The Leonard ECA Foundation
The William B. and Helen S. Leonard Foundation for the Endowment of Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA)


 
The
Ezekiel Award
for
Excellence
in
Christian Witness
and
Teaching
 
Objective:
Encourage and retain excellent teachers of effective Christian witness to continue teaching and witnessing in Christian primary and secondary schools.
Criteria:
* Full-time teacher at ECA or ECA graduate teaching full-time at a primary or secondary Christian school,
* Demonstrated effective Christian witness of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness (1 Tim 6:11) and encourage those qualities in others (students, staff & teachers),
* Excellence in teaching as confirmed by peer and student reviews and assisting students to successfully apply their understanding of the subject matter,
* Financial need (consideration, but not required) as indicated by student loans or need to work 2nd or 3rd job to support family or himself or herself,
* By accepting the stipend, the teacher agrees to teach in a Christian school for the next year.
 
Ezekiel Peter Wetlesen, a 2006 graduate of ECA, had the life goals of pursuing a teaching degree in mathematics and then returning to ECA to teach. Due to a brain tumor, Ezekiel was not able to pursue those goals. Therefore, he decided to establish an endowment to encourage and retain excellent teachers of effective Christian witness to teach in Christian schools. Ezekiel's desire is that proceeds from the endowment provide stipends to award winners to augment their salary for the next year of teaching in a Christian school. This would encourage those teachers and enable them to continue teaching in Christian schools due to reduced financial concerns.
 
Download the Ezekiel Award brochure here (5MB), or request a printed copy using the Contact page.
 
