, where it is now and where it is going in the future. Maumee Valley is always moving forward."
Head of School Lynn Casto knows all too well the impact Villarreal has had at Maumee Valley. When Casto was hired in 2018, she encountered him on campus.
"Dave was the first person I met when I arrived at Maumee Valley. He was mowing the grass by the amphitheater as I approached the Boehm Building. He stopped the riding mower, got off, said good morning, and asked if he could be of any assistance. This brief encounter shows the kindness of Dave Villarreal that he exhibits every day he is on campus," Casto said. "Dave has been an invaluable member of the Buildings & Ground staff since 1986 and has worked behind the scenes to make sure that our teachers and students have all that they need for the learning process. From playground upkeep and supervision to checking pipes on bitter winter nights, Dave makes sure Maumee Valley is running smoothly. I am forever grateful that he chose to spend the majority of his professional life with Maumee Valley."
The COVID-19 pandemic was especially tough for Villarreal, who admitted that maintaining the grounds and facilities while teachers, staff, and students worked remotely was difficult.
"When we were shut down, there were no people around—that's what I was missing. It was just an empty building," Villarreal said, tears collecting in the corners of his eyes. "It's the kids that make the building. That's what I will miss being a part of the school. That's what keeps you here. I wouldn't stay for 35 years if it weren't good. It wasn't easy. But it was fun."
After spending time teaching in California and as an actress, first-grade teacher Pam Hulbert decided to retire after 15 years in the classroom at Maumee Valley.
She also is a certified mindfulness instructor and said she plans to continue that work in some capacity.
"Pam exudes joy — joy in learning, joy in her students, joy in life. Pam has shepherded countless students into the Lower School as a Primary teacher. They arrived to her classroom nervous but left confident and calm. Pam brought mindfulness to Maumee Valley, and she leaves this legacy behind," said Head of School Lynn Casto. "One of the last to leave the building each evening, she poured her heart and soul into her students. A thespian herself, Pam brought excitement and energy to her students each day. Pam's tender smile and positivity will be missed in the Lower School. I wish her all the best in her next chapter."
Hulbert's husband also is retiring this summer. She said they plan to eventually move up to Williamsburg, Mich. near Traverse City and build a home.
"I'm going to miss my colleagues and the kids for sure. It's been a lovely ride, and my job is never, ever boring," Hulbert said. "I've met so many lovely families. I've enjoyed watching all of my students grow. It's a lot of work, but it's been deeply satisfying."
Longtime English and history teacher and former Head of the Upper School Tom Cambisios completed his final assignment at Maumee Valley Country Day School when he was the keynote speaker at the 2021 graduation on June 3.
Cambisios served Maumee Valley for 28 years in two different stints — from 1990-94 and then from 1997 until today.
Head of School Lynn Casto said she knew of the "Legend of Cambisios" before she began at Maumee Valley Country Day School. The stories all share a common theme — Cambisios was an incredibly challenging teacher who had a tremendous impact on his students.
"I often hear, 'it was Mr. Cambisios who taught me to write,'" Casto said. "An exceptional educator, not only does Tom know his stuff — he is truly a master of many disciplines — he also knows kids. Whether it is a word of encouragement or a metaphorical kick in the pants, Tom knows how to motivate students. I will remember Tom's thoughtful, handwritten notes, his sense of humor, his impeccable organization, and his love for all things Maumee Valley. A 28 year veteran of Maumee Valley, Tom will truly be missed."
Originally from Long Island, Cambisios said he plans to move to Virginia in retirement and work in his yard. He plans to travel and visit family in the Richmond area.
"I'm 64," says Cambisios — I don't know if COVID had a big role in the decision, but a role. Things have changed in the last year and a half outside of the school's control," Cambisios said. "I want to enjoy retirement. It's sad when you see colleagues not be able to enjoy their retirement. I just want to have a few decades of doing other things. It's still a remarkable place to teach. We have some really sharp and engaged students. Obviously, you miss the remarkable people — it's the students and teachers that keep you coming back year after year."