Jean Russell, a Haverhill Elementary School teacher, received the Sagamore of the Wabash on Wednesday from Gov. Mike Pence.Russell, who was recently named the 2016 Indiana Teacher of the Year, said she was thrilled to receive the award. Joking with the governor afterward she asked if she could have two copies, one to hang at work and one to hang at home. The award is the highest honor the governor of Indiana can bestow upon a civilian.
Noting Russell's more than 25 years of experience and numerous awards and recognition, Pence said Russell has dedicated her career to her kids. The governor shared one of his favorite children’s books, "Library Mouse," in a reading for the students. He encouraged children to write their own stories and shared with them that his own daughter, who is now in college, has just written a book.
Afterward, Pence told news reporters he was pleased that Indiana had ranked so high in the National Report Card that was released Wednesday. However, when it was noted the other states tested on the Core 40 – the high school curriculum required for graduation – and Indiana doesn't, Pence side-stepped the question, repeating how happy he was with the results.Pence had sent a letter to the State Board of Education to ask it not to use this year's ISTEP results to base teachers raises on as it was a transitional year for the test and scores are expected to be significantly lower with the change. Pence reaffirmed that he will be asking for legislative action this year to make sure teachers' salaries do not suffer because of the 2015 ISTEP score drops.
Jean Russell received her award in video attached to this story at news-sentinel.com.