Award Recipients - Elementary School 

Amie Abdal-Khabir

Katherine Abele

Katie Adelman

Beth Altchek

Mariana Alwell

Holly Arthur  
Mary Barrett

Carolyn Beadle

Bobbie Becka

Roberta Benson

Katie & Steve  Bethune

Nicole Brandl

Stephanie Brown

Sandra Burns
Sharon Burr

Rebecca Butler
Pauline Carey
/ Bethany     Sager/Susan Woodman

Ginny Carroll

Deane Cody

Carol Colvin

Rhonda Conaway &

  Jennifer D'Antonio

Laura Coor

Ginny Croft
Cora Crowe
Kathryn D’Addesio

Eleanor Demont

Patricia Diamond
Angie DiNapoli

Deanne Dixon

Vicki Ferstler

Judy Flynn

Aimee Fredette

Kathy Fucci
Emily Gaberman



Mary Ellen Galanis

Wendy Garland

Ginny Gay
Susan Getty

Herb Grace
Rosemary Greene

Paula Grimes
Eleanor Giusti

Gayla Haas &

   Kim Houser

Alicia Hamilton
Kathy Hart

Heidi Herschbach

Bill Horewitch

Wendy Johnson

Debbie Judge

Joy Karol

Michael Kascak

Sharon Kingsbury

Shevon Kuznezov

Lisa Landsberg

Carol Layman
Susan Logsden

Cindy Loper

Margaret Lydon

Ariela Mahoney

Michelle Makinson

Michelle Marion

Genoveva Matheus

Ruth Mathewson

Jennifer Mauk

Donna Maxwell

Eileen Moore

Melissa Morabito

Robin Moriarty

Bonnie Muir
Kristin Nelson






June O'Neill
Connie Owens
Barbara Pack

Shannon Paige

Judith Paradis
Erick Porter
Regina Pratt

Vicki Randolph

Susan Raser

Kathryn Reilly

Robin Rossi 

Tammy Routh
Alyssa Rubenstein
Helen Sagan

Megan Senini

Robyn Sewell-Poutra
Jeneva Sneed
Danice Smith
Nancy Springer
Anne Starek

Nova Stippel

Kate Stoneham

Pat Taurasi

Sharon Taylor

Robert Thomas

Jane Threet

Sandra Tolbert

Diana Towner

Susan Tully

Mary Pat Vargas
Nerissa Van Tuyl

Audrey Walker

Karen Walthall

Janet Wellock

Karen Wilson

Lisa Yerby

Amie Abdal-Khabir, 2014

Amie Abdal-Khabir is a  Grade 3 Teacher at the General John Nixon Elementary School in Sudbury MA. Colleagues describe Amie as “leader,” “innovator,” and “technology expert.” She is dedicated to exploring new and creative ways to teach. She is at the forefront in the district for integrating technology in order to enrich her students’ learning experiences. Walk into her classroom on any given day, and you will see her students creating Glogs to demonstrate their learning, or communicating about their favorite weekly activities on a class wiki. Rarely has Amie has ever taught the same lesson twice. She constantly reflects on her practice, asking, “How can I make it better?”

Many of her colleagues commented on Amie’s ability to be a thoughtful collaborator, who is always willing to share her expertise. She has facilitated professional development for the district in the area of technology; she volunteers to share her tips at staff meetings; and she is always welcoming when a colleague walks into her room to ask how to troubleshoot problems with their ActivBoard or how to most effectively use a particular educational web site. As one of her 3rd grade teammates states, “Amie is always willing to listen without judgments, keeping the focus on the task and always providing help to colleagues with a big smile.”

One of the many qualities that sets Amie apart from so many others is that she realizes her role as a teacher goes beyond the four walls of her classroom. Amie believes in giving back to the community. She has served on the board of the Sudbury Education Association, or SEA, as a building representative, Secretary, and currently as Treasurer. During her years of service on the board, Amie has passionately been a leader in furthering the cause of the Wally Bell Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to Sudbury Public School alumni. Each year, the SEA raises funds for this program by holding an Annual Softball Bonanza, where teachers volunteer to play against the middle school softball team. It is because of Amie’s dedication and tireless efforts for this cause that each year the Bonanza grows more and more successful, high school seniors continue to receive scholarships, and there are more and more educators motivated to volunteer their time and energy to give back.

Amie’s colleagues also describe her as “thoughtful” and a “rock.” She reaches out to new staff as a mentor and their union support, and she is a trusted friend to all. If a staff member has a question, problem, or good news to share, it is Amie they seek out first. She is a listener and a positive force, helping her colleagues feel heard and validated. She is the cheerleader when you want to celebrate, the consoling hug when you need it and, through example, she is the reminder to not “sweat the small stuff,” but instead focus on all of the good in our lives and in our roles as educators.

When students were asked to describe Mrs. Abdal-Khabir, several words came up repeatedly: “loud,” “energetic,” “funny,” “exciting,” and “charming.” When Amie is teaching a lesson, she does so with such enthusiasm that the students cannot help but be swept up in it. She also consistently ties in their learning to real-life applications. For example, in order to teach her students about the genre of drama, she helped them write scripts for a short “film” that was shown to the school in order to publicize the upcoming Food Pantry collection, another community service project. Her passion for learning and love of school is contagious, and her students are willing to tackle any challenge with her support.

Amie also takes the time to show the students she cares about them as people. Each student gets the chance to be “Special Person” for the week, bringing in photos and other memorabilia to create his or her own bulletin board. Amie even takes a turn herself, and students get to connect with her as she shares her love of movies, playing ice hockey, reading, and spending time with her family. Long after having her for a teacher, students will return to visit, volunteer in her room, or email her to keep her updated on their lives. In fact, it is because of her that several of them have been inspired to become educators themselves. Meredith Murray, a high school senior who is currently volunteering in Amie’s classroom, states, “I am looking forward to taking what I have learned from her to my own classroom someday.” For sure, Amie is leaving a legacy. And, she continues to have great impact on her students and colleagues every day.

Katherine (Kit) Abele, 2015

Katherine (Kit) Abele, Orff Music Instructor at the Alta Vista Elementary School, Union School District, is “inspiring, talented, creative, innovative.” These are just a few words that colleagues use to describe Kit Abele.   Kit has been the music teacher at Alta Vista School for the past several years, teaching 1st through 5th grade students.        

Kit received a BA in Communication Studies from Cal Poly.  A talented musician in her own right, she became acquainted with the Orff-Schulwerk  method of teaching music to children and felt compelled to teach children in this manner.   She says:   "I teach elementary school music... and I am 100% convinced that it is what I have been designed to do.  I am like a small child at Disneyland every moment I get to create music with my 1st-5th grade students.”  When you see her at work you understand her devotion and dedication to music and to children.

Kit has a remarkable ability to engage children in her lessons.  She provides students with opportunities to experience music through many modalities, including movement, singing, dancing, and improvisation.  She introduces the children to music concepts and theory by playing games and using rhythm activities. 

Kit sometimes uses unusual methods of performance to engage the interest of the students.  At one school board meeting, she led a group of middle school students in performing a body ostinato, which is a repeated percussion pattern.  These students were using hand slaps, mouth noises, stomps, and other sounds to perform a most unusual and delightful number that the children themselves had created.  The audience was spellbound.  

But Kit doesn’t just teach children the basics of music theory, and how to play the instruments.  She teaches them the joy of music, and introduces them to the thrill of learning to play an instrument.     

Kit is also capable of working with special needs children, helping them to feel successful and to find the joy of making music.  Cindy Loper, Special Day Teacher, noted, “Kit works with my Special Day Class 4th and 5th grade students every week. Her skill in teaching music, as well as her exemplary classroom management, make it possible for my students to fully participate in grade level curriculum.  She is able to do this as she skillfully knows how to break skills down into easily memorable size chunks.”

Kit brings her passion and love of music to the students and has earned a reputation across the school district and beyond for being an exemplary Orff music instructor.  She took a sabbatical during the 2010-2011 school year to continue her Orff studies, being one of only fifteen Orff certified teachers selected from around the globe to participate in an advanced program through the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria.  During this time, she continued to stay in touch with the Alta Vista community through her blog and regularly video conferencing with students during music class. 

Kit is highly respected and valued by everyone in her school and district communities and her name comes instantly to mind when one thinks of a teacher who is not only dedicated, but passionate about children and music.

Katie Adelman, 2010

Cathleen (Katie) Adelman is a fifth grade classroom teacher at Carlton Avenue School in the Union School District in San Jose. She was educated in the Union School District and then graduated from Branham High School and San Jose State University.  She also received her Master’s Degree and her preliminary administrative credential in Educational Leadership at San Jose State University.   Katie is in her fourteenth year of teaching, and she is bilingual in Spanish. The nomination papers for her included letters from all segments of the school community: her principal, a peer teacher, and district office personnel.

Katie, in addition to her daily classroom duties, serves as the administrative designee for Carlton.  She is a teacher leader liaison in Math for the Union School District, and serves as a teacher leader and facilitator on the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Curriculum Leadership Council.  She has been instrumental in developing strategies for differentiation for English Language Arts, differentiation for GATE students, best practices for Math instruction, academic vocabulary instruction, outdoor education (she attends science camp each year with her fifth graders), and the use of technology to enrich and extend the curriculum.  In addition, she helps to coordinate and participate in daily traffic patrol.  She is a professional development presenter, both within the District and at the County level.  It will come as no surprise that Katie is a true collaborator, always being ready and willing to share new information and strategies with her colleagues.

Katie is committed to developing students who want to be lifelong learners.  Bob Lowry, A Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, visited Katie’s classroom.

“What an inspirational visit that was!  When I entered the classroom forty minutes before the end of the school day, every student was engaged and on task, either working in a cooperative group or with Katie on some intriguing math concepts. I was pleased to see the amount of student work displayed in the classroom, covering virtually each content area.  In large letters at the front of the classroom was this announcement: Paradise Classroom:  Fifth Grade Rocks.  The classroom was so well organized, with everything labeled.  Students were self-directed, and it was commonplace to see students helping students.  It also quickly became clear to me that a great deal of hands-on learning takes place in Katie’s classroom. 

In chatting with various students about their classroom experience in Room 15, I received such replies as:  “Fun.”  “Really fun.”  “She has us doing a lot of fun things.”  And instead of a daily schedule, Katie’s schedule for the day is labeled “Daily Special!”  And I was not a bit surprised when Katie gave a smile and a high five to each and every student as he/she left the classroom.  I was so impressed that I asked Katie if she would be willing to enroll one more fifth grader--me!”

In her leisure time, Katie enjoys playing the guitar and banjo.  Being an avid outdoors person, she also enjoys running, kayaking, and mountain biking.  Katie is married and the proud mother of a daughter and son.

Kari Ito, a fellow teacher of Katie’s, highlights her colleague:

‘“She just can’t help herself!”  This is what her colleagues say about Mrs. Adelman.  She truly is a mentor teacher because  when she discovers something new that empowers her students and the learning in her classroom she just cannot stop herself from sharing it.  She has a natural grace in educational leadership.  Her ability to enthusiastically share her findings encourages others to try new teaching strategies because she makes others want to try new things while not making them feel  they have been doing it “wrong” all these years.”

Beth Altchek, 2006

Beth Altchek is a Grade 1-2 Teacher at the Lilja School in Natick, MA. According to her nominators, Beth is a “gifted educator who brings a keen intellect, tremendous creativity, and incredible energy to her daily work with children.” Beth is a “community builder.” “She has the ability to deal with children where they are at with tremendous insight and articulation. She teaches the children in her class what unique and valuable persons they are to the group.  Because she not only expects but also demands such a high level of respect, equality, and support in the classroom, she establishes a safe place for every child to take more personal risks throughout the year. The shy child, the academically struggling child, the rambunctious child; whatever the child’s personality and needs, Beth connects with each one.”


