Maumee’s 48th Annual Hometown Hero Banquet Honors Teachers, Coaches And Community Leaders

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — The Maumee Chamber of Commerce’s 48th annual Hometown Hero Awards recognized the work of Maumee residents and leaders on March 2.

Kathleen Fischer, president and CEO of Metamora State Bank, the presenting sponsor, said the evening was a great way to recognize the hard work of people who have spent the past few years making a difference in the community.

Mayor Rich Carr and Jenny Barlos were the evening’s speakers and said the event makes them proud to be a part of the Maumee community.

“This is a very special event for our community, and this evening is certainly no exception,” Carr said.

Throughout the evening, attendees were treated to performances by GLOvation Circus along with a meal at The Pinnacle before being introduced to winners in four categories: Golden Apple Award, Bridge Youth Mentor Award, River Business Award, Hometown Hero Award and Outstanding Citizen Award.

“Whenever we start this ceremony, we always want to reflect back on the history of this awards ceremony because you can’t get to 48 years without a lot of history and a lot of people in this community that have been recognized,” Barlos said.

Golden Apple Award

The Golden Apple Award, Carr explained, was started in 2001 and goes to a teacher, counselor or mentor who goes above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of Maumee youth.

It was presented to three Maumee City Schools staff members: Amy Johnson, Michele Loboschefski and Jamie Naragon, who were introduced by Superintendent Steve Lee.

Maumee City Schools staff (from left) Jamie Naragon, Michele Loboschefski and Amy Johnson each received a Golden Apple Award during the Hometown Hero Awards on Thursday, March 2 for their excellence in education and their impact on the lives of students.

 

Amy Johnson

As a counselor, Amy Johnson has had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of students and form connections with each of them.

“She is approachable, kind, compassionate, taking on problems large and small,” Lee said.

According to Lee, the small things Johnson does are what make a difference in the lives of her students and shows the impact she has.

Johnson, who has worked in several different school districts over the years, has said the one thing she has learned is that each student wants and needs unconditional love.

“The relationships that you build are so important and can really make a difference in a student’s life,” Johnson said.

She spoke about students she has known over the years and how she watched them grow and become the best versions of themselves.

According to Johnson, though, so much of what she does could not happen without the support of her staff, her family and friends, and the students she works with.

Michele Loboschefski

As principal at Fairfield Elementary school, Michele Loboschefski has dedicated her time to her students and making sure they receive the attention and care they need.

“If you know Michele, she has a very high standard and she does it in a way that is very well-known out of a love for her students,” Lee said.

Loboschefski said she has followed three guiding principles as a principal: focus on what is best for students, learn everyone’s name and get to know them, and visit classrooms as much as possible.

“I got in this line of work to make a difference in the students’ lives and to make their education the best it can be,” Loboschefski said.

She complimented her staff on helping her with that goal and putting the students first.

According to Loboschef-ski, her family’s support has helped her follow her passion as a principal and make an impact within the community.

Jamie Naragon

As a teacher leader in several clubs and departments, including the drama department, Jamie Naragon has helped influence the lives of many former and current MHS students.

“She has formed relationships and connected with her students through dedication to the performing arts department, yearbook and six other clubs over her 10 years at Maumee High School,” Lee said.

Naragon, who first came to MHS as a sophomore, said clubs and caring teachers made the biggest difference in her time as a high school student, so she wanted to become that for the students of Maumee.

“Many of my teachers reached out, offering a shoulder, empathy and helping to team me up in group projects with people they thought I might befriend. In short, they helped me feel like I was part of a new family,” Naragon recalled.

Naragon thanked the staff and students she works with every day, along with her sister and friends, for helping her along the way.

Bridge Award

According to Mayor Carr, the Bridge Award is presented to someone who has fostered the youth of the community, and the recipient is someone who cultivates compassion and success.

Maumee City Schools junior varsity basketball coach Jim Richardson (second from left) was presented with the Bridge Award for his dedication to fostering relationships and developing compassion and outstanding citizenry among Maumee youths. He is pictured with (from left) sons Jacob and Parker and wife Michelle.

 

Jim Richardson

As a basketball coach, Jim Richardson has had the opportunity to mentor hundreds of youths in Maumee and show them how to be good people.

“He embodies everything that the Bridge Award stands for. He is everything good about the Maumee community and absolutely someone that you want your child to have the opportunity to play for as a mentor and a role model,” said nominator Jenna Kain.

According to Kain, what makes Richardson a great leader are his words and actions, which encourage and help his players.

Richardson said he commits to three goals every day. He must have something to look up to, something to look forward to and something to keep chasing.

“I look forward to impacting one person each day,” Richardson said.

Many of the people he impacts each day are the players on his team, and he has been able to help them by having coaches of his own who encouraged him throughout his life.

Richardson credited those coaches and the ones he works alongside now, as well as his family, for helping him get to where he is.

“This is one of the greatest communities people might not know about, and it’s because we have other people out in the community who are doing the same thing I’m doing,” Richard-son said. “We’re setting the tone for the future.”

River Award

The River Award is presented to a business or organization that is making a tangible, measurable difference within the community, Barlos said.

