Independence teachers presented with ‘Educator of Excellence’ awards

by Laura Bednar

The Independence Schools Alumni Association conferred its annual “Educator of Excellence” awards to retired Independence Primary School teacher Joan Mencl and current Independence Middle School teacher Danielle Renton.

Mencl retired from teaching after 35 years and continued to serve as a member of the Independence Board of Education, where she is president. She started her teaching career at what is now the Independence Co-Op preschool and transitioned to teach kindergarten and first-grade students at IPS.

“I love teaching and have been so lucky and blessed to do what I love all these years,” Mencl said.

Mencl and Renton were honored during the alumni association luncheon on March 14. At the luncheon, Independence Mayor Greg Kurtz said he has known Mencl for years. “Every time I went to IPS, Joan always made herself available to say hello,” he said. “She is someone you can trust, talk to and depend on.”

Renton started her career with Independence Local Schools in 1991 as a traveling tutor. She was hired in 1993 as a full-time fifth-grade teacher at IMS, where she teaches English Language Arts and science. She is a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar and received the Ohio Middle School Association Regional Award in 2019.

Said Renton, “It’s a rewarding experience I’ve had – to be around professionals and students that have grown to be my lifelong friends.”

Middle school Principal Jamie Vanek said Renton is a teacher who changes the people who change the world. “You’re in every child’s corner,” he said.

Superintendent Ben Hegedish said he has worked closely with Mencl and Renton.

“I love that they are strong-willed women who respect and challenge you,” Hegedish said. “They are constant professionals for the community.” ∞