GJSD Names Four ABCD Award Winners

Bolebruch, Cook, Fisk and VonderHeide recognized by

Board of Education for going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

A commemorative pin is shown that has a purple stone in the middle, with the words "ABCD Award, Johnstown" on it.

The GJSD Board of Education and District administration are pleased to recognize four outstanding employees as ABCD Award recipients for the fourth and final quarter of the 2020-2021 school year:

HEIDI BOLEBRUCH:  science teacher, Junior-Senior High School

RUTHIE COOK:  GJSD Assistant Superintendent

JULIA FISK:  elementary art teacher at Pleasant Avenue, Warren Street and Knox

JENNIFER VONDERHEIDE:  social studies teacher, Junior-Senior High School

The ABCD Award was born from the Board of Education’s desire to acknowledge employees of the Greater Johnstown School District who are nominated by school community members for going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty to make a difference in the lives of Johnstown students.

Any district employee is eligible for the award and nominations can come from anyone in the community – fellow GJSD colleagues, students, parents and community members. At least two employees are given the award each quarter throughout the school year, with a committee choosing the recipients from the nominations that are turned in.

All four recipients for this quarter were invited to the June 16 Board of Education meeting where they were publicly acknowledged, thanked by board members and given the opportunity to say a few words about what winning the award meant to them.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Crankshaw also presented each recipient with a certificate and a commemorative ABCD Award pin.

a woman with brown hair wearing a black shirt stands in front of a door with the outline of a microscope on it.

Heidi Bolebruch, science teacher at Johnstown Junior-Senior High School

HEIDI BOLEBRUCH is a science teacher at Johnstown Junior-Senior High School. In addition to her classroom duties, Bolebruch serves as the Curriculum and Instructional Leader for grade 7-12 science and technology; is a Group Mentor; a Data Coach; a Johnstown Teachers’ Association Officer; a class advisor for the JHS Class of 2023; and a class advisor for the JHS Class of 2021. In the Fall of 2020, she helped to organize and implement a project called “Adopt a Senior” to help lift the spirits of JHS seniors throughout the year. This special activity anonymously paired Class of 2021 students with volunteer GJSD staff members, Board of Education members and retired teachers. The volunteers, known only to their assigned student as “Secret Sir Bill” or “Secret Lady Bill”, regularly delivered small gifts and cards to their special senior throughout the year to let them know that they were being thought of. Bolebruch’s coordination of the “Adopt a Senior” program, ensuring that Johnstown seniors have a special memory, is certainly Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.


a blonde woman wearing a pink shirt poses in the hallway of a school near a staircase

Ruthie Cook, GJSD Assistant Superintendent

RUTHIE COOK has gone Above and Beyond the Call of Duty for a number of years in her role as Assistant Superintendent for the Greater Johnstown School District. In a position that often requires putting in extra hours to help things run as smoothly as possible, Cook is admired by her colleagues for exhibiting “grace under pressure” while dealing with tough topics like budget deficits, building closures, unpredictable pandemic regulations and three successive turnovers in administrative leadership. Through all of this, colleagues note that Cook’s kindness shines through and that she treats those around her with dignity and respect. Cook’s behind the scenes dedication to the district definitely go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.


a woman with short hair, wearing a black apron stands in front of art supplies

Julia Fisk, elementary art teacher at Pleasant Avenue, Warren Street and Knox

JULIA FISK teaches art to approximately 700 Johnstown elementary students, traveling between the Pleasant Avenue, Warren Street and Knox buildings, and then traveling between classrooms with her supplies on a cart. During COVID, she also created bags of materials with lessons included for remote learners. Fisk has been with the district for many years and has taught thousands of Johnstown students throughout her tenure. She is commended by her school community for making the effort to get to know each and every student individually. Fisk goes Above and Beyond the Call of Duty to create meaningful art experiences that inspire all of her students to be creative and have fun.


a woman wearing a striped shirt in muted colors, wearing glasses, sits in front of a world map.

Jennifer VonderHeide, social studies teacher at Johnstown Junior-Senior High School

JENNIFER VONDERHEIDE works tirelessly as Johnstown’s sole ninth grade social studies teacher, always trying different methods to keep students engaged during both hybrid and traditional school years. She demonstrates extra compassion with her students, reaching out to them personally to make certain they know she is there to help get them on track. VonderHeide is also actively involved in both extracurricular and Johnstown Teacher Association activities. She serves as the advisor for the Johnstown High School Student Council, a student organization that engages students in community service and creates a welcoming and fun atmosphere in the school. She is also the Johnstown Teachers’ Association chairperson for the William A. Wright Scholarship committee, and has assisted in raising and  bestowing thousands of dollars in scholarship funds to Johnstown’s graduating seniors. Her school community notes that she is warm, caring, and hardworking. To quote one of the many students she has inspired, “She is an excellent teacher that goes Above and Beyond the Call of Duty and will forever and always leave a positive impact.”

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