Finding and addressing teachable moments are a constant in Beth’s classroom. Children are prompted to not simply answer a question but to ask more questions in the process of finding an answer.  They are propelled into a deeper process of critical thinking in a way that they feel empowered as 6, 7, and 8 year olds.

Beth helped initiate and implement multi-age classrooms at Lilja, which have proved to be highly successful.  In her class, learning is an adventure, and creativity is a hallmark. Lessons may include disassembly of old computers and appliances to understand simple machines.  Nature walks in the local town forest lead to the building of native American houses. After bringing a naturalist/artist guest speaker in, Beth has her students observing, recording, and sketching animal tracks and habitats during their monthly walks in the woods.  This series of activities led to the production of a book called Mammal Guide, written and illustrated by her students, which is sold in local stores with proceeds going to the World Wildlife Federation.  The impressive forty page booklet is now used in other classrooms in Natick during their mammal studies.

Beth’s impact also reaches beyond the confines of her classroom as she shares her expertise with other professionals. She was selected by TERC, a non-profit education research and development organization dedicated to improving math, science, and technology teaching and learning, to participate in a three year study of math education in the classroom. This involved piloting new materials, contributing to curriculum development, and offering professional development.  Beth has also provided graduate level courses focused on the balanced literacy model for Natick teachers, which have been very well received.

For Beth Altchek, teaching is more than an occupation.  It is a calling.

Mariana Alwell, 2006

Mariana Alwell is a fourth-fifth grade teacher at the Garden Gate School in Cupertino, CA and mentor coach in mathematics for her district. Nominators describe Mariana as passionate about kids……a teacher of unqualified excellence….. an experienced, dedicated , and knowledgeable teacher,………..a teacher leader… unparalleled expert in the area of mathematics…., and a most valuable asset to her school and the broader community.”

Mariana represents commitment to children and the school community.  She understands that, whatever advances our mobile society makes, some things remain the same including the desire to learn and grow, the importance of ethical behavior, the feeling of belonging, and the sense of continuity within the community.

Mariana makes learning come alive.  To better understand a math concept or historical event, she and her students might wear costumes, dance, role play, or use manipulatives.  Her students, for example, become experts on one aspect of Ancient Egypt and then act as docents for the rest of the school during the two-day Garden Gate Egyptian Museum, which Mariana originates. In all situations, students are expected to be active learners, building their own understandings through discussion, hands-on activities, and in-depth research.  They are challenged to be flexible in their thinking, looking for other methods to solve a problem or trying to see another point of view.

Mariana is very much involved with her entire school community. As a teacher leader, she served on her school’s Leadership Committee, working on staff development.  She also serves on the faculty Advisory Committee . As a Math coach for the Noyce Program, she has provided staff development at her school.   She has given workshops and has supported individual teachers in their classrooms with curriculum development, model lessons, lesson ideas, and materials.  At the district level, she has been involved in a series of courses entitled Thinking Mathematics, a four year collaboration with local colleges, bringing a practical perspective and a willingness to try new approaches to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Mariana reaches out to other students at her school to provide activities that make learning more fun as well as challenging.  She organizes and leads the Math Olympiads and coaches the National Geographic Geography Bee on a school-wide basis to allow as many students as possible to be involved

Mariana states that she is passionate about kids and how they can be their best.  She comments, “I want them to be excited about their learning, to see connections, and to challenge themselves to problem solve and be creative.  Being their best means becoming good role models and seeing how their behavior can affect those around them, practicing tolerance and understanding, and learning to stand up for what they believe.”

Holly Arthur, 2002

Holly Arthur is a physical education and health teacher at the Cunniff Elementary School in Watertown. Her accomplishments include being a: Technology pioneer through the MetroLINC technology collaborative, a citizen ambassador to China, and later the Soviet Union and Hungary for the Program Fitness Delegation; and an Honor Award recipient of the Massachusetts Association of Health Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

According to her nominators, Holly exemplifies excellence by integrating academic content and physical education. “Making connections” are key ingredients to student learning, and Holly has developed a number of interesting ways to use exercise and physical education activities. By writing a grant, Holly was able to acquire heart monitors to use by students in her classes, which are used to learn about the correlation between exercise, fitness, and one’s heart. During the fall, Halloween is an exciting time for students; and Holly uses a life-sized skeleton with classes to begin the lessons on bones and skeletal systems. Posters and drawings decorate the gym walls, and the skeleton becomes the gym’s mascot.

A number of interesting ways to teach to use exercise and activities to teach balance and coordination are used in the context of such topics such as Black History Month. Holly devised an obstacle course for students to navigate, and these activities are linked to the Underground Railroad through labels and discussions of difficulties navigating terrain. 

Holly follows each student closely throughout the year, charting progress, areas of strength and those needing improvement. She has devised an elaborate and detailed reporting system that summarizes this information, which is made available to students and their parents. It is as if each child has his/her own personal trainer. As her nominators note, “It would be difficult to find a more dedicated teacher committed to serving the needs of all her children. She consistently goes above and beyond the scope of her job duties to provide the children of the Cunniff School with a fun, informative, and challenging Phys Ed program.” 

Mary Barrett, 1991

Mary Barrett, a third grade teacher at the John Eliot School in Needham, has been recognized for her role as an excellent educator and more recently her implementation of an integrated program of studies entitled “natural Wonders.”  The classroom program evolved out of a series of workshops at the New England Aquarium that explores concepts about water and its properties.  It incorporates basic skills with art, science, language arts, and music.  The program also develops critical thinking and problem solving skills. Mary served as one of the pilot teachers and she relates how from the first day that she started the varied water experiments and activities, both the children’s and her enthusiasm grew.  Soon the children were thinking like scientists, and the thinking skills they learned were being transferred to other areas. Mary has continued to change and enhance the program, which is now in its second year of implementation; and another group of children is benefiting from it. The project has also positively impacted other educators from Needham and other school systems who have observed Mary and have begun to use the materials.

Nominations by her peers include the following endorsements: “Mary is a creative, talented, generous educator who values sharing and revising teaching ideas and who continuously seeks opportunities for her students and herself to grow.  Her teaching is as fresh and innovative today as when she started teaching many years ago.

Carolyn Beadle, 2010

Carolyn Beadle is a first grade teacher at Alta Vista School in the Union School District in San Jose, CA.

“Why would more than a hundred students ever want to come to school early two times a week? The answer is simple,” states Cindy Loper, one of Carolyn’s nominators. “They choose to start their day by learning and singing classic holiday songs and other cultural classics as part of Alta Vista’s Glee Club. Carolyn has dedicated hundreds of hours researching, preparing, and teaching students songs that they would not hear, let alone learn and perform.”

In her first grade classroom, Carolyn focuses on literacy and uses poetry, songs, and games as channels for learning to read. Joy is apparent on her students’ faces, as they use rhyme and rhythm to read and reread a wide variety of poems or share “bad words,” (those that don’t follow the rules).  Carolyn encourages students to become members of the “1000 Minute Club,” a challenge to read a thousand minutes each month.  Parents are enlisted to read to their children as well.

Carolyn is the epitome of a teacher that goes the extra mile to serve her students, fellow teachers, and the community. “Organizer, planner, creator of wonderful events” are words often used to describe her.

  • She and two other teachers dedicate countless hours to direct the Glee Club for 3rd-5th graders without pay – the Glee Club perform two musicals a year. Carolyn has volunteered for over twenty years in this position. She is dedicated to equality and full inclusion by including Special Day students into the Glee Club.

  • Carolyn also directs a weekly singing for 1st and 2nd graders that perform a holiday program and sing-a-long with parents and grandparents.

  • She teaches ESL courses to adults in the evening through the East Side Adult Education program.

  • She supports almost every fund raiser and school associated event by working or donating her time and attendance.

  • She is a Co-leader for the school monthly Cougar Pride Assemblies where she leads the students in patriotic songs and the school theme song.

  • Carolyn is the cornerstone of the staff social committee who elegantly and beautifully plans and creates wonderful staff events and gifts.

  • During her teaching career, she has served her school district in many capacities, including the School Site Council, curriculum adoption and fine arts committees.  She has been a teacher leader and literacy trainer and a program reviewer for the West Valley Consortium.

Each student who learns in Carolyn’s classroom becomes “her child” forever.  For forty years, many keep coming back to visit, participate as volunteers, and invite her to participate in their life cycle events. Carolyn Beadle is the epitome of a teacher that goes the extra mile to serve her students, fellow teachers, and the community.

Bobbie Becka, 2005

Bobbie Becka, serves as Title 1 Writing Peer Facilitator at Travis Elementary School in the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District in Baytown, Texas. Carmen Moreno, a member of the Foundation Advisory Board, introduced Bobbie at the Educators Forum by saying: Isn’t it wonderful to hear a principal say, ‘Good teaching is fun to watch; great teaching is an honor to watch; but having the distinguished honor of watching Mrs. Bobbie Becka teach is like watching an accomplished artist interwoven with an expert scientist who brings learning to life.’ Brenda Gongora, Principal of William B. Travis Elementary School in the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District describes to us how Mrs. Bobbie Becka is the spark that ignites the flame that burns for the success of ALL students at Travis Elementary. She makes learning fun and magical.

Along with several of her colleagues, Mrs. Gongora refers to Mrs. Becka as a teacher who exudes passion for students, passion for learning, passion for teaching, and passion for writing. She is a caring and nurturing teacher who sets specific goals and doesn’t quit until they are accomplished. This is exemplified by the results of her actions when she wanted to create a writing club for struggling students and was told that federal funds had been cut and were not available for such a project. What did Mrs. Becka do to address this challenge?  She wrote a grant, received it, and began the “Kids Kan Write Club” for struggling writers. Today these students are the authors of the Travis newspaper using a variety of skills such as interviewing, writing, and editing. Students choose to join the club and miss their PE and/or Fine Arts class to attend this writing class. These most challenging students are actually attending a writing tutorial class and are not even aware of the learning that they are acquiring. She has created an environment where tutoring is fun. This in turn has yielded exemplary results in student achievement. For years she has had 100% passing on the writing TAAS test. The Texas Education Agency awarded Travis Elementary the Gold Star Performance for the Spring 2004 writing scores.

Highlights of her contribution as an educator, her second career, for the past 14 years include: Title 1 Peer Facilitator, provides support to new teachers, models exemplary lessons, assists with lesson planning, answers questions about the writing scope-and sequence, disaggregates data from TAKS benchmarks, district assessments, monitors the writing portfolios, for PK-5, provides materials for tutorials, tutors the neediest struggling students, plans and organizes “Writing Camps” for each grade level, provides parent workshops, and represents the campus at the district level writing curriculum and providing staff development for educators and parents.

Her colleagues refer to Bobbie as an asset to the campus, an honor to work with, and a teacher who raises the standard for teacher leadership.

Roberta (Bobbi) Benson, 2012

Roberta Benson is the Spanish and Lead Teacher at the Nixon School, Sudbury Public Schools, in Sudbury, MA. "To call Bobbi a “breath of fresh air” would be a cliché and an understatement. Upon walking into her Spanish class, you are immediately greeted by a woman whose colorful and chic fashion sense are only matched by her equally dynamic personality and teaching style. Standing in her classroom doorway, she greets all students by their “Spanish” names as they arrive for class, and the children know immediately how sincerely happy she is to see them.

As the Spanish teacher, Bobbi makes the language accessible to all students by teaching it in a variety of ways. She incorporates pictures, songs, and games into her lessons. In addition, Bobbi provides the students opportunities to gain appreciation for the history and culture of other countries. For example, fifth grade students create “sugar skulls” as part of their study of the “Day of the Dead.” When a few students were finding the whole class atmosphere challenging, Bobbi found the time to teach them in a small group. This helped them find greater success with the language, and over time they strengthened their self-confidence to rejoin their class in the larger group.

