UW–Madison School of Education to honor Rockwell and Gadd Nemec award winners

The UW–Madison School of Education is recognizing recipients of its 2023 Rockwell Awards and the winner of this year’s Lois Gadd Nemec Elementary Education Award on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Education Building.

The Rockwell Awards honor outstanding teachers and other school professionals who have chosen to pass on their expertise by providing high-quality field experiences for UW–Madison students who are preparing to work in schools. Recipients of these awards, made possible through the generosity of Roland and Ruth Rockwell, receive $1,000 each for their significant contribution to the UW–Madison field experience program.

The 2023 Rockwell Award winners are:

  • Kari Boyer, a third grade teacher at Madison’s Shorewood Elementary School
  • Renae DeBarbieri, a 4-year-old kindergarten teacher at Madison’s Huegel Elementary School
  • Mark Diercks, a physical education teacher at Oregon High School
  • Liza DiPrima, a first grade teacher at Madison’s Huegel Elementary School
  • Sarah Urban, a school psychologist at Madison’s Elvehjem Elementary School
  • Jayme Vang, a kindergarten teacher at Madison’s Midvale Elementary School

“We are so thankful that these outstanding school professionals have taken the time to share their expertise with our UW–Madison students,” says Thomas Owenby, the UW–Madison School of Education’s associate dean for teacher education. “We are very proud of our teacher education and school psychology programs here at the School of Education, and a big part of what makes them so special is the talented professionals like these Rockwell Award winners who have played such a significant role in mentoring our students.”

Mary Klehr is the recipient of the 2023 Lois Gadd Nemec Elementary Education Award. This award is presented to an outstanding graduate of our Elementary Education program who has distinguished themselves by bringing great honor to their profession and UW–Madison.  Klehr was an elementary teacher educator with both the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and UW–Madison’s School of Education.  In this hybrid role, she worked closely with teacher educators in public schools (cooperating teachers and school leadership) and at the university (faculty and graduate students) to prepare cohorts of teacher candidates committed to high quality pedagogical and social justice practices. Klehr also coordinated MMSD’s Classroom Action Research program, supporting PK-12 educators in studying and changing their teaching.  

“Mary Klehr has brought joy, passion, and exceptional skill to the field of teacher education over the past 30-plus years,” says Owenby. “Her work here in Madison has been instrumental in deepening community, school, and university partnerships while guiding the professional growth of untold numbers of pre- and in-service teachers. The impact of Mary’s commitment to democratic educational practices, arts-focused education, and practitioner research will continue to live on in her work and in the lives of those who she has touched.”  

Award winners will be honored during the School of Education’s American Education Week Celebration: Together We Rise, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Nov. 4. This year’s event will feature a breakfast, workshops, a keynote address from one of Minnesota’s Teachers of the Year, and the awards ceremony.

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