It was a star-studded night as Indianapolis Public Schools celebrated its outstanding staff, schools, community partners and alumni during the newly expanded IPS Hall of Fame Awards Friday, Oct. 30. The event included special guests Mayor Joe Hogsett, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett, Congressman Andre Carson and many more. You can watch the recording of the full event and pull any video and soundbites you may need from

See below for this year’s winners:

  • Teacher of the Year

An outstanding classroom teacher with the goal to inspire, rejuvenate and celebrate the profession of teaching.

  • John “Jack” Hesser, Harshman Middle School

John “Jack” Hesser is a science teacher at Harshman Middle School where he’s worked the last four years.

From dissecting animals and building mousetrap vehicles to chemical scavenger hunts and building rockets to launch, Hesser’s class is a favorite destination for his students. Last year, he was named 2019’s Outstanding Earth Science Teacher of the Year for Indiana by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers for his exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level.

Hesser is also popular with his colleagues setting an example for how to cultivate strong learning partnerships with students from all backgrounds, ensuring racial equity.

  • Innovation Teacher of the Year

An outstanding classroom teacher of an Innovation school with the goal to inspire, rejuvenate and celebrate the profession of teaching.

  • Jeffrey Mayo, Matchbook Learning at Wendell Phillips School 63

Jeffrey Mayo loves music and shares that love with his students in elementary and middle school as the general music teacher and director of choir and musical theater. But it doesn’t end there, he’s also his school’s lead teacher for Social Emotional Learning, the cross-country coach and a member of the school’s PTO.

Mayo has helped the culture of the building, understands the need to develop relationships with all students by providing diversity and compassion for all and spends his planning periods to calm students and provide redirection when needed.

  • Principal of the Year

An IPS school leader who has a proven track record of instructional leadership.

  • Deana Perry, William McKinley School 39

Deana Perry has articulated a clear instructional vision with a schoolwide focus on teaching and learning that is data-driven. She has developed and maintained a purposeful school culture that supports a safe and effective learning environment. She communicates very well with all of the school’s stakeholders building positive relationships. Perry can make the tough decisions when necessary to move the school forward while maintaining the support, respect and admiration of the entire school community

  • Outstanding Staff Member of the Year

An IPS employee with an outstanding commitment to the overall district.

  • Tiffany Bowman

Tiffany Bowman is a physical therapist and the team lead for occupational and physical therapy supporting all of the occupational and physical therapists in the district. She has helped bridge the gap between occupational and physical therapists. She developed a handbook so current and future therapists can provide the best, most consistent care across the district. She works on her personal time to make sure her team has what they need to do their jobs to the highest standard. She helped fund and implement sensory rooms in several schools. Bowman provides students with the necessary adaptive equipment in order to successfully access their learning environment.

  • Excellence in Innovation

An IPS Innovation school partner or Innovation School that has reimagined what’s possible through innovative pathways to excellence.

  • Global Preparatory School at Riverside School 44

Mariama Shaheed is the CEO and principal. Shaheed founded the dual language immersion Innovation Network School more than five years ago. According to the nomination letter, among many other things, “giving students hope and self-worth are some of the most powerful impacts phenomenal educators have on students. Day in and day out, the team sheds light on the positive attributes that students possess and nurtures those characteristics while whittling away at the elements that could bring a child down.”

  • Engaging School

An IPS school that has actively deepened community partnerships and family engagement.

  • Charles W. Fairbanks School 105

School 105 is being awarded the Engaging School Award for its outstanding staff members with caring hearts who make their students feel comfortable in their environment and want to participate in activities. Nominations sing the praises of the school’s positive, trusting relationships with students and the strong strides made to improve school climate by encouraging parent and family involvement in education.

Charles W. Fairbanks School 105 is also known for always trying new things, including the creation of a poetry club that has grown exponentially and has attracted poets throughout the city to give pointers about the art form to participating students.

  • Community Partner in Action

An individual or community organization that consistently works with the district, an individual IPS school or group of schools to actively deepen student and family success.

  • Teachers’ Treasures

This organization distributes free school supplies to Marion County teachers of students in need. They currently operate a mobile program and two centers, including one located inside Northwest Middle School. Teachers’ Treasures has served approximately 2,500 IPS teachers and 30,000 students providing teachers an opportunity to shop at least once a month leaving with $400 to $1,000 worth of free supplies each trip.