To watch Bobbi teach her Spanish class is inspiring. Always energetic, upbeat, and positive, her students quickly catch her enthusiasm for the material being taught. It is not uncommon for a classroom teacher to go pick up their students at the end of the lesson, and see the ENTIRE group singing enthusiastically about colors, clothing, or countries, while dancing or using dramatic hand movements. Melissa Morabito, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, notes, “As a colleague, I walk out of her room feeling motivated to bring that positive energy into my own teaching.”  One of her former students states: “If I had 71 Bobbi Bensonʼs teaching me over the years, I would have finished at the top of my class in every subject in every school. To me, that is the mark of an exceptional teacher: someone who inspires you to do your absolute best regardless of the situation or circumstances.” Bobbi inspires not only her students, but her colleagues as well.

As a Lead Teacher for Nixon School, Bobbi does whatever it takes to support both students and staff on a day to day basis. With her supportive manner, she helps students reflect on problems and learn from their experiences. The fifth grade team states, “When Bobbi is meeting with students for disciplinary issues in her lead teacher role, she is fair and honest, and the students respect her for that. They appreciate her ability to problem-solve in such a calm, consistent manner because it demonstrates that she really cares about them as a person.”

Bobbi steps up wherever she is needed. She checks in on new staff to see how itʼs going, works with the Assistant Principal to oversee student council activities during her free time, and volunteers her lunches to eat with students who benefit from positive adult attention. Bobbi is often seen at evening events to support the school, whether sheʼs volunteering at school concerts or calling numbers at Bingo Night. It's no wonder that the parents and staff unanimously recommended her to represent all that is great about their school at Nixonʼs 50th Anniversary Celebration. And it is no surprise to anyone who knows her that she is being honored for her “Excellence in Education.”

Bobbi is a supportive mentor, an inspiring colleague, a dynamic teacher, a caringfriend, and for some of us, that loving force when we need a “Momʼs touch. She has had tremendous impact on the entire Nixon community. The words of a Nixon student speak best for those who know Bobbi. When asked to describe Senora Benson, the student replied, “She’s like the rainbow, the bright part of your day.”

Katie and Steve Bethune, 2013

Katie Bethune, Grade 3 Teacher, Noddin School, and Steve Bethune, Grade 5 Teacher, Guadalupe School, Union School District in San Jose, CA are "dedicated teachers to the core, advocates for those who lack the language to have their voices heard.” Nominators of Katie and Steve unanimously agree that this husband-and-wife team truly personifies "excellence in education" as well as selfless service to the community.

Having lost a grandfather and a great-uncle to heart disease, Steve raised approximately $11,000 for the American Heart Association by running across the United States.  His story of setting challenges for himself while benefitting others inspires his students.  The purpose of the Heart in Motion program, which Steve runs at Guadalupe School, is to nurture youths' passion in serving the community.  He and his students have facilitated raising $1000 to send students at another school to Science Camp.  Steve models good health by running with students every morning before school begins.

In 2009, Katie and Steve had the opportunity to teach English in the small Mexican town of Sahuayo.  They were the first credentialed, American teachers employed in this town where they not only learned Spanish but also the customs and the way of life of the community.  Katie and Steve experienced first-hand the challenges faced by non-native speakers.

In part because of her own experiences in Mexico, Katie was inspired to provide support to the school's Latino community.  She, with the help of past Goldin Award recipient, Mary Avila, set out to implement the Latino Family Literacy Project, a parent-student based program that helps parents learn both English and strategies for taking part in their children's education and school activities. While parents are learning with Katie, Steve assists their children with homework and helps them build social and language skills.  At the end of the ten week program, parents present their children with scrapbooks they have created describing their own family history, their dreams for their children, and their hopes and expectations for the future.  The program is in its second year at Noddin; and in the fall of 2012, the same program was initiated at Lietz Elementary School with an equally positive outcome.  According to Noddin Elementary School Principal Robin Jones, "The community bonding and the learning of new skills nurtured a new found sense of empowerment.  As the skills of their parents grew, the students became more confident, engaged learners. This is one of the best things we have ever done."  

Katie and Steve's commitment to education and to their students truly extends beyond the classroom and well into the community.  

Nicole Brandl, 2012

Nicole Brandl has been a Grade 2 Teacher for eighteen years at the Baker School, Brookline Public Schools, in Brookline MA.  She has been called a “beacon in the educational community.” Nomination by her peers gives testimony to her skill and ability as a teacher and her dedication to her profession.  They note her tireless work on behalf of students, families, and colleagues. Nicole is recognized for her intelligence, energy, and the unconditional love she bestows on her students, no matter how long it has been since second grade.  

Joy Sacca Hennessey, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, states, “I have had the pleasure of knowing Nicole over much of her 18 year teaching career at Baker School and have been witness to the love and joy that abounds in her classroom, the smile with which she greets each child each day, and the deep and abiding connections she forms with students and families. 

Nicole settles the debate of whether teaching is an art or science by demonstrating that it is an art informed by science. Endorsements for Nicole’s candidacy are further testimony to this claim. In her nomination paper for Nicole, Melanie Sokol writes of her son’s experience in Nicole’s class, “There are good and bad years in the life of a quirky kid’s school experience. Nicole’s class was a shining star in the grade school galaxy”.  Nicole’s ability to provide this experience so consistently for so many children speaks to the magic of teaching; the art.   

But lest one think this is simply about magic, there is much science at work in this classroom.  Nicole’s earliest days of training at St. Michael’s College, her graduate work at Lesley University, and her continuing courses work are the underpinnings of a strong curriculum and solid pedagogy. Nicole’s classroom is informed by best practice and research.  She is admired not only for her pursuit of learning, but the willingness to use her learning to embrace change. Former Baker School Principal, Tom Cavanagh writes of Nicole during a time when the school was infused with a new multi -cultural population, that Nicole was a teacher leader who embraced change and saw it as an opportunity to expand and enlarge her instructional repertoire.  Her team colleague, Josh Howe, comments on this trait as well saying, “Nicole is able to see the benefits of changes beyond the initial struggles they may cause.”  Nicole’s work using “Response to Intervention” and Benchmark Assessments are two examples of her willingness to embrace new ideas and new learning.

Nicole’s accomplishments include continued efforts with the Child Case Study Team and her work with the Site Council. Her work in mentoring and supervising new teachers is also very important. This will ensure that her guidance of our youngest students on a path to joyous learning and discovery of their full potential will be passed on, that her legacy will continue.

Stephanie Brown, 2014

Stephanie Brown teaches third grade Language Arts at Newport Elementary School in Crosby, TX.   She began her teaching career at Timberwood Middle School in Humble ISD in 2002 and she was their Teach of the Year in 2005.  She came back to her hometown in 2010 and was awarded Newport Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2012. 

Stephanie is a Master Teacher who is a difference maker with students.  A teacher across the hall stated that “Stephanie has such passion for teaching and makes sure all of her students succeed.  In the morning, she greets every single student with a handshake and a positive remark to build their self-esteem.  She assumes that her student’s failures are hers.  She will not accept I can’t in her classroom, and she will work tirelessly to figure out the missing piece to the academic struggle that a student might have.”

Another teacher stated, “She uses data effectively and often to analyze her instruction.  She devotes her personal time to ensure students have access to additional instruction.  She meets with them before and after school, during lunch, and on her conference period.  Quite simply, she will do whatever it takes so that students can be successful.”

The Goldin Foundation recognized Stephanie because she is a difference maker, not only with students but with her fellow teachers!  A few years ago her department adopted the Balanced Literacy Program.  This required a change in teaching model for many teachers.  The shift would require going from whole group instruction to small group instruction.  People know that change does not come easy, and if it is not done correctly, change quickly resorts back to the “old way of doing things.”

What Stephanie did to accommodate this change in instruction would provide a blueprint for any administrator interested in implementing a change in their curriculum.   First, Stephanie made presentations at District Staff Developments, giving teachers the knowledge to begin to implement the idea.  Then, on her own initiative, she facilitated follow-up sessions once a week before school in her classroom for any teacher that wanted to attend.  The meetings were focused on her techniques for small groups and everyone was welcome to share their ideas.  Then, Stephanie volunteered to have teachers observe her in action with her students.  Finally, teachers asked Stephanie to observe them, and provide feedback on what they were doing. 

Stephanie realized that for Balanced Literacy to take hold, it would require a fulltime, year round commitment.  Stephanie also knew it was not enough to just tell someone how to present the program they needed to see it in action.   They needed to perform the task, while getting feedback on how they were doing.  Mrs. Brown took the process by which she teaches her students every day and applied them to her work with her colleagues.  She, on her own initiative, took ownership of the program, mentored her colleagues, and selflessly gave of her time and talents.  One teacher state that she never heard Mrs. Brown say, “As soon as I finish this I will help you”.  She would postpone her to do list in order to go the extra mile for someone else. 

All of the teachers who nominated Stephanie stated without her dedication, expertise, and devotions, this program would not have been successfully implemented.  She truly is a difference maker with the students and staff. 

Sandra Burns, 2016

Sandra Burns is the Behavior Interventionist at Copeland Elementary in Cy-Fair ISD, Houston TX area. She has implemented the Action Learning Lab that focuses on increasing student achievement and decreasing discipline referrals.  She is a certified Action Learning Specialist who collaborates with all teachers, students, and parents on the campus and in the community. 

The Action Learning Lab’s success is determined by brain based research, data collection, and testimonials from teachers, students, and parents.    Students come to the lab and follow a station rotation incorporating whole brain activities and content curriculum.  The lab stations are purposeful and precise in tapping into each quadrant of the brain to increase recall and retention.  Research shows that what makes us move helps us learn.  Movement and learning are catalyst in increasing student engagement and achievement, and the Action Learning Lab provides this necessary movement.

When children go to the lab, they can rotate through stations that contain brain based exercises.  These exercises help the students release some energy, so they can return to the classroom ready to learn and successfully focus on their lessons.   Teachers, administrators and parents have seen huge differences in the classroom learning results.  Most notable, the students themselves see and realize what a difference the learning lab makes for them.  When asked why he likes to come to the lab, a fifth grader responded, “It makes me feel smart.  I wake up my brain and I can learn better.”

Teachers nominating Sandra say, “She exemplifies excellence and impacts our entire student body, staff, and community as a positive role model for our young children.”   “She believes in building self-esteem in each student and tapping into their individual strengths.”  This quote by an unknown author sums up Sandra.  “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader…they set out to make a difference.  It’s never about the role-always about the goal.”  “Sandra is a difference maker.”

Sharon Burr, 2004

As the Early Literacy Specialist at the Estabrook School in Lexington, MA, Mrs. Burr dedicates herself to ensuring all children in kindergarten and grade 1 acquire a strong foundation in reading and writing.  Principal Joni Jay writes that “Mrs. Burr takes personal responsibility for turning discouraged, less advantaged, and struggling children into competent readers who love reading.”  She does this through a strong commitment to early intervention, intensive instruction, and above all, the desire to reach each individual.  In the words of Ms. Jay, Mrs. Burr “never entertains the idea that a child won’t learn to read; she simply believes that it can and will happen – and it does.”

According to her nominators, Sharon is an amazing teacher who is treasured by students, colleagues and parents alike.  Through close to 40 years of teaching, she has touched many lives and inspired myriads of children to love reading and become lifelong learners.  She has guided primary teachers in reading instruction, and has engaged parents in supporting their child’s academic development.  According nominator, Principal Joni Jay, Sharon’s “dedication and passion have made the difference in the lives of children each year.”     

