Teacher, cook, and teacher assistant receive “Shining Stars” recognition grants

A teacher who shows how much “she adores her kids,” a cook who “keeps not only bellies full but hearts full, too” and a teacher assistant who works with “a special kind of grace” have been honored with special grants from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation (LPEF).

Students help SOTA I Teacher Anna Jordan celebrate her “Shining Star” recognition, received from Tom and Jean Thompson.

Honored in surprise visits on Monday were:

  • Anna Jordan, a teacher at SOTA I (School of Technology & Arts I), a public charter elementary school serving kindergarten through Grade 5 and based at Hamilton School.
  • Roxanne Hicke, a school nutrition employee at Lincoln Middle/SOTA II/Coulee Montessori.
  • Heath Bornheimer, a teacher assistant at Northside Elementary/Coulee Montessori.

See nomination details below.

These employees were chosen from among more than 130 staff members who were nominated by colleagues, parents, students and community members for recognition as a “Shining Star” among the staff of the School District of La Crosse.

Funding for the grants – ranging from $150 to $250 each – comes through the generosity of Drs. Tom and Jean Heyt Thompson, who created an LPEF endowment fund to provide permanent support for recognition programs for teachers and staff in La Crosse public schools. Tom is vice president of the LPEF Board and is a former member of the Board of Education, having been deeply involved in schools for more than 30 years. He and Jean were partners in the Thompson Animal Medical Center.

Heath Bornheimer, center, was honored for his work as a teacher assistant at Northside Elementary/Coulee Montessori. Joining him were Tom Thompson, left, and Jean Thompson.

The Shining Star recognition is part of a larger celebration this week, funded primarily through grant support from the La Crosse Community Foundation’s Carol Taebel “Thank a Teacher” Fund.

  • The Taebel Fund grant will support delivery of fresh fruit, donuts and muffins to more than 1,000 employees throughout the District on Tuesday morning as part of the LPEF Thank a Teacher Day, which has been held annually since 2015.
  • In addition, the Taebel Fund grant is providing recognition for 10 other “Shining Star” employees who were selected at random from among 130-plus nominees. Each receives $50 in gift certificates to downtown La Crosse businesses.

Read all of the “Shining Star” nominations 


  • “She goes above and beyond to make the kids feel comfortable and have fun at school. She is very compassionate and she shows she adores her kids in the classroom in so many ways. She keeps parents up to date and helps keep our kids safe while at school. She’s definitely a gem of a teacher!”
  • “Miss Anna is a great teacher every year, but this year she has gone above and beyond. I feel like having the class via Zoom for the first half of the year let me see more of the ‘classroom’ than I would have otherwise, and I was SO impressed. She is wonderful with our 1st grader of course, but SO supportive & encouraging of the whole class no matter where they’re at. She’s patient and never let Zoom challenges get her down (or at least she didn’t show it!). Our daughter made tremendous progress with her reading this year, both online and back in the classroom and that truly comes down to Anna. We are so grateful for her!”

Lincoln cook Roxanne Hicke was presented her special grant by Tom and Jean Thompson.

ROXANNE HICKE, Lincoln cook

  • “She is one of the best lunch ladies ever. Roxanne not only makes really good food that students enjoy, but also cares for the students she has. She makes sure everyone is fed and even teaches the students about nutrition. Also, every month, she’ll create a new theme for the whiteboard in the hallway to make the environment educational and fun. If anyone deserves this award it’s Roxanne Hicke.”
  • “Roxanne cares a lot about her job and the kids she affects every day. She goes out of her way to change the whiteboard every month to bring a positive atmosphere to the school upon many other things she does for the school!”
  • “She always wants to put a smile on people’s faces – you can tell she cares.”
  • “She is an amazing person who cares about the kids.”
  • “Throughout the years I’ve known Roxie, she has shown she keeps not only bellies but hearts full, too.”

HEATH BORNHEIMER, Northside teacher assistant

  • “Heath always puts everyone else’s “needs” before his own and he does it with the most positive attitude and a special kind of grace. He is without a doubt one of the hardest working adults in this building.”
  • “He is everywhere support is needed. On call all day to assist with behaviors, he is the first to arrive and helps to calm the situation. He speaks rationally with kids and has relationships with so many of our needy students. He is a reliable support staff and is always respectful to kids while redirecting unsafe choices. He is a valuable member of our staff.”
  • “He goes above and beyond to not only help students, but staff. I frequently see him eating his lunch late in the afternoon because he puts others ahead of himself. He deserves to be recognized for his dedication!”

LPEF’s mission is to enhance learning opportunities for students and to promote community support for public education. For more information, email Executive Director David Stoeffler at: david@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org.