Applications:
Students, teachers, parents, school administrators and ECA graduates can nominate candidates until February 14th, 2013.
Download an application form in PDF format. 
Recipients:
  • 2008 - Anne Lichlyter
    "The recipient of The Ezekiel Award for excellence in Christian witness and teaching for 2008 is Miss Anne Lichlyter, a fifth grade teacher at the Evangelical Christian Academy Elementary Campus. Miss Lichlyter is a 1996 graduate of ECA and a 2000 Graduate of Covenant College. She has been teaching at ECA since the 2000-2001 school year."
  • 2009 - Emily Wilson
    "One of the 2009 recipients of The Ezekiel Award for excellence in Christian witness and teaching is Mrs. Emily Wilson, a teacher at the Evangelical Christian Academy Secondary Campus. Mrs. Wilson is a graduate of Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina. After graduation, she taught English for two years at a Christian school in Tampa, Florida. For the past three years, she has been teaching a variety of subjects at Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA), including World Literature, Church History, Logic, and Yearbook. She has also led groups of ECA students on educational tours to Europe and Central America. "
  • 2009 - Dale Hart
    "One of the 2009 recipients of The Ezekiel Award for excellence in Christian witness and teaching is Mr. Dale Hart, a teacher at the Evangelical Christian Academy Elementary Campus. Mr. Hart has been teaching at Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA) for the past 20 years. He has taught 1 year of third grade, 1 year of sixth grade, and 18 years of second grade. Prior to teaching at ECA Mr. Hart taught 5 years at Woodland Christian School in Woodland Park. Mr. Hart received a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in Educational Technology and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Michigan State University in Elementary Education."
  • 2010 - Justin Kohl
    "The recipient of The Ezekiel Award for excellence in Christian witness and teaching for 2010 is Mr. Justin Kohl. Mr. Kohl, a Colorado Springs native, has worked the past six years primarily as a business consultant with the U.S. Army. He coached boys' basketball for twelve years at Air Academy High School is currently the Boys' C Team Coach at ECA. In addition to serving as Dean of Students, Mr. Kohl teaches Genesis-Joshua 7 and Judges-Poets 8, the Junior High Bible classes. 'After many years of asking and waiting on Him, I am very thankful for the opportunity that God has granted me at ECA - to invest in the lives of our students and their families.'"
  • 2011 - Sarah Goldschmid
    "One of the 2011 recipients of The Ezekiel Award for excellence in Christian witness and teaching is Mrs. Sarah Goldschmid. Mrs. Goldschmid began working at ECA in 2001 as a kindergarten aide, and has been teaching 6th grade since 2002. She considers it a privilege to teach at ECA. Mrs. Goldschmid desires the classroom to be one of academic excellence as well as a place for students to grow in their relationship with God."
  • 2011 - Matt Holst
    "One of the 2011 recipients of The Ezekiel Award for excellence in Christian witness and teaching is Mr. Matt Holst. Mr. Holst teaches Bible classes at ECA and serves as Director of Spiritual Life. 'My goal for all of my students is that they will leave ECA with a true understanding of what it means to be saved by grace apart from works and will in turn live a life of gratitude for what God has done for them.'"
  • 2012 - Tricia Harbach
    "The recipient of The Ezekiel Award for excellence in Christian witness and teaching for 2012 is Mrs. Tricia Harbach, who is currently the fourth grade teacher at the Evangelical Christian Academy Elementary Campus. Mrs. Harbach has been a part of the ECA family since 1990 and her children have graduated from, or are currently attending ECA. She has been working at ECA since 2004."
  • 2013 - Lori Wolfe
    "Mrs. Wolfe received her B.A. in Communications from the University of Delaware and first started teaching at ECA in 2001. Currently, she teaches Language Arts 7, Language Arts 8, Classical Literature 7/8 and 10th grade World Literature. Mrs. Wolfe has been a women’s retreat speaker, Bible study leader, missionary in the Philippines, and on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She and her family have hosted exchange students for many years. Mrs. Wolfe is passionate about her relationship with her Savior, her students and teaching. She desires for each student to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and encourages everyone to be more Godly."
  • 2013 - Karen Stephens
    "Mrs. Stephens received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Dordt College and Master's in Education from Grand Canyon University. Mrs. Stephens came to ECA in 1987 and has been teaching kindergarten since 1993. She is also a part-time assistant principal and co-lead the elementary school 2010 ACSI re-accreditation process. Mrs. Stephens remembers many of her own elementary school teachers and the impact of their love and commitment to the Lord. She consistently desires to teach with the same love, commitment, and enthusiasm that her teachers gave to her. It is also her prayer that each child who enters her classroom will thoroughly enjoy learning and that they will love serving the Lord in all that they do."
  • 2014 - Darla Blue
    "Mrs. Blue received her B.S. in Elementary Education, Minor in Music from Chadron State College. She has been a part of ECA since 1988; both of her daughters attended the elementary and secondary schools. Mrs. Blue became the 3rd grade teacher in 2006. She enjoys being in the classroom setting, where she feels like she can impact her students personally, spiritually, and academically. Mrs. Blue sees it as a privilege to work with children, helping them develop as a whole person, to reach their fullest potential, and to be an integral part of His kingdom. In the nomination package for The Ezekiel Award, she was commended for encouraging and challenging her students, mentoring new teachers, heading up an important committee in preparation for re-accreditation, directing the drama students in their annual Christmas program every year, modeling prayer with her students, and instituting special learning activities."
  • 2015 - Marie Burley