Initially a classroom teacher, Mrs. Burr was drawn to the intensive Reading Recovery model about ten years ago, and has worked with struggling readers since then.  First grade teacher, Nancy Wilson states that “The choice to move from the classroom to become a Reading Recovery teacher and then to move to her current role as an Early Literacy Educator are testaments to Sharon’s commitment to be a life long learner herself.” 

The power of Mrs. Burr’s teaching derives from her high expectations.  Principal Jay describes a third grade boy with serious cognitive and behavioral difficulties who could not read.  In her words, “Mrs. Burr spoke to his heart, talking about the importance of reading in his life, promising to teach him but requiring his commitment to learning…Many contributed to this child’s turn-around, but it wouldn’t have happened if Mrs. Burr hadn’t provided the key to reading.”   First grade teacher, Betty Ray comments that “Every year there is at least one student from my classroom whose quality of life is improved through working with Sharon.”

One can only imagine the focus and energy of Mrs. Burr’s class.  Principal Jay describes that “when a child enters Mrs. Burr’s cubby, he or she begins an intensive 30 minutes in which every second is used to learn reading.”   Mrs. Burr works with students before school starts, while they are at after school care, and even on the lunch line in the cafeteria!  She works long hours preparing individualized materials for each students’ lesson and makes sure everyone takes home “just right” books to practice reading at night.

Sharon Burr’s impact as an educator is not limited to her work with children.  As a Literacy Educator she models and co-teaches developmentally appropriate lessons for all students in the kindergarten classes.  In Principal Jay’s words, “Mrs. Burr is a catalyst for teacher development.”  Over  the years she has offered workshops and consultations to her colleagues.  Betty Ray comments that “Sharon is always willing to confer regarding any children, not just the struggling readers.  We have had numerous discussions regarding how to challenge and enrich the accomplished readers.”  Reading Specialist, Sally Springer-Kotelnikov, writes “one specific change that has resulted from her leadership is the change in kindergartens from play-centered to literacy-centered raising our lowest kindergarten students’ literacy skills.”

In the nomination materials, an unnamed parent states, “Mrs. Burr’s program is simply outstanding.  She provides children with a firm foundation and encourages work habits that will help them succeed for years after…”  Principal Jay strongly echoes that sentiment.  Mrs. Burr’s “continuous improvement, focus on student achievement, and work ethic play a major role in establishing a culture of excellence for the school and district.”  Mrs. Sharon Burr is truly a model of Excellence in Teaching.

Rebecca Butler, 2016

Rebecca Butler, School Counselor at Crosby Kindergarten Center in Crosby, Texas, has had a tremendous influence in shaping Crosby Kindergarten’s campus culture and in their student’s development. Her nominators note that Rebecca “makes coming to school the best part of many students’ day.”  She is a caring, energetic person who makes a difference by interpersonal relationships with students, and character education lessons that are changing the climate of the school

Some highlights of her success include:

  • Character Education Program that highlights positive caring interaction with others

  • A lunch Club where she makes it a goal to meet every student in a small, informal group setting This allows the student to personally interact with the counselor and get to know who her, so when they have a need or a crisis, she is there to help and they don’t feel intimidated.

  • The Back Pack Buddy Program that helps students by providing food or school supplies throughout the year for students in need of assistance

  • Community Service Projects that help students in need

  • Consultation with parents and teachers to improve student performance

  • Works as the 504 At-Risk Coordinator

Rebecca states that, “Becoming a school counselor has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”  For others, she has become the “heartbeat of the school.”

Pauline Carey, Bethany Sager, and Susan Woodman, 2002 

Currently, Bethany Sager and Susan Woodman are fifth grade classroom teachers at the Dale Street School, while Pauline Carey teaches Health  and Physical Education classes at the fourth and fifth grade levels.  The women were honored as a team for their leadership work in establishing a model social competency program at the school.  

Although the Dale Street School had had an ongoing, social competency curriculum in place since 1990, many teachers felt the curriculum was no longer relevant to needs of the students. When the team approached their principal, Mr.Dick DeYoung, with a proposal for redesigning the social competency program, they received his wholehearted support. Mr.DeYoung, along with many other educators, had been concerned with the rise of teasing and bullying incidents in our schools. Determined to make Dale Street a safe, comfortable place to learn, he funded the team with a research and development  summer project.

Throughout the summer of 1998, the team of Sager, Woodman, and Carey, worked to redesign the curriculum as well as develop new teacher’s manuals, student lesson plans, and teaching activities.     

In the fall of 1998, the team provided professional training  and modeling in the use of the new curriculum for the classroom teachers at Dale Street School. Because parents and students were to have a home role, the team presented the new curriculum to parents’ groups and held a school-wide assembly to launch their new program. The entire school created the “ Dale Street Compact,” which hangs on the wall at the school’s entrance, and began a year long series of learning activities to develop an in-depth understanding of the concepts of honesty, friendship, love, respect, diligence, patience, and empathy, all words used in the contract.  

Mr.DeYoung credits the program developed by the team for “making a difference in the climate and culture of the school.”  He feels that the lessons taught in the Character Education program are ” life lessons that carry over into every activity in the classroom and also at home.”

Cary, Sager, and Woodman,  experienced educators, know that the program needs monitoring and modifying to remain interesting and challenging for the students and staff ,so they have developed student and staff surveys to document the strengths of the program and help in planning ongoing additions and changes.
In recent years, the team has added a character education library for teachers at the school.  It also has added "CharacterCorner" to the schools news letter. They have brought in guest speakers to increase the awareness of the value of character education in the schools, and they continue to strive to improve (and now maintain) their school climate.

The thoroughness and commitment of the team in designing and implementing the program were verified in letters of nomination and endorsement by Medfield administrators and teachers who felt Pauline Carey, Bethany Sager, and Susan Woodman were outstanding candidates for the Goldin Foundation “ Excellence in Education” award.

Ginny Carroll, 2009

“A legendary teacher, a legendary trainer of teachers, and a legendary colleague, one who combines the energy of a novice teacher with the knowledge and experience of a thirty plus year veteran,” note her nominators. Ginny Carroll is a Grade 3 Teacher at the Pierce School in Brookline, MA. 


When a student walks into Ginny’s room, that student knows Ginny will care for him or her. If there’s a child who’s struggling, she will figure out why and what needs to be done.  If a student is advanced in a subject area, she’ll provide opportunities for enrichment. No one slips through the cracks.  Ginny sees the whole student, making sure that every aspect of a child’s life is in place so that he or she is ready to learn. She creates a classroom of joy where students respect each other, learn from one another, and support each other’s learning. One parent notes that her “amazing sense of humor, ability to lovingly tease and spark students into action allow her to move mountains.”


A great example of how Ginny enriches her third grade students, the whole school, and broader community is the annual Christmas project she leads for the men at The Shattuck Shelter/ Hope Found. For twenty-six years the Pierce School family collects and distributes toiletries to spread holiday cheer.   Students learn many math lessons and life lessons. Pipier Smith-Mumford,Principal, notes,  “Each year, third graders learn about homelessness, make announcements about the annual drive, collect from every classroom and office, sort items, wrap them in holiday decorations, and pack them for delivery.  Students feel a sense of pride and good cheer for thinking of those less fortunate than themselves.”


Ginny sweeps up her students in a mixture of positive energy, competence, discipline, and playfulness.  She holds children’s attention while keeping them focused on the essential lesson that needs to be learned. A poem by one of Ginny’s former students, Molly MacVeagh, which is written directly on a dinner plate and sits in Ginny’s classroom, speaks humorously to high expectations.


                Picky as a piece of pot roast baking in the oven

                Never getting the meat inside just right

                Always finding a mistake

                Just when the student has been working her hardest

                She’s the punctuation perfect master

                Sucking up asterisks and periods as if they were

                Scrumptious pieces of chocolate.

                Personally if I had to cut a piece of punctuation pie

                I would puke….she loves it….I hate it.

                We’ll never be the same with the dreaded punctuation!


Ginny creates a true partnership with families that goes beyond the classroom and the school day.  It involves supporting parents to help children better deal with social and emotional issues. It’s celebrating special events with her students, attending soccer games, theater performances, and Bat Mitzvah. To foster a love of reading in the community, Ginny helps direct book groups each year for students, parents, and teachers.


Ginny dedicates herself to the future of the teaching profession. She mentors new teachers, and she trains numerous educators through the Wheelock Learning and Teaching Collaborative for whom she provides weekly seminars. One student teacher comments, ”I have had the best kind of teaching experience working with Ginny.  She has supported me, challenged me, believed in me, and given me the practical knowledge that will serve me well in any school community.” 


Deane Coady, 2014

How do you take an elementary school with more than 600 students and still have a feeling of community?  You start a school garden and give each grade level a raised bed to plant.  Four years ago, Deane Coady, a Grade 2 Teacher at Claypit Hill School in Wayland. MA,   had a vision to have organic gardens at her school that she would begin with her 2nd grade class. Although she submitted a grant proposal that was not initially funded, Deane set out to find alternative sources: in-kind labor and materials and support from community leaders, parents, friends, and local businesses.  In time she did receive some grants that led to multiple planting beds and two large composting bins that use compost that produce a healthy variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers.  Other grades are now involved, too, as well as people from the broader community including Scouts, high school students, and parents.  The project will be replicated   at Happy Hollow School.

Principal Debbie Bearse commented, “When parents learn Deane will be their child’s 2nd grade teacher, they recognize that their child will not only learn a sold 2nd grade curriculum, but they will also learn a lot about the environment, planting, harvesting, healthy lifestyle, and the importance of community service.

Here are some highlights of this extended learning experience:

April 2013: Teachers and Boston resident students stayed after school to prepare the gardens for spring and summer planting.

May-June 2013: All grades participated in planting vegetables from seeds or seedlings, herbs, fruits and flowers.   Molly Faulkner of the Wayland Green Team harvested a salad of greens and made a crustless greens pie to serve in the teachers’ lounge.  Deane and Molly taught a 6 week afternoon Garden Club. A 275 gallon tote was delivered to collect rainwater.

Summer 2013: More than 10 Claypit Hill families signed up to take care of the gardens over the summer.  Vegetables and herbs were harvested each week and delivered to local food pantries.

Sept-Oct 2013:  Students from 15 classrooms toured the gardens, and inhabited the sunflower house (sunflowers grow very tall to the children’s amazement).  Students were served salad made with greens, carrots, peppers, and broccoli, and they tried the husk cherries during lunch.

Nov-Dec. 2013: As part of the community service program, “Claypit Cares,” 3 classrooms helped to harvest collards, Swiss chard, and flowers that were added to the canned goods and produce for delivery to area shelters.

Beth Altcheck, Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, noted, “It sounds so simple, and yet, when I met with Deane Coady in her sun filled classroom, she held her thumb and finger about an inch apart and said, “Teachers have about this much time.” There are so many mandates, so it is particularly hard in today’s teaching climate to stay on the sunny side of the street, and that’s where you need to be if you are going to start a school wide garden and a school wide composting system.  These are the “extras” of the job, not the have-to’s.  But they are often the things that provide joy and excitement, comfort, and unity within a school and a community.”  Luckily, Deane has kept herself in the sun, and taken a lot of her colleagues and students with her.  She easily mentions the benefits of having gardens at school.  One is that a child having a rough day can be brought there to be soothed among the plants.  Another is watching children at recess voluntarily visiting the garden, or observing their wonder when they taste lemon grass, stevia, and varieties of mint.  We know everyone benefits from having a pleasant outdoor space and being more connected to nature.  Children will not learn to be stewards of the earth if they are not taught the value of what it offers.

Carol Colvin, 2010

Carol is a music teacher at the Stephen F. Austin Elementary School in Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District in Baytown, Texas  She received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Sam Houston State University in 198. And she has been with Goose Creek CISD for 25 years.

