Laura Penner Wins 2021 Oster Award
By: Mike Stiles - Friday, May 7, 2021

STURGIS – A long time Sturgis educator has received a prestigious award.

Laura Penner recently was selected to receive the 2021 John E. Oster Award for Excellence In Teaching. The award is given annually to an educator who is nominated by community members, based on a dedication to professional development, community service and teaching.

Penner, who is a Sturgis native, graduated with the Sturgis High School Class of 1986. She also graduated from Western Michigan University, and has been an exemplary teacher with Sturgis Public Schools since 1997. She is known for her genuine care and dedication to her students. A leader both in and out of the classroom, Laura has served as a coach to the Sturgis High School girls swim team, in addition to leading the SHS Business Professionals Of America program for more than 20 years. When she is not teaching or coaching, Penner volunteers with community blood drives, at Thurston Woods Village and numerous community fundraisers.

Several of the nominations for Penner included many colleagues and community members with a common theme: a willingness to go “above and beyond” for her students. The John E. Oster Award is funded through the John E. Oster Memorial Fund, a permanent endowment of the Sturgis Area Community Foundation. Oster, a Sturgis lawyer, was deeply interested and concerned with appropriate recognition and reward for teachers who taught in the Sturgis School District.

The fund was established by Oster's wife JoEllen Oster in 1981. Penner is the 40th recipient of the Oster Award.


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