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Archive for the ‘Honored Educators’ Category

Catherine teaches 6th grade English at M. Marcus Kiley Middle School in Springfield, MA.  She loves her job and adores the children. She tries to prepare them for life with an open minded, sociological, and democratic education.

As one of this year’s Pioneer Valley Teachers of Excellence Awards recipients, we asked her the following questions: (more…)

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Paulette  is a reading and ESL teacher for grades K-6 at Conway Grammar School.  She works with a wonderful team of educators and has a supportive community.

As one of this year’s Pioneer Valley Teachers of Excellence Awards recipients, we asked her the following questions: (more…)

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John Kislo with studentsJosh is an Instructor/Chef at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton and a  graduate of Northampton High School, Class of 1977.   He himself earned a Culinary Arts Certificate from Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in 1979 as well as a Bachelor of Science in Education/Occupational Education at Westfield State University in 1999.  He’s been a Culinary Arts Instructor since February of 1988.  Here are his responses to a few questions  (more…)

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A force in my own life, Maya Angelou reminded us, as Michelle Obama said in her recent eulogy, “that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race.” (more…)

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Happy, Magical New Years

Groverweb2On the eve of this New Year, I’d like to thank you for your service to the young people in our region, who can never have too many loving and supportive adults in their lives.  Henry David Thoreau writes, “To affect the quality of the day is the highest of the arts.”   You have the privilege and the challenge of affecting the quality of students’ lives every day with the magic — and hard work — of learning and the promise of many Happy New Years.

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We Thank You

choose_btm_04Over this long weekend that celebrates Thanksgiving, we want to thank our readers for their work educating young people.   Some, unaware of the dedication and determination it takes to be effective teachers, may joke about the number of days off in a school calendar.  From 30+ years of  teaching, I know that these breaks are needed to refresh ourselves, renew our energy, and reflect on our practice.

Practice teaching is not just a 6 or 8 week assignment but a lifetime of daily caring for students, believing in their potential, and cultivating their young minds.  Angela Duckworth says in the PBS TED Talks Education special that “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”  Lasting success in any field takes grit and determination for long-term goals, and often teachers never know how their work affects students’ futures.

So we thank you and hope you enjoy these precious moments with family and friends.  We’ll be here for you again on Monday to support you in your practice.

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skd283128sdcNew York Time’s writer Michael Sokolove recently returned to his alma mater, Truman High, to write, “The Real-Life ‘Glee’ in Levittstown, Pa.”   Central to the article is Lou Volpe, his former teacher who directed an outstanding drama program in an otherwise unremarkable town.  The article holds lessons for all teachers who want to make a real impact on students.

As Volpe retires after more than 40 years of teaching, the words of former students help define effective teaching.  For example, Volpe had applauded Sokolove’s writing as a student by simply asking,  “Has anyone ever told you that you’re a good writer?” and making Sokolove aware of his talents beyond the athletic field.  Volpe calls Mariela Castillo, who is challenged by a working class background and remedial classes attributed to childhood leukemia, one of his most talented actresses.  Of him she says:  “In theater, everything is staged and organized. It goes in order and fits together. I’ve seen how Mr. Volpe is so brilliant at that, and it’s helped me organize my life in the same way.”

Of Volpe’s relationship with students, Sokolove writes, “At a certain moment, he knew them better than they knew themselves. That is what gifted, intuitive teachers do. What they say doesn’t have to be that profound — just well timed and well aimed. Their words go to a place that no other teacher, and no parent, has touched.” As the article reveals, Volpe’s gifts are hard won through self-motivated professional development, self-exploration, and recognition of students’ potential.  Read entire article.

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indexWe’re happy to share another profile of a recipient of the 2013 Pioneer Valley Teacher of Excellence Awards.   Jamie Lynn Lewinski, district ESL teacher for the Granby Public Schools, sent in the following responses, which reveal her dedication and commitment to making a difference in students’ lives.

Why have you become a teacher?  I chose to become a teacher to make a difference in my community.  Working with English Language Learners is extremely rewarding as it allows me to help a group of students who are at high risk for not completing their public education.

What keeps you enthusiastic about teaching, and where do you find your inspiration?  My inspiration comes from the diverse population of students that I teach.  Their families sacrifice so much and are faced with so many challenges.

Who has been a role model for you and why?  My great aunt always emphasized to me how important an education was.  She instilled in me the value of a college education and the importance of sharing knowledge with others.

What is a favorite classroom resources?  My favorite classroom resource is my iPad.  I’ve just begun tapping into its potential use in the classroom but the students are already loving it.

How do you try to keep a balance between the demands of your professional and person life?  I have trouble keep a balance because the relationships I build with my students and their families become very personal, which blurs the lines between my professional and personal life.  I best serve my families by being available during non-school hours.

If you could change just one thing in education today, what would it be?  It’s still frustrating to me that there never seems to be enough money to provide adequate services to our children.  If we short change our children, we shortchange our future.

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SKMBT_C55413082011080_0001We’ve been privileged to share the profiles of recipients of the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards.  Here, in our last profile of the summer, are the responses of Rita MacInnis, first grade teacher in the Williamsburg-Hampshire Regional School District.  We thought that  her love of her work made her profile especially appropriate since we just celebrated Labor Day.

Why have you become a teacher?  I always wanted to teach, from the time I was young.

What support did you receive, or wish you had received, early in your teaching career?  My husband, also a teacher and administrator, was always my mentor and supported me through jobs, job interviews and all teaching experiences.

What keeps you enthusiastic about teaching, and where do you find your inspiration?  I love my job!  I love greeting my smiley students each morning.  I want to do everything I can to ensure their love of learning and to support, nurture and enrich their school experience.  They are my inspiration.

Who has been a role model for you?  My husband, Tim Luce.

What is a favorite classroom resource (e.g., website, lesson, activity)?  I enjoy the resource, Mailbox magazine.  I also use the internet and Pinterest for current ideas.  Fountas and Pinnell phonics is a program I use and recommend as well.  To gain my first graders’ attention, I often raise my hand and say, “5 —  eyes are watching, ears are listening, mouths are quiet, bodies are still and hearts are caring.

How do you try to keep a balance between the demands of your professional and personal life?  It is definitely easier now that my children are grown, but I always made time to go to their after-school activities and games.  On weekends I would enlist their help to make games or charts and to help me in the classroom.  I have found that if I am well prepared for school each day, then I am less stressed, and I am a happier wife and mother.

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indexPamela White teaches business and technology at Chicopee Comprehensive High School.  One of this year’s recipients of the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards, she got hooked as an educator when first serving in the U. S. Air Force.

What motivated you to become a teacher/educator? I’ve always had an interest in education and became hooked after becoming a Training Manager in the Air Force working to provide quality training to airman.

What support did you receive, or wish you had received, early in your career?  A stronger program to help mid-career professionals transition to the teaching profession.

What keeps you enthusiastic about teaching/education, and where do you find inspiration?  Our school district is open to developing curriculum to support the ever-changing, technology-based applications and workforce requirements.

What do you find helps you to effectively interact with students?  Develop “fair” practices in the classroom; and listen to students.

How do you try to balance the demands of your professional and personal life?  Although, we live outside the school district, my family is very supportive by attending CCHS sporting events or academic activities during the school year.

If you could change just one thing in education today, what would it be?  Ensuring Consistent Practices.  Students thrive on fairness, routines and equitable reward or discipline.

What is some of the best advice you’ve been given? Or what is a favorite quotation?  A veteran teacher once told me that “these aren’t your own children, but they need you just the same.”

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