Her nominators offer enthusiastic words about Carol: “Carol doesn’t only teach music, she teaches life skills.  She instills traits such as always doing your best, teamwork, ambition, a good work ethic, and positive self image.  She has an uncanny ability to connect with students from all walks of life and all levels of talent and intellect.”  “Through her innovative and exciting methods, Carol inspires her students to love music and to love performing. Carol builds a foundation for her students and prepares them for whatever path they choose to pursue, band, choir, orchestra. Many of her students have excelled as they moved up to middle school and high school, and quite a few have chose music as a profession due to Carol’s mentoring.”

Carol notes that she has based her philosophy of music education on Kodaly’s approach: “teach music and singing at school in such a way that it is not a torture but a joy for the pupil.  Instill a thirst for finer music in him, a thirst which will last for a lifetime.”  Carol follows through. She comments, “Through music students tap into the emotional side of themselves.  They learn to sing and play together as well as individually.  Music gives them an outlet in a very stressful school environment.  Music should be taught for its beauty.  Students should have the opportunity to read and write music.  It is also a way in which students learn about cultural differences through songs and folk dances.  It helps with reading and math tests as well as social studies and science.”

In addition to her thirty music classes. Carol has an auditioned choir made up of 4th and 5th grade students who meet with her 2-3 times a week before school. These students present programs for their school and district, participate in fundraising events, and give of themselves by singing for community organizations in Baytown. Additionally, Carol has involved her students in state and national music events. One of her students auditioned for and was selected for the children’s choir for the National Convention of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators; several students were selected for the children’s choir for the Texas Choral Director Association convention; and Carol’s choirs have participated in the East Texas Children’s Choir Festival in Huntsville.

Rhonda Conaway and Jennifer D’Antonio, 1998

Rhonda Conaway , Fourth Grade Teacher, and Jennifer D’Antonio, Guidance Counselor, serve at the Johnson Elementary School in Natick, MA.  They were nominated for recognizing a problem with the Fourth Grade Class of ’97 and coming up with a solution.  It seems that these fifty-five students, although wonderful individually, were a fragmented group and had tremendous difficulty in getting along. An inordinate amount of time was spent on their problems as opposed to the curriculum.  Jennifer and Rhonda must have been aware of the famous quote that says, “Music hath the charm to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak,’ because these women got together and wrote a musical based on a theme of self esteem.  From January to June, they engaged these seemingly difficult students in taking ownership of a major production that profoundly touched them, their parents, and the entire school community at large. Each child was given the opportunity to choose what part of the musical he/she would like to work on.  They could sign a solo, recite a poem, work on the set, help out with the sound system, etc.  There were no try-outs based on talent.  If a child decided he wanted to sing a solo, that was his choice.  The only requirement was that he give it his best effort.

Sing for Life, Sing for Love was a remarkable performance, which was attended by more than five hundred people. “There was not a dry eye in the place,” notes Kevin Crowley, Principal.  “”We smiled as we saw groups of five or six children working on their banner which proclaimed RESPECT FOR ALL. We grinned while observing the children pile into the 4th grade room and spend forty minutes rehearsing one of their twelve songs.   Our chests puffed with pride as we overheard the children talking excitedly on the playground about how ‘cool’ the musical was.  We were astounded by the effect this program had on the overall climate and culture of out school.  We, right along with the childe, learned to appreciate the different talents each of these students had to offer.  We wept as we listened to the children finish the last number, which happened to be Lean on Me. They had indeed learned how to lean on one another.” The children were now connected in ways not thought possible.  Not only did they feel proud of themselves and their individual achievements, they felt proud of each other. A classroom teacher comments,” I am reaping the benefits of the chorus experience everyday when I hear how respectful my students are to one another.  I see it when they speak clearly when sharing an answer, when they make eye contact when speaking, and when they stand tall and proud.”

 The program expanded the next year to include the 3rd Grade.  The chorus/musical group now numbers eighty-three children, and they have performed in senior centers, day care centers, and even at the town hall for all municipal employees. Throughout the letters of support for their nomination from their students’ parents, their principal, and colleagues, the words “patient, dedicated, supportive, encouraging, thoughtful, nurturing, and creative” are repeated over and over again.

Laura Coor, 2007  

Laura Coor is a Grade 4 Teacher at Noddin Elementary School in the Union School District, in the Silicon Valley, CA region.

“Laura Coor builds confidence in students and their parents in a magical and genuine way that improves the self-esteem of students as well as the relationship between students and their parents,” state her nominators which include colleagues, parents, and even students.  “She is tireless in finding early interventions to help students better themselves.  She is empathetic and caring yet does not coddle her students. Instead, Laura tailors the learning experience for each student’s academic and social needs.  When one enters her classroom, it is evident that a multitude of learning styles are being addressed.  Each student is engaged in active learning with abundant hands-on opportunities.”

Laura strives to build self-confidence in the classroom and school community. She sees the special qualities in students that one might not readily see, and then offers leadership opportunities to them such as student council, peer tutors, peace builders and conflict managers.  Laura takes a global approach to teaching by involving the many cultures of her students, highlighting their cultural backgrounds by weaving diversity in the classroom standards she is teaching. 

One of Laura’s initiatives is an after school project for English Language Learners who come from a variety of language backgrounds. To prepare for the program that started last year, Laura conducted research, analyzed the findings, and implemented a program that specifically met the needs of her students.  The program, which meets one hour twice weekly, focuses on intensive vocabulary building exercises and conversational style writing with an emphasis on comprehension.  This is done while pre-teaching core 4th grade concepts.  Children’s confidence is recognizable in the classroom the very next day.  A vital home-school connection is forged through the multiple mini conferences that Laura has with parents as they pick up their children from school.  Students’ efforts are praised in front of their parents;  parents become encouraged, gain confidence, and even attend more school events.  Students  begin to speak more and open up to others , all of which leads to increased self esteem and improved and elevated standing with their peers.

Laura continuously creates new ideas for teaching, which are shared with her school community.  One example is a collaboration with the feeder high school’s Astronomy Club, which leads groups for Noddin’s Star Gazing Night.  During this event, high power telescopes are brought in to view planets and constellations.  Activity stations allow students and their parents to learn about the rotation of the sun, constellations, and planets.

A few quotes from her students: “Although there are many great teachers at Noddin, I think you are the best teacher of them all for three reasons.  First of all you have a very nice voice (When you said something and someone was talking, you didn’t have to raise your voice.).  Next, you are tall and funny.  When you see someone who is sad, you just go to them and talk for and minute, then they become happy.  Finally you are nice to everyone in Room 15.  When somebody needs help, you go to them and say, “What do you need help on?”

“I feel Mrs. Coor is really awesome because she is kind, caring and understanding.  When you are in her class you can go to her and talk about anything, and she listens.  She taught me the meaning of word ‘perseverance, when I was struggling with math.  Not only is Mrs. Coor a shining star teacher, but she makes her students want to be shining stars too.”

Ginny Croft, 2005

“Music feeds our souls as well as our intellects.” Ginny Croft, Band Director at Lovett Elementary School in Houston, has stated that she has wanted to be a part of the excitement of passing on this wonderful thing called “music” to the next generation.  She is committed both to the personal and musical growth of children.  She goes above and beyond by following both the musical and academic achievements of former students long after they have left elementary school. Her unending efforts are recognized and appreciated by the hundreds of lives she has touched and changed.

Ginny initiated the current Lovett Concert Band Program thirty-three years ago as a volunteer mother. She displays tremendous organization and patience with a large and diverse student population. Taking young children from all backgrounds and in a short time, she  forms several very cohesive groups of performers. Ginny begins teaching students as young as six to set high but attainable goals. Once they master a song, the little ones are given stickers which clears them to play  that song at performances. They have various steps to prepare for making it all the way to the top Concert Band, when they proudly receive their “Blue Folders” and are fitted for a performance vests.

The Concert Band has students in grades 3-5, who enter to find the seating chart posted on the wall, the list of numbers to be rehearsed, on the chalkboard, and the warm-up scale to be played. They understand the messages of the music they are mastering, which brightens the learning experience.   They have fought the Battle of Borodino from Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” lumbered along with elephants in Ippolotov-Ivanoff’s “Procession of the Sardar,” walked gingerly atop imaginary fences in Edmondson’s “Jazz Cat,” and grieved with Beethoven upon his deepening deafness in the “Pathetique Sonata.” This Concert Band has received many awards and accolades.  A few examples: they now hold 19 years of "First Ratings"  in Houston and across Texas; they won “Best in Class” in numerous performances; in 1996 they became the first elementary band to perform at the Magic Kingdom at Disney and were asked again in 2004. Ginny adds a note in 2011: The walls above the ramp to the Band Room in the new school building now contain the photos of all past Bands, and current students must pass beneath them in silence to honor those who have built and maintained our excellence for 32 years. The existence of the 'Silent Hall ' also seems to comfort our former students, knowing that they still have a presence here, even within a beautiful new structure.

Ginny stresses the interrelationship of all learning. There is a natural ripple effect as the sense of ownership and responsibility and hard work are carried over into students’ classwork and homework. There are connections to the broader community as well, who quickly becomes aware of a highly positive example of  public school children in action. In turn, the students are exposed to the many resources within Houston.  The groups continue to play yearly for community groups.  They have performed at the Westbury Community Fair, the Zoo, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Individual students are also encouraged to perform, and Ginny has prepared them for special community events such as “Little Miss Fiestas Patrias,” various Black History Month celebrations, and scouts, church, and civic groups. Each child is made to view him or herself as a valuable musical resource and is rewarded for these voluntary service opportunities with a uniform patch that reads “Lovett Elementary Volunteer Musician.”  You can imagine the children’s pride, self esteem, and potential involvement as involved citizens in the community.

Nominators note, “Ginny students learn from her respect, patience, and a sense of accountability, which are applied to their community and world. Ginny takes her profession very seriously and see herself involved in the larger role of evolving the minds of the future through music education, hard work, and practice.  Her skills for demystifying complex concepts and explaining musical concepts using interesting and identifiable examples makes a big difference to her students.  Through her countless hours of working with individuals and groups of students, she has gained the respect of parents, students and her colleagues.

CCora Cora Crowe, 1999

Cora Crowe, Fifth Grade Teacher at the John Eliot School in Needham, is considered by her peers as the epitome of dedication.  For over four decades she has been committed to the welfare and well-being of her students.  Her passion for teaching and learning is evident in her belief that “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Her classroom is a place where challenges abound and are embraced, whether it be “Performing Picasso,” a regional TEC Talents Unlimited Program; helping the needy people in her community; researching ecological issues; or composing pieces of music to accompany artwork.  A colleague describes Cora as “instilling enthusiasm, inspiring ambition, and infusing knowledge...all done with great love, boundless humility, and energy. “

Cora creates a safe environment where risk taking is encouraged and respect, kindness and cooperation is abundant. Her exuberant, passionate teaching style generates a high energy atmosphere in which her students flourish and each and every student is given a strong sense of unity without losing his or her individuality.  For Cora, each child has the potential to be someone great, and this is the message one can hear, feel  and believe when entering her room or working beside her. “ Cora teaches her students emotionally; she knows her students”, comments a colleague.  “She knows who will walk through that door and need a compliment, a high-five, a laugh, a hug.  She makes sure she asks Johnny about his important event, Lisa about her new baby sister, and Karen about her piano lesson..” Evidence of her impact is seen when so many of her former students come back to visit her, some of them now parents with children of their own.  It is her spirit, her eternal youth, her vivaciousness, her élan, her believing in the goodness of people and her ability to reach all students, especially those with problems of any kind.

