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‘Difference Maker’Awards given by Ohio Valley ESC

Photo provided From left, Mr. Phil Ackerman, Ohio Valley ESC; Mrs. Carol Austin, 2020 Recipient of the Difference Maker Award; Mr. Andrew Brooks, Superintendent Ohio Valley ESC

The Ohio Valley Educational Service Center (ESC) held its 17th Annual Leadership Day on October 30, 2020 for their 8 districts/leadership teams this year. This year the Ohio Valley ESC partnered with the College of Education and Human Ecology at the Ohio State University to provide exceptional training for their leaders.

For the last nine years, the Ohio Valley ESC has chosen exemplary individuals, within the ESC, who have gone above and beyond in support of educational opportunities for students. This year was no different. The Ohio Valley ESC presented Carol Austin, former OVESC Superintendent and educator, and Robert Fialkowski, retired educator, with the Difference Maker Awards.

Mrs. Carol Austin graduated from Triadelphia High School in 1954. After high school, Mrs. Austin received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from West Virginia University and then received her Masters of Education in Reading and Language Arts from the University of Pittsburgh, PA. Mrs. Austin was employed with the Ohio Valley ESC as the ESC Superintendent from 1990-2009. Mrs. Austin has received many educational awards.

She received the Exemplary Educational Leadership Award from Buckeye Association of School Administrators in October, 2020. Mrs. Austin also received the Exemplary Leadership Award in August,1999. Coalition of Rural and Appalachian Schools and Ohio University awarded Mrs. Austin with a Service Award for commitment to Rural and Appalachian Schools in June, 2001. In June, 2002, Mrs. Austin received the Administrator of the Year award for the state of Ohio from Education Office Professionals of Ohio.

Mrs. Austin has received many personal accomplishments and awards. She was awarded the Benedum Scholarship from West Liberty State College in 1954. In 1965, Mrs. Austin was given the Special Citizen Award of the Year from the Wheeling Jaycees’. In 1966, Mrs. Austin was awarded the Outstanding Young Woman of America. The Rotary Club of Cambridge awarded Mrs. Austin with Distinguished Service Award in 1989-90, Presidential Citation in 2000-01, and Community Service award in 2001-02. Mrs. Austin received the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Special Service Award in 1990. Ohio Valley ESC, Cambridge Office, was dedicated to Mrs. Austin in 2008. Also, the Cambridge Learning Center and Preschool was named “Austin Child Development Center”, after Mrs. Austin, in 2008.

Mr. Robert Fialkowski graduated from St. John Central High School in Bellaire, Ohio in 1965. Mr. Fialkowski furthered his education and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Bethany College. While attending Bethany College, Mr. Fialkowski was a four year starter on the college’s baseball team. Mr. Fialkowski also received a Masters Degree from West Virginia University in Secondary Education and another Masters Degree from Dayton University in Education Administration. Mr. Fialkowski began his teaching career at St. John Central High School where he was a teacher and a coach. In 1972, Mr. Fialkowski received the Teacher of the Year Award. Mr. Fialkowski then was an Elementary School Principal at Union Local School District. From there, he became Junior High Principal in the Bellaire City School District. While employed at Belaire City Schools, Mr. Fialkowski implemented the Occupation Work Adjustment Program, which was one of the first programs of its kind at the junior high level in Belmont County. Mr. Fialkowski also implemented a Shadowing Program where students could visit on-site business locations as a possible career choice. During Mr. Fialkowski’s years at Bellaire City Schools, Melanie Kidder, an 8th grade student, placed third at the National Spelling Bee and his students won the Christmas Can and Food Drive competition for Belmont county for nine consecutive years. From 2002-2020, Mr. Fialkowski was employed by Ohio Valley ESC as a teacher. For five years, he taught at the Alternative School in Cambridge and then for the last fourteen years, Mr. Fialkowski taught at the Oakview Juvenile Residential Center in St. Clairsville, Ohio.

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