Bio: Stanley, Randi - Wins Crystal Apple Award (2021)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Stanley, Ruskin

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 3/30/2021

Teacher Wins Crystal Apple Award (Stanley - 2021)

Neillsville Teacher, Randi Stanley Wins Crystal Apple Award

Neillsville High School science teacher Randi Stanley has received a Crystal Apple Award from the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, honoring excellence in teaching. Submitted photo

By Valorie Brecht

“Teachers who love teaching, teach students to love learning,” so the saying goes.

Bu all accounts, Neillsville science teacher Randi Stanley would fit description.

“It’s the worst kept secret in Neillsville; Mrs. Stanley is simply a phenomenal teacher. She loves her work, and she loves her students. Those are facts about her that are undeniable,” said Neillsville High School principal Craig Anderson Ruskin.

Stanley was recently recognized for her work in the classroom by being named a Crystal Apple Award winner by the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MACCI). Through the program, students have the opportunity to nominate an outstanding teacher. Students in 10 central Wisconsin school districts made 1,313 nominations. From those nominations, the schools selected 345 teachers to be considered for a Crystal Apple Award. From the 345, MACCI named 25 Teachers of Distinction. The 25 teachers were interviewed, and four Crystal Apple winners were selected.

Stanley will be honored at a banquet later this spring and will receive $1,000. This is the first year the Neillsville School District participated in the Crystal Apple program, so Stanley has the honor of being the first Neillsville teacher to receive such an award.

MACCI members surprised Stanley in her classroom to present her with the award.

“I was shocked and humbled by the experience. It feels like I’m being honored for what I do every day,” said Stanley.

Stanley has more than 25 years of experience in education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Winona State University and her master’s degree in education from UW-La Crosse. She began her teaching career in 1995 and taught middle school science for a year in Hastings, MN. She then taught high school science in Rice Lake for a year. In 1997, she started at Neillsville High School and has been there ever since.

She said the decision to become a teacher wasn’t necessarily a hard one.

“I loved science and had a real desire to be in high school science. It came easy to me and I enjoyed learning about the world and how things work. There was a time period I considered going to med school, but I came back to teaching. Teaching has always been my passion. I enjoy explaining different things in a way the students can understand and helping them understand the complexities in our world.”

Stanley spends a good chunk of her day teaching biology, which is a required sophomore course. She has four sections of that class currently. She also teaches anatomy and physiology, ecology and advanced science. When she first came to Neillsville, she also taught earth science.

“Mrs. Stanley is incredibly knowledgeable in her field. Anybody that knows her, either having been in her classroom as a student or as a colleague on staff, knows that she is an incredibly intelligent person,” wrote Andreson Ruskin. “I have had many conversations with Mrs. Stanley over my 10 years working with her to develop a deep respect for her passion to being a true student of science.”

“She loves what she does, and it is obvious to everybody else as well and that energy drives others that are around her. Mrs. Stanley knows the importance of being a life long learner. She is always looking for ways to improve, to learn and to grow for her students.”

Stanley’s desire is to help students be successful, wherever they’re at in their education journey. For example, she helped develop the advanced science class, which is for seniors to help them perform better in college science courses. The class includes prep work in college chemistry, as Stanley says that’s a course that students going into the sciences often struggle with in college.

She also makes an effort to offer a variety of activities in her classes. Her ecology class collects water samples from local creeks and test them, for example. For a dissection lab, her anatomy and physiology conducts an “autopsy” of a dill pickle and based on its injuries has to figure out what happened.

“I find that students need more activity in the classroom today than they did early on in my career,” said Stanley. “There’s so much available to them today with technology and stimulation that it can be harder to keep their attention span. So, I change things up pretty frequently.”

Stanley said it’s hard for her to fully define her teaching philosophy, but the emphasis is on the individual student.

“Teaching is just who I am. It’s hard to separate me from the idea of teaching. But my goal is to help every kid learn in whatever way they can every single day. And sometimes it’s not about science; it’s learning about how to deal with a situation in life.

“I try to make kids feel smart. But they need to be taught well and assessed well to se that they’re smart. Every kid needs to feel successful and know their own potential.”

Anderson Ruskin said that Stanley’s care for each of her students clearly shows.

“Mrs. Stanley has outstanding relationships with her students. Students know how hard she works and prepares for each day she sees them, and they really respect her for that. In fact, long after they leave our building as graduates, I know that our former students are grateful for having had Mrs. Stanley as a teacher and a mentor.”

Stanley extended her appreciation to the rest of the staff at Neillsville High School for all their hard work and their willingness to collaborate to give students the best education possible.

“I work with a phenomenal group of people. We work together for the students. I don’t feel that I deserve this award more than others; there are many other teachers that deserve this as well,” she said.

The recognition banquet for Stanley, the other Crystal Apple awardees and the Teachers of Distinction will be May 5 at Hotel Marshfield. A few other Neillsville staff members will join Stanley and help in honoring her.

“Mrs. Stanley is a very humble and down-to-earth person that sees a recognition like this as something she may not quite be worthy of. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mrs. Stanley is exactly what the Crystal Apple Award is about-educational excellence. Mrs. Stanley is a special person and anybody that’s been around her is a better person as a result. Our school district family is very proud of her and she is most deserving of this honor,” wrote Anderson Ruskin.

This is not Stanley’s first accolade for teaching. She was named the Wisconsin and Northern Michigan Youth Alive Terrific Teacher of the year in May of 2018. She was also the Neillsville School District Teacher of the Year for the 2000-2001 school year.

Outside of her job, Stanley enjoys fishing, camping and hiking. Her family runs a strawberry farm. Stanley has a son who is 20 and attends UW-Madison and a 16-year-old daughter who’s a sophomore in high school.



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