A life long learner, Cora is open to new ideas and continues to  takes courses to broaden her vast repertoire of teaching methods.  She is a firm believer in finding out what each new child and each new class needs.  Her dedication is demonstrated daily by her “working hours,” leaving at

10:00 P.M. on most days, giving herself time or reflection and meticulous planning.  She is a mentor to new teachers.  She serves on Needham’s Staff Development Committee and has participated for many years as Teacher Representative to the Parent Teachers Council.

Kathryn D'Addesio, 2004

“An accomplished and masterful classroom teacher, a dedicated professional, a teacher of teachers” are some of the many descriptions of Kathy D’Addesio used by teachers, principal, superintendent, and parent nominators. They note, “Kathy combines compassion for children with passion for teaching on a daily basis. She inspires creativity in her students because she is creative.  Whether she is researching and implementing innovative ideas such as Brain Gym or planning a unit on Insects that culminates in costumed presentations for parents, she is constantly seeking strategies to create excited learners.  She motivates reluctant students because she gives them confidence. She stretches the more able student to perform at exceptionally high levels.  She encourages hard work and effort because her expectations and support levels are high.”

Throughout her long career in the Needham schools, Kathy incorporates the latest research on effective instruction. Her classroom seems not to be just about skills and methods. When one visits her classroom, one observes a seamless series of activities: one activity involves teams of students who are fully engaged in collaboration, critical thinking and creative problem solving; another activity has some students working independently and others in small groups, while Kathy is working with an individual student.  Her principal noted that “her lessons are structured in such a way that children are moved quickly through a progression from concrete to abstract thinking.”  This is done across subject areas, be it appreciating literature, participating in creative writing, or brainstorming geometry concepts. All assignments and projects have meaning and purpose.  Kathy strives to give her students advanced organizational skills, which can be used for school and life.

Kathy has served as a teacher leader, coordinator of the Needham’s staff development program, and leader of its Professional Growth Committee.  She is also a Needham Town Meeting member, a past board member of the Needham Educational Foundation and Adult Education program. Sharing her knowledge with colleagues, prospective teachers, and teachers in other school systems, Kathy has led workshops on critical thinking skills, creative problem solving, assessment, gifted and talented programs, and learning styles. Her role in designing system-wide professional development programs is noted for her championing on-site graduate courses, workshops, seminars and mentoring opportunities.  She has been instrumental in recommending programs which keep Needham staff current about educational issues and instructional strategies, setting up staff development proposals that are open to all staff to encourage group, site based, and individual professional growth.

Other accomplishments include writing curriculum for computers, co-writing Chips and Chips, A Byte More, which is an extensive teacher instructional packet and student workbook, a model program requested by many school systems, and author of Differentiating Learning Activities for Gifted and Talented.  Kathy has represented Needham Public Schools as a member of an educational group to the Ukraine to promote global education and as one of eight delegates on a study and fact finding trip to Japan, which led to future school relationships and student and teacher exchanges.

 Kathy exudes great energy, focus, and professional commitment. It is for a lifetime of dedication to the art of teaching and the advancement of education that Kathy D’Addesio is a recipient of the Goldin Foundation Award for Excellence in Education.

 Eleanor Demont2003

Eleanor Demont is a 5th Grade Teacher at the Heath School in Brookline, MA. Her nominators describe her “tremendous knowledge about teaching and learning, passion for her work, love of children, and professionalism.

At the core of Eleanor’s beliefs is that each and every child has the potential to learn and achieve at high levels and that she can empower them. In a co-taught class where typically developing children and children on the Pervasive Developmental Delay/Autism spectrum are fully integrated, all of “her” children develop and achieve at high levels; they are not separated or labeled.  Principal Mildred Katzman recounts a visit to Eleanor’s class when one group of children was working with Eleanor on the rug while another group was independently solving story problems. “The problems were in packets, so that Eleanor could match the level of difficulty to the needs of the children. Children were totally unaware that some had the basic story problems from the workbook, while others had problems that Eleanor created to challenge several children who were very gifted in math, including several with special needs.”  This is “differentiated instruction” at its very best.

Passion for learning is evident in Eleanor’s classroom.  A recent observation to her class witnessed groups of students were engaged in analyzing and categorizing trash that had been collected from the school property as part of a Conservation unit. They eagerly participated in the task, which involved problem solving as they discussed the contents according to a rubric they had formulated of the types, age, and condition of the trash. Students have noted that hard work and learning is fun when one has Ms. Demont as a teacher. “She makes us work.”  “She uses humor.”  “We laugh while we work hard.” “Her enthusiasm makes us enthusiastic.”  “We feel the burn, but she pushes us through it.

Nominators note that Eleanor is a trusted mentor, valuable resource, and wonderful friend. She enjoys collaboration and is open to new ideas and strategies. Carol Daddazio states, “ She is always ready to listen and she has insight and wonderful suggestions.  She has helped me become a better educator by problem solving with me, by giving me articles to read, by modeling best practices, and being an exemplar of professionalism.”  With two colleagues, Eleanor designed an induction program for K-8 teachers throughout the school system that includes the mentor program, an orientation, a new teacher handbook, seminar series obtained through competitive grants, and other supports.

Eleanor extends her teaching to others.  For many years she has been interested in mathematics and has taught math education to graduates students at Wheelock College.  She was instrumental in starting Heath School’s Sunrise Seminars, a monthly early morning group of teachers who discuss math strategies and instruction.  To help parents better understand the math program in Brookline, Eleanor initiated a Parent Math Breakfast and a Family Math Night for children in K-3 and their parents.  The latter event has been so successful that parents and administrators from other school systems are interested in replicating it.  Eleanor also serves as co-coach of the 5th and 6th grade Math League at Heath, with the number of students increasing every year.

Eleanor’s passions for her students, teaching, and professionalism are palpable and contagious.  She serves as a source of inspiration to both children and adults.

Patricia Diamond, 2009

Patricia Diamond is a Music Teacher at the Elmwood Elementary School in Hopkinton, MA. Her students provide insight about their teacher.  For example, Amanda notes, “Mrs. Diamond is patient with people if it takes them a little while to learn something new.”  Ben shares that “she makes me proud of myself.”   Quinn says, “Mrs. Diamond has taught me about music but also about being a good person and following the Gold Rule.”  From Lynne Auslander, a parent of one of Patricia Diamond’s students who was a little shy about playing guitar for his audition for the Elmwood School’s orchestra, “He believed he could do it because she believed in him.”


Pat Diamond is a music teacher and a great deal more.  Responsible for the music education of the five hundred eighteen students attending Elmwood School, Pat meets each class once a week for forty minutes.  Once a week is not a lot of time to teach all these students about Beethoven, playing the xylophone, clapping in rhythm, and singing with all your heart.  It would seem only logical that it would take a lot more time to teach children to believe in themselves, to forgive others, and understand the role patience plays in our own learning.  That is, unless you are Pat Diamond.


Pat Diamond has been teaching music and a whole lot more for nine years at Elmwood School.  She has also shared her magic in New Jersey and Indiana.  A practicing musician, Patricia Diamond is a violinist with the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra.  These puzzle pieces of her biography do not, however, show you the entire picture. 


Inside the classroom, inside those forty minutes, Patricia Diamond models her belief that every student can learn.  A child with autism who cannot read is comfortably partnered with a classmate, able to watch and learn, and eventually play the recorder. She works with other teachers to incorporate movement and music with academic content.  Christine Basile, a member of the Elwood Faculty Ringers and health and physical education teacher, notes, “In her classes and rehearsals one feels strongly that what you do and how you do it matters.  Because every note is important to Mrs. Diamond whether it is an eighth note or a whole note, a B flat or an F sharp. Every note, like every student, matters.”


Outside the classroom, Pat demonstrates her belief in life long learning as a graduate student in music education at Gordon College.  She encourages students who take music lessons outside of school to participate in the Elmwood Orchestra, holding rehearsals during her lunch period.  Known affectionately as Maestro or Director Diamond, Pat fosters school spirit in many important ways.  From writing the school song to forming a hand bell choir with fellow teachers and students, Pat’s commitment to music and to Elmwood is more than admirable.  Principal Ilene Silver sings Patricia’s praises, “Pat is both passionate and knowledgeable about music, music education, her practice of teaching, and the students for whom she is responsible."

Angie DiNapoli, 1998

 Angie DiNapoli is a  retired Needham teacher with experience in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. While teaching 5th grade , she was nominated as a "gifted teacher who embodies excellence in all of her interactions with children and adults. She is an outstanding example of what a teacher must be if the United States is to be tops in science and technology in the next century," states her nominators.

Angie is commended for her work in curriculum development, particularly her space simulation program, "The Astro Saucer," which has been institutionalized in Needham, with all fifth graders participating in the units and lessons she created. DiNapoli developed the program after attending a NASA summer program for exceptional educators in 1991.

Past Science Center Directors Larry White and Dan DeWolfe praised DiNapoli for involving students in hands-on experiments and cooperative activities long before it became fashionable. Angie was previously science curriculum facilitator for Needham and continues to  develop additional interdisciplinary science units to prepare students for the MCAS Science and Technology tests. She offers Science enrichment courses for children.  She has also taught courses at local universities and presented her ideas at national conferences. Her post-graduate courses include the topics of Multiple Intelligences, Inclusion for the Regular Classroom Teacher, and Pathways to Learning.

Deanne Dixon, 2005

Deanne Dixon is a Grade 2 Teacher at the Runkle School in Brookline, MA.  Colleagues describe Deanne as "smart, inquisitive, collaborative, sensitive to others, humble, kind, generous, a role model, ultimate team player, powerful, a leader.  She is determined; she perseveres, takes risks, advises and even effervesces."  Deanne is a classroom teacher, a co-teacher, an inclusion teacher, a teacher of interns, a teacher of teachers.  She develops curricula, mentors, facilitates mentors, examines student work, collaborates in a Critical Friends Group, differentiates instruction, and works on a team that is developing the Master Professional Development Plan for the Brookline Public Schools.  These activities reflect just this past year in Deanne's teaching practices.  Over the span of an eighteen year career, her cutting-edge professional work in notable.

David Summergrad, Principal at Runkle School, notes, "Deanne's belief that her teaching is dynamic is emblematic of her approach.  She looks to push herself in her teaching, to be challenged, and to be reinvigorated in the classroom."  Several years ago, when she was comfortably ensconced in the 6th grade, there was a need for someone to shift to 2nd grade; and Deanne volunteered.  More recently, Deanne and her colleague Stacy Kurtzman, a Special Education Teacher, collaborated to establish an outstanding inclusion classroom that began in 1st grade and looped to 2nd grade. This inclusion co-teaching class has a wide range of developing learners, from students diagnosed  with Asperger's Syndrome as well as students with specific learning disabilities, to average and gifted students.  The class is rich in content delivered in a wide range of styles and groupings.

Carol Daddazio, Brookline Teacher leader for Professional Development states that “Deanne’s hallmark is service to others. What is remarkable is that Deanne consistently initiates opportunities for growth and change. She is a person who seeks extra responsibility so that she can contribute to our school system.  When the Brookline Public schools began to investigate how to incorporate professional learning communities into our professional development, Deanne was in the first wave of educators to take the Critical Friends Group Coaches Seminar.  That she was doing this work while leading an inclusion classroom speaks to her energy and commitment.”  Deanne is also the Mentor Facilitator at Runkle, who addresses needs of first year teachers and assures that incoming teachers and mentors work collaboratively.  She will also be offering a workshop on Technology and Differentiated Instruction to all K-8 incoming teachers.

Her many nominators agree that Deanne is a model of the exemplary veteran teacher.

Vicki Ferstler , 2007

Vicki Ferstler is a Third Grade Teacher at the Heath School in Brookline, MA. “She is amazing, “state her nominators.  The children who land in “3F”, her classroom, are blessed.  Vicky creates a positive, caring and safe learning community each and every year. Children are respected, willing to take academic risks, and truly take joy in learning in her classroom.  Her kindness and clarity set the tone of stability order and safety in her room. Vicki’s classroom commands respect and yet is filled with laughter. She brings rare personal warmth to her work.

