The WHSFA offers a number of awards to recognize excellence. Educators also may notify us of retirement/stepping down, and will receive a certificate commemorating their years of service.
Speech coaches within their first five years of coaching are eligible for the award when they are doing exceptional work as exemplified by: (A). Number of students involved in forensic program as juxtaposed with the size of the school; and (B). Quality of student performances at the State Speech Festival as indicated by number of students receiving gold, silver and bronze. Candidate must submit the following through the online form (button to right), by March 15. Recipient(s) will be announced at State Speech.
- Three Letters of Recommendation:
- Testimonial from a current student, alum, or a parent of a current/former student.
- Two letters from other coaches, administrators, supervisors, colleagues, and WHSFA District/Sectional Chair.
- Essay: "Why I Coach” in 12-point font, with 1” margins, double-spaced, and not exceeding two (2) pages.
About Ethel Heise
Ethel Heise was a longtime Speech coach from Neenah who also taught at Oshkosh Lourdes Academy where she was their first teacher to earn the esteemed Herb Kohl Teaching Fellowship in 1992, and in the same year, received the Wisconsin Communication Association's Andrew T. Weaver Award for excellence in teaching speech communication. Heise said that she started teaching because she enjoyed her days as a student: “When I was a senior in high school, I didn’t want it to end. The next thing to do was go back and do I again.” She was always supportive of new coaches, which is why WHSFA named this award in her honor.
Past Heise Award Recipients
2010: Nick Sirek, Eau Claire Mem. HS & DeLong MS
2011: Shauna Wessely, Milton HS
2012: Craig Pierce, DeSoto HS
2012: Amy Koszarek, Waterford HS
2013: Abbi Wills-Phillips, Lincoln HS, Wis. Rapids
2014: Vanessa Sieg, Bloomer HS
2017: Jennifer Kieran, Ellsworth HS
2018: Jennifer Jackowski, Union Grove HS
2019: Cole Pankratz, Eau Claire Memorial HS
WHSFA is able to recognize an educator for significant and/or long-term contributions to interscholastic speech, theatre and/or debate activities; however, professional contributions -- both in Wisconsin and beyond the state -- are of utmost importance. The nominee should have been involved in more than one forensic activity (e.g., Speech and One-Act Theatre), and/or should have had a major impact on shaping one activity. Contributions should be of a statewide impact -- or beyond -- and not just at the school level. Each nomination should be accompanied by a photo of the nominee. Please limit support material to the space provided in the nomination form. This nomination form is due by October 10. This award has a lengthier approval process, and will be announced in spring of the following school year.
Past NFHS Award Recipients
1990: Stephen Spear, Loyola University & WHSFA Debate Advisor
2009: Roxanne Wakeen, Baldwin-Woodville MS/HS
2014: Lynda Luce, Waupaca HS (posthumously)
2017: Nancy Herbison, Tomahawk
2019: Patricia Luostari, Northwestern HS, Maple, WI
2020: Adam Jacobi, WHSFA*
* Also the NFHS Section 4 honoree
It could be awarded to an individual (or group) that:
- has demonstrated exemplary “heart,” sportsmanship and/or citizenship in participation as it should occur;
- has exceeded normal expectations in assisting others within the school or community; or
- has overcome adversity or a challenging circumstance.
In the instance of a student, that student must be in good academic standing within his or her respective high school. Among the qualifying criteria that will be used are the student’s grade-point average, the activities in which he or she is involved, and community involvement. Other candidates should possess similar positive character traits, such as a high level of integrity and ethics. The nomination must be for something that occurred between January 1 and December 31. Nominated individuals do not necessarily need to still be enrolled in high school at the time of the nomination. This nomination form is due by January 10. After review by WHSFA, it will be advanced to the NFHS for final consideration. This award has a lengthier approval process, and will be announced in late spring.
Past State Award Recipients
2020: JI Case Eagle Theatre, Racine
This award seeks to recognize any student, adult, or group associated with a school's performing arts programs -- who exemplify ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. The award may be given in recognition of a specific act or for an activity of longer duration. This award, similar to the Spirit of Sport Award, covers myriad performing arts disciplines sponsored by a state activities association, which in Wisconsin includes: Music, Speech, Debate, Theatre, and Film. This nomination is due by December 15.