  • Circle City Broadcasting

Owner, president and CEO DuJuan McCoy grew up in Indianapolis and attended IPS. Since returning to Indianapolis and buying WISH-TV and its sister station, MyINDY-TV, Circle City Broadcasting wasted no time partnering with IPS and immediately jumping to action during a critical time. Shortly after schools shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district faced barriers getting instruction to some students who didn’t have devices or internet service. Circle City Broadcasting broadcast lessons to students in Grades K-8 five days a week on MYINDY-TV, Channel 23, mirroring the lessons teachers were already sharing on their class pages online.

  • Inspiring Alumni

An IPS graduate of a current or former IPS school recognized for outstanding professional and community accomplishments.

This year’s inspiring alumni winners include:

  • Eugene Akers, graduate of Arsenal Technical High School

Mr. Akers is a U.S. Army veteran. He dedicated more than 37 years working in public service while employed at the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department and IPS. He currently serves as the Center Township trustee where among many other things he provides programs to returning veterans who face a series of challenges and needs.

  • Congressman Andre Carson, graduate of Arsenal Technical High School

Congressman Carson represents Indiana’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and is in his sixth term. Before taking office, Congressman Carson served on the Indianapolis City-County Council and worked in law enforcement. He also worked in intelligence and counterterrorism for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

  • Carole Craiggraduate of Crispus Attucks High School

Ms. Craig is a retired IPS employee where she worked as a teacher, guidance counselor, dean of students, principal and human resources director. Craig also worked on behalf of urban schools for the NAACP. She is an educational equity consultant for school districts in Indiana, specializing in cultural responsiveness. She also owns a consulting business, Carole Craig Leadership Services, LLC.

  • Steve Downing, graduate of George Washington High School

Mr. Downing is the Marian University Director of Athletics. He played basketball at IU and was a member of the 1974 world champion Boston Celtics. In 1995, he was inducted into the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was inducted into the Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame.

  • Robert Jackson, graduate of Crispus Attucks High School

Mr. Jackson will receive this award posthumously. He spearheaded the efforts to open an alumni office on the campus of Crispus Attucks High School, allowing alumni to provide assistance and support to students. He was also an active member and officer of the Crispus Attucks Alumni Association and Attucks Alumni Lettermen’s Club. Mr. Jackson was a business owner and the founder of Jackson’s Tax Service.

  • Tibor Klopfer, graduate of Broad Ripple High School

Mr. Klopfer is a retired attorney and partner at Faegre Drinker Biddle and Reath Law firm. He’s also a Holocaust education speaker where he regularly shares the story of the atrocities his Hungarian Jewish family members experienced during the Holocaust. Since 2013, he’s traveled around the world giving 75 presentations to a total audience of nearly 7,000 people in middle, junior and senior high schools, college students and adults.

  • Kevin “Coach K” Lee, graduate of Broad Ripple High School

Mr. Lee is a music mogul and the co-founder and chief operating officer for Quality Control Music. His company has produced hit-making hip-hop acts such as platinum-selling artists Migos, Lil Yachty and Lil Baby along with many more artists. His reach is growing outside of music and into film production, sports and more.

  • Patricia Payne, graduate of Shortridge High School

Dr. Payne has worked for Indianapolis Public Schools for more than 58 years as an IPS educator and currently serves as the director of the IPS Racial Equity Institute. She also helped author the district’s historic Racial Equity Policy and Black Lives Matter resolution, the first-of-its-kind actions adopted by the IPS Board of School Commissioners this past June.

  • Leonard Scott, graduate of Arsenal Tech High School

Dr. Scott is the founder and CEO of the nation’s oldest black-owned and operated gospel recording company, Tyscot Music & Entertainment. He has also owned and operated Scott Dentistry for more than 40 years. Dr. Scott is the pastor of the Rock Community Church in Indianapolis where he’s ministered to many throughout the U.S. and overseas. He’s also a musician who has recorded several albums and a writer who has authored three books.

  • Steven Taylor, graduate of Arsenal Tech High School

Mr. Taylor is a Broadway actor, who currently plays Mufasa in the blockbuster musical, “The Lion King.” He also performs in concerts at Carnegie Hall. His acting credits include several hit TV shows, including “Law & Order SVU,” “Blue Bloods” and “NCIS New Orleans.” His voice can be heard on ads for McDonald’s, the NFL, Geiko and more. He’s also narrated more than 50 audio books.

For more information, contact Carrie Cline Black, IPS communications manager, at 317-605-3797.