Four exceptional Lakeville Area Schools community members have been selected to receive a 2019 Friends of Education award, which were presented May 28 at the Board of Education meeting at Lakeville City Hall.

Each year, the district presents the awards to honor outstanding individual contributions to the district. The awards recognize people whose service has been ongoing in one of four categories: distinguished service, education, business/community partnership, and volunteer service.

This year’s winners are:

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Joan Schlichting, occupational therapist, will be honored for her distinguished service. Schlichting has worked in the district for 30 years. She was cited for having creativity, artistic gifts, knowledge of content, research, and dedication that meets the exceptional needs of her students. She has supported inclusive models of education and advocates for students by offering strategies to make that happen. She has also volunteered with the adaptive ski team, adaptive crafts through Lakeville Parks and Recreation, Family Connections, and Garden Club.

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Heather McKinley, Oak Hills Elementary teacher, will be honored for her contributions to education. McKinley was cited for having a passion for teaching that shines bright as her curriculum comes alive for students. She turned her passion for science into two STEM Family Nights that included presentations by the Science Museum of Minnesota. McKinley also coordinates after-school homework clubs for students, teaches algebra and dissection camps in the summer, and encourages students when they have a curiosity that stretches beyond the classroom.

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Thane Hathaway, president and CEO of Lakeville business, EAC Product Development Solutions, will be honored for his outstanding business partnership with Lakeville Area Schools. Hathaway has been instrumental in the creation and implementation of the STEM Academy and robotics teams at Lakeville South High School. He donates time to the programs as well as a percentage of his company’s profits to support equipment and supplies. Hathaway encourages his employees to be mentors to students looking for real-world engineering experience.

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Nancy Whipple, a Lakeville Area parent, will be honored for her volunteer service. For four years, Whipple has volunteered in starting the Lakeville South Band Booster organization. She’s helped keep track of finances for things like band trips, secured donations from area businesses to improve the band program, and has set up the booster program in a way that it can easily be handed off to the next group of parent leaders. She was cited for leaving the band program better than she found it.

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