Vicki’s parents are her heroes. Both of her parents were both born in other countries coming here from other cultures. Vicky knows from personal experience what it is like to enter a new culture and what makes it easier and more successful.  She has thus translated her own experience into positive benefits for others .Her parents’ courage and determination guide her belief system and her life work as a teacher.

Vicki is a heroine for making a lasting difference in the lives of so many children and her own personal courage and determination as a teacher.   She stands apart as a teacher because of the love, joy, dedication and determination that she brings to her children each year and always finds that balance of helping others yet respecting others’ styles.  Her students, current and former, seek her out, as they know she is genuinely interested in understanding their thinking, concerns, and lives.


Among the many challenges of day-to-day teaching, Vicki finds time to be a thoughtful colleague, accommodating specialists and taking time to work out difficult issues in a deeply thoughtful way. She serves as a mentor to new teachers, yet she remains open to being mentored by more senior teachers.  She is instrumental in building teamwork in the Heath School community and is a reservoir of good intuition and good intentions and her positive attitude continues, after ten years of teaching, to enhance the Heath School community.         

Judy Flynn, 2013

Judy Flynn is a Grade 2 Teacher at the Brophy School in Framingham, MA. was recognized for “Excellence in Education.”  A dedicated teacher-leader, she goes above and beyond in motivating and impacting her students and colleagues. Her diverse group of 2nd graders rises to the challenge of “I think I can.  I think I can.”   The results are a class of 8 year olds who beam with academic self confidence.  Former student Fiana Hercovici states, “Mrs. Flynn has taught me how to try my best in every subject, in everything, and put as much effort as possible into your work, even if you don’t know all the answers.  When you enter her classroom, you immediately see a sign that says “THINK” in big bold letters.  Mrs. Flynn believes if you do not think, you are not trying, and if you are not trying, how can you get better.”  Former students continue to seek Judy, helping in her classroom and maintaining close bonds.


Nominators note some major initiatives that Judy has spearheaded.

Judy started a school-wide summer reading program to help students retain skills over vacation.   She created summer reading and writing journals for classroom teachers to send home with their students in June.  She made over 500 bi-lingual postcards for teachers to mail to students in July reminding them of the importance of continuing their summer reading and writing.  She helped coordinate weekly reading nights at the Framingham Public Library where students could meet with Brophy teachers to practice their reading and choose books at their reading levels. And, parents who attended could win raffles for supermarket gift cards.


Judy started an Oral Language Initiative that focuses on teaching students how to have an appropriate academic conversation, how to show good listening skills, how to ask for clarification when one doesn’t understand, and how to rephrase and retell information.  This action was a result of an analysis of school data and decision making. As facilitator of the Data Team at Brophy, Judy assumed responsibility for teaching colleagues about the initiative and modeling oral language based lessons that are taught to all students.   She and two other teachers will present the program at the MATSOL Conference this spring. (MA Association of Teaching Students of Other Languages) 


Judy has created many co-teaching opportunities.

  • One partnership is with a 4th grade teacher.  They developed a literacy curriculum that is effective for both grades 2 and 4.  The Buddy Program, which has been replicated throughout the school, involves co-taught literacy lessons; and it focuses on creating mentoring relationships between the older and younger students. 

  • Throughout the year, Judy invites kindergarten students to her students’ writing celebrations, when 2nd graders read their writings to their kindergarten partners.

  •  In the spring, Judy works with the music teacher for “Readers Theater,” when her students perform in a production of fables and parents are invited to the production.  High school students are involved, too.  They film the fables and put on them on local TV for everyone to enjoy.

  • She has co-taught a Language Workshop with the speech pathologist.

  • Judy is known for her exemplary classroom management skills, and both new and veteran teachers request to observe her daily routines and transitions to further improve their own skills. She has served as a mentor to many educators and also to student teachers from Framingham State University, for whom she instills a thirst for teaching and learning

A parent, Heidi McIndoo, notes, “Ms. Flynn has created an atmosphere that helps students be comfortable asking questions when they are struggling or just curious.  She teaches, encourages, excites, motivates, models exceptional behavior including manners and treatment of others, and so much more.  And somehow in a class of 20+ kids, she manages to make every student feel special.  If anyone is an example of excellence in education, it’s Judy Flynn.”

Aimee Fredette, 2000

“When a teacher positively and clearly inspires her students, she enables them to become investigators of their own world. When a teacher serves as a role model for students and also for one’s peers, she can powerfully effect learning  and the continuous quest for self improvement and professional  development.”  Aimee Fredette’s words are convincing, and she enthusiastically takes on these challenges and effectively meets them.

A second grade teacher at the Fisher School in Walpole, MA, Aimee plans all of her units utilizing a variety of strategies and assessments in order to reach each child and emphasize his or her strengths.  Incorporating multiple intelligences, she guides each child to understand how he or he actually learns best and provides structure for that learning style. Student centered learning that is “engaging, inquisitive, and hands-on” is demonstrated in the transformation of her classroom into a Bat Cave and a model space capsule.  A butterfly habitat involves students in planning, raising funds, purchasing necessary supplies, and planting a butterfly garden outside their classroom windows.  During this unit, students present impromptu plays  and write letters to other classes, teachers, and office staff describing their learning using return addresses such as Monarch Way and Painted Lady Lane.

Aimee believes that a successful educator is a life long learner This year her teaching and leadership skills have been recognized, and she was selected to participate in the state program to prepare for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  This challenge requires  extensive study and preparation of a portfolio;  upon completion, she will be a master teacher in the Commonwealth and will mentor apprentice teachers.

Aimee’s contributions to the Walpole School system have made significant improvements to the instruction of science at the elementary level. She has offered workshops and study groups to help teachers design lessons that support the curriculum. One of her nominators states, “She has taken the leadership to develop goals, objectives, and assessments which are developmentally appropriate and consistent with the state Frameworks.  Our highest MCAS scores in Grade 4 were in science and technology, which we feel is due to the strength of the curriculum that Aimee helped to facilitate.”  She has served as the PALMS facilitator for two years and has worked with several teachers to prepare them as teacher-leaders in science and math curricula.

Aimee is seen by her colleagues as a team player whose only goal is to help others be  successful in imparting learning.   Her positive attitude and educational contributions are noteworthy and will have lasting impact.

Kathy Fucci, 2013

Kathy Fucci is a Grade 1 Teacher at Lowell Elementary School, Watertown Public Schools, MA. Kathy, according to her nominators “is a one of a kind educator, an extraordinary teacher with 34 years of guiding young children’s minds.”  During her tenure, she has meaningfully touched the lives of hundreds of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and student teachers.

Kathy’s approach and efforts help her students feel good about themselves.  With her guidance, they experience success and begin to achieve mastery in the world around them and gain self-esteem in the process.  Kathy’s stated mission is to help her students become responsible citizens, to give back to the community, and to leave the world a better place than they found it.  She believes in and respects her students. She gives them a voice and responsibility in the classroom where they help create the rules, have jobs, solve problems, and even run class meetings. Kathy works very hard early in the year to provide the scaffolding, structure and safety her students need to do this work. Kathy expands her message to family, school and community; in each area helping students to find their place, their role and their responsibility.

Kathy has created unique experiences for her students that have improved their learning and have since spread to other classrooms.  She has been the driving force behind the grade 1 team to map science curriculum with literacy.  She utilizes educational technology and was the first teacher to use iPod touch devices with her class, and she shared different ways to use this technology and other technologies with her colleagues.

Kathy is particularly skilled in integrating science and technology into her teaching. Committed to hands-on science education, her students engage in many lessons and projects.  These range from an on-going Curiosity Challenge in her classroom where children actually jot down their curious questions so they won’t be forgotten.  Students can then work individually or with others to explore what they are curious about.   Their excitement is palpable as they eagerly use the materials for themselves, see the outcomes, discuss every little detail that they see, and record their findings in science journals.

Kathy’s first graders also take on the statewide Curiosity Challenge hosted by MIT, where again students take ownership over their own learning.  Her “non-traditional homework” inspires students to actively investigate science in the home or community, and these findings are presented by a student “Scientist of the Day” to other students.  It also provides a wonderful forum for children-as-teachers to practice their oral language and presentation skills to their classmates.

Kathy has mentored many student teachers and interns, and she is well known for informally mentoring many of her colleagues.  She is known as the ultimate collaborator, one who demonstrates a passion for learning and commitment to helping others. ….brainstorming ideas for a word study with other first grade teachers, sharing read alouds with the kindergarten teacher, or discussing resources about a science topic with a 2nd grade teacher.  She has presented to students at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Lesley University on a variety of topics including a co-teaching model that she helped to establish.

Kathy is incredibly creative and caring with her students, and she has changed the Lowell School for the better. Darilyn Donovan, Assistant Superintendent, comments, “When you walk into Kathy Fucci’s classroom you feel calm, safe, joyful, and inspired.  She has the most wonderful way of cherishing each child’s uniqueness and supporting their growing competence in anything they tackle.  Kathy is masterful at figuring each student out, where they are academically, socially, and in self-understanding.  She is zealous in meeting each child where they are, with or without disabilities and taking them on the grand journey to become readers, writers, mathematicians, dancers, singers, and artists.  I want to be Katy Fucci when I grow up.”


Emily Gaberman, 2002

Emily Gaberman is a fifth grade teacher at the Runkle School in Brookline, MA. She has been given accolades as “master teacher, risk taker, collaborator, and wonderful model for students and teachers. She is a teacher with tremendous intelligence, innovation, sensitivity, and skill.”

Emily’s classroom is a wonderful laboratory for the latest in teaching techniques and curriculum. She is continually renewing her practice through coursework and sharing with teachers on her team and teacher interns from Simmons College. She facilitates the groups as they plan for the coming week, analyzing what worked and what didn’t work, “Her passion about ‘getting it right’ and her awareness of her own intentionality in her teaching distinguishes her from most of the professionals I have known,” states her principal. “She knows what she does and why she does it.” Innovations in the classroom include a Composer of the Month Program. Students learn to appreciate different kinds of music, do research, and do presentations through skits, interview, and performances. 

Ms. Gaberman has been involved in a number of projects that help all children and teachers throughout the school system. She received grants to study gender issues; and she has worked to develop gender curriculum. She has been a pioneer in developing and using technology for instruction. As a ‘Classroom of Tomorrow teacher, she helped shape the growth and integration of technology in Brookline. Emily also co-authored “Bully Proof,” a curriculum for children designed to expose bullying and teasing and methods to deal with them in fourth and fifth grade.

Brookline’s Elementary Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Daddazio writes about Ms. Gaberman, “She is an endless source of carefully articulated ideas that stimulate reflection. Her fellow teachers make very good use of her fertile and flexible mind. I must include another quality which Emily possesses in abundance: she is light-hearted with a wonderful sense of humor. She is exactly the kind of teacher we will need in our new century.”

Mary Ellen Galanis, 2006

Mary Ellen Galanis serves as Reading Specialist at the Fisher School in Walpole, MA. Suzanne Gillam, retired Walpole Principal who introduced Mary Ellen, recalled seeing a bumper sticker several years ago that said, “If you can read this, thank a teacher!  If the children of Walpole Public Schools were to follow that adage, there would be several hundred lined up to thank our next recipient . . . .Mrs. Mary Ellen Galanis.”

When her son, Jonathan, started Kindergarten at the Fisher School, Mary Ellen signed on as a room mother beginning many years of ‘volunteering’ that included serving on Parent Advisory Councils K-12 as her youngest daughter Jenny progressed through the grades.  She is in fact credited with instituting the first PAC newsletter, a valued resource for parents that is still in existence today.