    "Mrs. Burley received her B.A. in Ballet and her M.A. in Production Management from University of Utah. She has been a part of Evangelical Christian Academy since 1996 at the elementary school and in 2002 started teaching at the secondary campus. Mrs. Burley has a heart for the students and a passion for teaching. She sees the goal of Christian education to glorify God by equipping students with necessary skills within the framework of Christianity. It is her prayer that our ECA students embark on a lifelong love of learning about God and His creation. In the nomination package for The Ezekiel Award, Mrs. Burley was commended for demonstrating “humble, steady care for students’ spiritual success while in school and after graduation. She brings both the Bible and Christian worldview into class in a natural and genuine manner. She applies her wisdom and knowledge in a winsome fashion that attracts students to her godly way of engaging with the world."
  • 2016 - Karen Leidecker
    "Mrs. Leidecker received her B.A. in K-8 Education with a Psychology and Bible minor from Tennessee Temple University. She has been a part of Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA) since 1995 at the high school teaching numerous science and math junior high and high school classes. She also leads the junior high Matchwits club. Mrs. Leidecker has a love for her subjects, constantly showing wonder as to the beauty and intricacy of creation. Her wonder for God’s handiwork is evident in her explanation of her subject matter in class. She considers it a great joy to be able to minister Christ’s love to junior high and high school students through the subjects of science and math. In the nomination package for The Ezekiel Award, Mrs. Leidecker was commended for "a true caring heart and love for her students."
  • 2016 - Kerry Singleton
    "Mrs. Singleton received her B.A.in Middle Grades Education, with an emphasis in Mathematics and English instruction from Covenant College. She has been a part of Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA) since 2011 at the junior high and high school. She has taught of variety of subjects including Junior High and High School math, 7 th grade Ancient History, Literature, and Bible and 8th grade Medieval History, Literature, and Bible as well as high school World Literature. Mrs. Singleton will spend extra time finding ways to communicate the concept or explain an idea to a class or an individual student so that they feel successful in what they do. She has also taken on administrative duties serving as the Junior High Assistant Principal. She loves sharing her passion for God and her subjects with her students, and it is a joy for her to point students to their true identity in Christ and to the one, true God, the source of all truth. In the nomination package for The Ezekiel Award, Mrs. Singleton was commended for being "very supportive, patient, kind and always inspiring students to reach their highest potential."
  • 2017 - Pam Gergen
    "Mrs. Gergen received her B.A. in Education from the University of Northern Iowa. She has been a part of Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA) since 2007 at the elementary school teaching first grade. Mrs. Gergen has had many years of teaching experience, and she consistently desires to be a positive influence on today’s young children and help to build godly character in each one of them. In the nomination package for The Ezekiel Award, Mrs. Gergen was commended for exuding “love and care, even in the toughest of situations” and for making “Christ as the Center of the Classroom.”"
  • 2018 - Leigh Jones
    The winner of The Ezekiel Award for effective Christian witness and excellence in teaching for the 2017-2018 school year is Mrs. Leigh Jones.  She teaches Junior High Mathematics, Literature, History, and Bible. Mrs. Jones received her B.A. in Education, Elementary Education from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mrs. Jones has attended Christian school from Kindergarten through college and has taught in Christian schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Fort Collins, CO. In the nomination package for The Ezekiel Award, Mrs. Jones was commended by the superintendent, principal, parents and students as “an exemplary instructor,” having “mastered the 7 Laws, classical aspects, Biblical integration, and classroom management,” and “an amazing teacher with a clear love for God, His word, and His people, her students.” “She builds up the students in ways so effective I’ve never seen before,” and “the best language arts teacher I have ever come across.” She “would read out loud in different voices to make the book come alive,” and “We have great discussions on what we believe.”
  • 2019 - Natalie Jagers
    The recipient of The Ezekiel Award for effective, Christian witness and excellence in teaching for the 2018-2019 school year is Mrs. Natalie Jagers who teaches Pre-Kindergarten at the ECA Elementary campus. Mrs. Jagers received her Bachelor's in Music Education (BM) in Church Music from Ouachita Baptist University.
    Mrs. Jagers served as a teacher aide at ECA for several years prior to becoming the Pre-Kindergarten teacher. Prior to that, she taught music in several District 11 schools, was a preschool, music, and Bible teacher in Los Angeles, and has been the Preschool Director for the last five years for Circle Drive Baptist where her husband currently serves as the Executive/Youth Pastor. She is a Colorado Springs native who was lovingly nurtured by her parents, church family, and community. She thinks Pre-K kids are especially fun to work with because they are filled with awe and wonder for life! She partners with parents and churches to fulfill the mission statement of ECA by showing the love of Christ while educating, equipping, and empowering these little ones to pursue their purpose in Christ.
    In the nomination package for The Ezekiel Award, Mrs. Jagers was noted as having “an incredible enthusiasm for the Lord and lets that shine through in all that she does at ECA.” “When you walk into Natalie’s classroom you are immediately engaged in what is going on. She draws the students’ attention and is gifted in keeping them engaged and on task with the activity at hand.” “She organized numerous special event days to showcase what she is doing with the Pre-K program, such as the Mommy and Me Tea, Pre-K/Kindergarten Adventure Day, and our Volunteer Appreciation Chapel.” “Natalie lives by her philosophy that, when teaching children, it is critical to cultivate Godly character and teach the ‘whole’ child-spiritually, mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally.”
Opinion:
Deaths of local teens are a reminder to live well
Colorado Springs Gazette, CO - Aug 22, 2007