Oconto teacher Tania Wusterbarth recognized as influential educator

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She previously taught at Oconto Falls

Tania Wusterbarth holds the certificate and letter from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville proclaiming her a winner of the School of Education’s Influential Educator Award. (Contributed photo)

A special education teacher at Oconto High School is being honored by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Tania Wusterbarth, a special education teacher at Oconto High School, has been selected to receive an Influential Educator Award through UW-Platteville’s School of Education.

Teachers are nominated by one or more collegiate-level students who feel a particular educator has been an influence upon them and who is largely responsible for their decision to pursue a career in education. Criteria considered for he award includes an individual’s dedication to teaching, enthusiasm for his/her career, and one’s caring, respectful relationships with his/or students.

“Mrs. Wusterbarth’s passion for education shows in everything she does,” said Marissa Diaz, a 2016 graduate of Oconto High School. “She sincerely cares about her students and any student that comes her way — and they genuinely care for her! Mrs. Wusterbarth has inspired me to be a teacher because she has shown me the love and hard work that goes into special education.”

Diaz said she realized education was the right career path after first observing, then later getting directly involved in, the realm of special education through peer tutoring opportunities in Wusterbarth’s classroom.

“Mrs. Wusterbarth has helped prepare me for anything that comes my way,” she said. “I can’t wait to continue learning from her!”

Wusterbarth joined Oconto Unified School District in 2015, teaching special needs students in grades 9-12. Previously, she taught at Washington Middle School in the Oconto Falls School District.

The awards announcement quoted a parent of one of her former Oconto Falls students regarding the deep impact she had on her son.

“Without Mrs. Wusterbarth, my son would not have gotten through school. When others couldn’t figure out how to help him, she was somehow always able to reach him,” the parent said. “Mrs. Wusterbarth never gave up on my son! She is the reason he ‘made it’ and we will always be grateful for all she has done for our son and our family!”

Oconto High School colleague Kristine Hull said she’s not surprised that Wusterbarth was singled out for the award.

“She works with some of the most challenging students and tackles any issues with firmness and finesse,” Hull said. “I have worked with many Special Education teachers in the past 35 years, and she stands out of one of the best!”

It seems the only one surprised was Wusterbarth.

“I had no idea I had been nominated, nor did I expect anything like this,” she said. “However, it’s probably what I value most about my job. Not only do I get the chance to make a difference in my students’ lives during the short time I have with them during their high school years, but I also have the opportunity to continue supporting, encouraging, and ‘teaching’ them long after they graduate. I love our students and take great pride and joy in seeing them succeed – academically and in life!”