Pictured are Maumee Senior Center staff members, including (from left) transportation driver Sue LaFountaine, transportation driver Dennis Oberhauser, executive director Malinda Ruble and program coordinator Tiffany Peet. Not pictured are dietary manager Wilma Rice, outreach coordinator Laree Shroyer and several volunteers. The center was selected as the River Business Award winner, which is presented to a business or organization that is making a tangible impact within the community.

 

The Ardis Dardenne — Maumee Senior Center

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ardis Dardenne Maumee Senior Center had to pivot in how business was handled and how it helped area seniors, and the changes it made were worthy of recognition, according to Heather Cole, who is on the board of directors.

“The Maumee Senior Center is a special gem in our community, serving a great purpose to so many,” Cole said.

She said she nominated the center after it switched to delivering hot meals five days a week to seniors along with much-needed supplies.

Making sure each senior has the resources they need, whether it’s a wheelchair, lunch, activity or socialization, is the whole purpose of the center, said executive director Malinda Ruble.

“Without such a hardworking and compassionate staff, we would not be able to do all that we do for the seniors,” Ruble said. “Not only do these people work hard to provide medical transportation, meals, activities and other services on a daily basis, they continue to step up for the community.”

Ruble said the staff has adjusted to fill the additional roles when needed. The center’s volunteers are also vital to the operations as they fill in the gaps and are found helping in all areas at the center.

According to Ruble, the center has also seen an increased number of seniors since reopening after the shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic. All of the seniors who have walked through the door have made a difference in the center, too, Ruble said.

Additionally, she credited local businesses and individuals for helping the center do more for seniors.

“It truly does take a community, and we are so thankful for all of those who support the Maumee Senior Center,” Ruble concluded.

Hometown Hero Award

The Hometown Hero Award was presented to four individuals for their efforts on the Towpath Revitalization Project.

According to Carr, a Hometown Hero Award recipient is someone who has gone above and beyond for the residents of Maumee.

The Maumee Hometown Hero Award was presented to these four gentlemen in recognition of their significant volunteer efforts in restoring Towpath Park along the Maumee River between Conant Street and White Street. Pictured with Maumee city administrator Patrick Burtch (second from left), are award recipients (from left) Gabe Barrow, Burtch, Jeff Farthing, Jon Fiscus and Mark Irmen.

 

Gabe Barrow, Jon Fiscus, Jeff Farthing and Mark Irmen

Maumee’s city administrator Patrick Burtch introduced the four individuals, who he said were important to making such an important change in the Maumee community.

There were dozens of other volunteers who worked on the towpath, Burtch said, who were able to help with cleanup, too.

Jon Fiscus credited Burtch, Carr, city council, the city service crew and Maumee residents along with his family for sacrificing their time and energy on the project.

“I’d like to thank all of the volunteers that contributed to all of this,” Farthing added. 

Without volunteers, the honorees agreed, the project would not have been completed.

Mark Irmen described the overwhelming feeling he had after being honored and recognized alongside the three other individuals.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to be recognized, but also to have made this towpath more accessible for more people,” Irmen said. “It’s quite a jewel for Maumee.”

Gabe Barrow recalled the early encouragement the group received from passersby when they were working on the project and said a lot of thought was put in to the revitalization to be sure every individual who wants to can enjoy the path.

Outstanding Citizen 

The Outstanding Citizen Award is presented to an individual who has displayed dedication and contribution the community, Barlos said.

The highest honor of the night, the Maumee Outstanding Citizen Award, went to Dr. Todd Cramer. The Outstanding Citizen is someone who has made Maumee a better place through their time and talent. Dr. Cramer received the award for his efforts within the community during his time as superintendent of Maumee City Schools. He is pictured with his wife, Beth.

 

Dr. Todd Cramer

Having served as the superintendent for MCS from 2016 until 2022, Dr. Todd Cramer was introduced by board of education president Mike Wiley, who lauded Cramer’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He always made decisions that were best for kids, and when you make decisions that are best for kids, it has a ripple effect throughout the community,” Wiley said.

He quoted author Nelson Henderson, who said: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

Wiley explained that Cramer planted a lot of trees throughout the community, the shade of which he would not enjoy, but others in the community will.

“I certainly don’t deserve to be recognized any more than our staff, our board of education, our parents and our students,” Cramer said. “Make no mistake, my success was only possible due to the contributions of the entire community.”

According to Cramer, the board of education demonstrated its commitment to providing the best possible education for the students and the administrative team extended grace and understanding to everyone within the district.

“I was very grateful for the support and commitment they demonstrated to our school district,” Cramer said. “Our entire team, the teaching staff across the district, our operational staff, were no different.”

With his team’s support, Cramer said, he was able to give his best to the district and achieve the goals he had set forth.

Cramer credited his successor, Steve Lee, for making him feel confident that he was leaving the district in good hands, and his predecessor, Greg Smith, for showing him how to be a good leader.

Cramer said his family allowed him to serve the district and dedicate the time that he did to lead others.

He said he is ready to serve within the community in organizations, like the Maumee Rotary Club, to continue making a difference.

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