The Teachers of Ohio Representing Character and Heart (TORCH) recognition celebrates teachers who model strong character and a heart for their students, colleagues and communities. The TORCH recognition selection committee was greatly impressed by the stories of teachers from across Ohio who are dedicated to educational equity and make strong personal commitments to their students. From these nominations, the five teachers listed below were recognized during spring 2022.

Sandi Stegman

Fairfield Central Elementary School

Sandi Stegman is a 5th grade teacher at Fairfield Central Elementary School and has served her district over the last 20 years, finding a calling to teaching as her second career. She invests deeply in her students, their families, and the community they live. As she works to ensure all students have representation and an equitable opportunity to thrive, her mantra is, "It is hard to lead with heart."

Jeff Bertke

Upper Valley Career Center Electrical Trades

Jeff Bertke is a graduate of the Upper Valley Career Center Electrical Trades program, where he now teaches and inspires his students. The highly decorated teacher works to build relationships between his students and their community, using electrical trades as a medium to do good. His character and heart are in the many projects he initiates like transforming an old church into a community center, installing fire alarms in low-income homes, updating a veteran’s museum and work to recruit non-traditional students and young women into electrical trades. 

Erin Budic 

Liberty Tree Elementary

Erin Budic motivates and inspires her students and the entire Liberty Tree Elementary family as a 3rd grade teacher. Her compassion is seen through the service club she leads, allowing students to support an assisted living facility, humane society, children’s hospital, free store, school district and many more. From dance parties to assemblies to Staff Olympics, students, staff and the community can feel how much Mrs. Budic values each and every one.

Jarrod Stevens

Walter G. Nord School

Jarrod Stevens, a Physical Education teacher at Walter G. Nord School radiates compassion, integrity, honor and respect to all of his colleagues and students. He leads the school’s PBIS program with enthusiasm, regularly celebrating students and staff while supporting colleagues in the building. In addition, Mr. Stevens leads a club that provides mentoring and real-world experiences for young men.

Kayla Richter 

Monroe Central High School


Kayla Richter, a science and media arts high school teacher at Monroe Central High School, leads with the heart inside and outside of the school. After initiating the Agricultural Science pathway and a community service group, she worked to establish a chapter of FFA where students complete hundreds of hours of community service each year. Mrs. Richter brings the community together by organizing 5Ks, holiday events, and through photography skills, raising awareness and funds to support critical causes and to help those in need.

Last Modified: 12/20/2023 11:20:47 AM