Educator of Excellence 2022


Opening Remarks

Dale Veverka ’70

IHS Alumni Association President

City of Independence

Vice Mayor David Grendel ’73

Independence Local Schools

Ben Hegedish

Superintendent Independence Local Schools


Danielle Renton

Danielle started teaching in Independence in 1991 as a traveling Chapter One tutor at Independence Primary School and Independence Middle School. In 1993 she was hired at the Middle School as a 5th grade teacher and has continued in that role for the last 28 years, teaching mainly science and ELA. She has been actively involved over the years on many committees to benefit the school, staff, and the district. She has been recognized as a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar and was the recipient of the Ohio Middle School Association Regional Award in 2019.

“It is a rewarding and unique experience to be a stitch in the fabric of Independence families as students from the beginning of my career have grown into adults, some of whom have turned out to be dear friends. I have even had the opportunity to teach some of their children. The best experience of all though, has been having a team of fellow educators at IMS who have supported me professionally and personally, and become lifelong friends.”

Joan Mencl

Joan has resided in Independence since she was four years old. Coincidentally her family resided in a house across the street from the Primary School for 54 years!

After graduating from Independence High School, she attended Kent State University, earning a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Elementary Education K-8, with Special Education K-12 certification. Her first job was teaching preschool at what is now the Independence Co-Op and then teaching first grade and kindergarten respectively at Independence Primary School. During her teaching tenure, she was elected IEA union president, served as the secretary of the Emerald Credit Union, and developed and coached numerous extra-curriculars, such as student council, career day, Santa Shop, and the City’s outreach summer playground program.

After 35 years Joan retired from teaching. She continued serving the community as an elected member of the Independence Local Schools Board of Education. Currently, she is fulfilling her second term as a Board Member, having recently been elected President.

“In everything that I have accomplished, I have been driven by a single overriding criterion: What is the best practice for educating and nurturing the children of Independence?”

Audience Participation


Ben Hegedish

Superintendent Independence Local Schools

Educator of Excellence

Many thanks to the following team members who made this event possible: Dale Veverka ’70, Bob Wager ’66, Don Krolikowski ’77, Joan Mencl ’70, Amber Veverka ’07

Previous Recipients

Geraldine Kaftan (2014) Jeffrey Enckler (2014)
Fred Schuld (2015) Kendal Gunlicks (2016)
Joe O’Brien (2017) Scott Maretka (2018)
Mark Echstenkamper (2019) William McGuinness (2020)
All staff (2021)

The IHS Alumni Association

IHS Alumni Association was founded in 2007 to “Advance Memories One Class at a time”. Current active members represent graduates from the Class of 1942 to 2021. The group annually recognizes legacy graduates, presents cash awards to graduates and purchases a school gift. The Association is the caretaker of the Joe Labella Scholarship Fund. It provides assistance to classes planning reunions and bi-annually publishes the Alumni Spectator newsletter.

Donations to the Alumni Association can be made via the website:

IHS Alumni Association

To Join the Alumni Association please visit our website:

Join The Alumni Association

Executive Board

Dale Veverka ’70, President
Chris Zamborsky ’78, Vice President
Bob Wagner ’66, Treasurer
Victoria (Wiecek) Rich ’70, Corresponding Sec.
Alumni Integral Chairpersons
Vickie (Weicek) Rich ’70, Hospitality
Peggy Korecko ’88, Facebook
Don Krolikowski ’77, Website
James Hogue (IHS Principal), Honorary V.P.
Gwen Schmidt-Manfredi ’68, Pub-Relations
Amber Veverka ’07, Newsletter Editor

Independence High School graduates are eligible to become a full member of our Association. Independence Local Schools Faculty members may become associate members. Contact any officer, or visit, to join.