Mary Ellen's professional career in Walpole started as a Title 1 Tutor until she moved into her own First Grade classroom, and then accepted the Reading Specialist position at Fisher School where she has been for the past eight years. Her colleagues who nominated her note, “ She is the ‘go to’ person in all aspects of our school from student, staff and parent services to coordinating and hosting social events that enhance our collegiality and school culture.” Her principal, Jean Kenney, wrote:  “She is Fisher School’s head learner, teacher leader, professional development facilitator, consultant, and parent coordinator; and she represents the highest standard of leadership in education.”

In her work as a Reading Specialist, Mary Ellen has pioneered the use of the Developmental Reading Assessment at Fisher to appropriately match student reading levels to text and established a new program by which students were selected for flexible needs-based groups.  And in conjunction with Title I and classroom teachers, she forms instructional groups for in-class and small group instruction providing first and second graders with the support needed to solidly develop their reading skills.  Through this highly successful program, Mary Ellen has encouraged hundreds of children – the ones I mentioned earlier – to believe in themselves and develop the confidence needed to succeed; and the improvement demonstrated in their reading abilities is testimony to her success.

Her colleague in the reading department, Nancy Wilhelm, in affirming Mary Ellen’s nomination stated, “She amazes me with her wealth of information, her ability to assess a child’s reading level and pass that helpful information on to the classroom teacher.  She does this with caring and great humility.  She doesn’t even know how good she is!”

Lisa Grasso, a third grade teacher at Fisher School, described the immense support the staff gets from their multi-talented reading specialist.  There’s her leadership of the annual school-wide Reading Incentive Program, the Teachers As Readers Book Club, the ISIS group that is made up of a group of teachers supporting each other through problem solving, and the countless resources and staff development workshops she offers. And on top of all of that, Anna Cochrane, a first year first grade teacher, acknowledges that Mary Ellen is a most supportive mentor who never hesitates to put her own agenda aside to help out when needed.  One of last year’s recipients, Janet Wellock, believes Mary Ellen emulates Shel Silverstein’s book “The Giving Tree” as she always goes above and beyond the call of a teacher in all that she does.  In fact, Janet concluded, “She is ‘The Giving Tree’ and she is always blossoming.”

Mrs. Galanis received her BA from Lesley College and began her teaching career in Cambridge.  For the past fifteen years she has been part of the Walpole Public School System and has also earned a Masters from Lesley in Curriculum and Literacy.

Wendy Garland, 2016


Wendy Garland, Library Media Specialist at Avery Elementary School in Dedham, MA is a pathfinder in the field of school librarianship. A 21st Century school library has changed dramatically, morphed in large part by technology. School librarians must embrace and incorporate technology to promote student learning. Wendy spearheaded the district initiative to use iPad carts and then developed and shared a list of free apps approved for classroom use. The list of innovations Wendy has brought to her program is lengthy: MakerSpace, EdCamps, Hour of Code, “One Book, One School,” Super Lunch Hero Day to name just a few. Her enthusiasm is unbounded and her contributions reach far outside her school. She is a member of the Massachusetts School Library Association Professional Learning Committee, hosted a fall state-wide EdCamp, and even enrolled at a summer NERD Camp in Michigan.


Don Langenhorst, Director of Technology and Libraries for the Dedham Public Schools has high praise for Wendy, “She is truly the ‘go to person’ for many informational and technological issues….Her work with others has led to unique approaches to integrating information literacy standards in the classroom and beyond….If you know Wendy, you know that her energy and passion are contagious!”


Wendy is an agent of change and is undaunted in making her visions a reality. She was able to get many supplies by repurposing and recycling, but many of the needed materials could not be realized on a minimal budget. She collaborated on a grant to receive a $5000 MBLC grant through the Library Services & Technology Grant Program to establish a Makerspace program. She has brought additional resources to her school by reaching out to community groups, including the Dedham Education Foundation, Dedham Education Partnership, Blue Bunny

Bookstore, Fablevision, Dedham Public Library and the Dedham Library Innovation Team. The innovations from the grants Wendy has won have trans-formed the library program at the Avery School and the learning environment at large.


Wendy helps all staff improve their teaching.  After hosting the statewide school library EdCamp, Wendy was instrumental in planning and leading a district-wide EdCamp. She gave the keynote address, explaining the concept of EdCamp and the unique learning experience ahead. 84% of attendees reported their overall experience as valuable or extremely valuable. Dr. Linda Kobierski, Science Department Head has worked with Wendy for two years on the Dedham Public Schools Professional Development Committee. “…Wendy played an essential role in reshaping the vision and delivery of professional development in her work to promote and develop EdCamp…. Wendy’s vision and passion, have fostered an atmosphere of learning and collaboration throughout the district, and in turn are having a positive impact on student learning in every school.”


Promoting reading is still a goal of the school library. Principal Clare Sullivan explains that in Wendy, she found a professional who promotes reading and a whole lot more. Children are excitedly sharing what they are reading, … book raffles have to be held for who will be the first to be able to read a new book, and …even the most struggling of readers is able to happily leave with an armful of books. She runs many programs after school, during lunchtime, recess, evenings and in the summer including book clubs and Makerspace activities among many other enrichment activities; Wendy has made the Avery Library Media Center a vibrant, inviting place that never seems to close.”


Ginny Gay, 1994

Ginny Gay, an Elementary Physical Education Teacher at the Old Post Road School in Walpole, is recognized for her years of excellence and dedication to students and fellow colleagues. " She has not only successfully worked to build psychomotor skills of her students but has continually stressed teamwork, group unity, and interpersonal skill development of all within her classes," states Stephen Fortin, Principal of Old Post Road School.

Nominations from Ms. Gay's peers emphasize the importance she places on cooperation rather that competition. "Mrs. Gay encourages each child to reach his or her personal best. "She has a keen sense of particular students' learning styles and she adjusts her teaching approaches accordingly. It is her expressed goal to include a movement objective, an aerobic activity and health information in each class. "

A proponent of non-competitive games, Mrs. Gay has always stressed the importance of kindness and cooperation. As a result, "she has had as much an effect in shaping the children's human and social values as well as their physical skills." This is exhibited in the annual Field Day, a non-competitive day in which children are divided into teams made up of students in Grades 1. The children pre-select events in which they feel comfortable participating. Awards are given for acts of kindness, helpfulness, consideration, and sportsmanship. Everyone goes home a winner!

Although a veteran teacher, Mrs. Gay believes in the importance of maintaining a strong understanding of current practices in physical education, and she regularly attends workshops and incorporates new strategies in her program, which are shared with other teachers. Mrs. Gay has been a Horace Mann Award recipient, recognized for furthering movement education; and she has served on Physical Education review committees and the Parent Advisory Committee at Old Post Road School.

Susan Getty, 2003

“What’s best for the children?”  Whether it is selecting a math program, determining the safest way to run a fire drill, or deciding the best way to communicate with parents, Susan Getty, Grade 1 Teacher at the Bennet-Hemenway School in Natick, MA has children at the core of her decisions.

Her nominators cite Susan’s ability to “create positive, productive learning environments.  She communicates high expectations and establishes a joyful, learning atmosphere where all children are active learners.  Diagnostic prescriptive teaching is the hallmark of her teaching style.  The most challenging student is dealt with fairly, the most emotionally needy child is embraced by her love; the most gifted child is challenged to excel.”

Susan is a dynamo. Just observing her for one hour seamlessly weaving subject areas while keeping her first grade students attentive and thoroughly engaged is a joy. How she keeps this up day in and day out is a wonder.  Her commitment to her students’ growth and her own professional growth is evident. She has been a leader in developing and implementing a new math curriculum called “Investigations” that is standards based and really focuses on setting the foundation of understanding mathematics.  This is done through steps that get students involved in problem solving and strategizing.  The entire school system has adopted this program for K-5 after considerable study; and Susan, who spent the last two summers learning more about the new mathematics program so that she could be better equipped to lead others in developing skills, presents workshops and models lessons for her colleagues. 

Susan’s expertise is also recognized at the state level through her frequent workshop activities for Title I. In the area of literacy, she has been an innovator and leader for the Natick School System. She has been active on committees, which created the rubric for national teacher certification, and she has served as a cooperating teacher for dozens of pre-service teachers.

Clearly, Susan Getty is a dedicated, caring, knowledgeable, and skillful teacher who sees her role as both providing excellent instruction to her students and having an obligation to share her expertise and help improve education for all students.

Herb Grace,  2011

Herb Grace is a Physical Education Teacher at the Memorial School in Medfield, MA.

In the Goldin Foundation’s application, there is a section titled “Significant Educational Achievements.”  It’s in this part of the application where it becomes quickly apparent that an educator’s excellence is not measured by years but by magical moments that stick like some kind of wonderful glue in everyone’s hearts. 

Herb Grace imparts a love of fitness, a respect for children of all abilities, and a respect for good character.  All those would make fine trophies, but it’s the moments behind each of those accolades that make these trophies grow a heart and lungs.

His content specialist, Susan Cowell, tells us “in Herb’s classes, every child is valued, and every child has an equal opportunity to learn.”

One parent writes that “Herb Grace helped mold and build character in my own son as well as so many other kids in this town.”

One of his colleagues shares, “To be placed in the same category with a teacher like Herb is an Honor.  It simply doesn’t get any better than that!”

Jon Kirby, Medfield High School’s Athletic Director tells us that “To say the children of Memorial School LOVE Mr. Grace would be an understatement.  He is the Pied Piper of Memorial School!”

Andrea Trasher, Principal of Memorial School, described many of the ways Herb gives and then gives some more.  From donating one week of income from his summer camp and another week of income to the Avon Breast Cancer Walk, to volunteering his time to help the Coalition by running those oh-so-popular birthday parties to his free sports clinics and Jimmy Fund Basketball Clinic, Herb Grace defines excellence in all he does.

Heidi Johnson shares how her youngest son, William, born with SMA or spinal cord disease has always needed a power wheelchair for mobility.  Heidi writes that “William and Mr. Grace hit it off immediately, and I was overwhelmed with the attention and love he showed my son.”  Her letter describes how Herb regularly made sure that whatever equipment William needed, he had, even if he had to open his own wallet to get it.  Heidi tells us that “Over the years, Mr. Grace has continued to make William feel a special part of his teams, even taking the time before games to go over plays with William and ask him for advice.”

Gail Duffy, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, describes her visit to Herb’s class. ‘”I spoke with a little girl in his class named Johanna.  She told me that working with Mr. Grace helps her bones!  And Thomas told me he’s taller because of Mr. Grace!  Harper whispered to me that he runs faster and faster! When I asked Herb what makes it magical for him, he kind of straightened up in his chair, and talked about “seeing the enjoyment the kids get out of coming down here.  Seeing the fun they have.  Their smiles.  Their laughs.  It never gets old.  He told me that “you’re teaching them about physical education, health, sportsmanship, integrity, and about honor….and that never gets old either. Herb calls his wife Paula, a first grade teacher at Memorial his “inspiration” and his “backbone.”

Herb is a 1985 graduate of Medfield High School, and he is an educator in the truest sense of the word in the classroom and in his position as basketball coach at Medfield High School.

 Rosemary Greene, 1993

Rosemary Greene is a Fourth grade teacher at the John Eliot School in Needham.  "She has distinguished herself as a teacher, an innovator, a risk-taker, a catalyst within the school, and an example of a person who has capitalized upon incorporating new concepts and ideas into her teaching after two decades of teaching," states Mrs.Kronish, Principal at John Eliot School.

Rosemary developed and implemented a model for accelerated learning in the classroom.  The approach of combing music, art, active learning, movement, and integrating curriculum areas creates a dynamic learning environment. An example of the accelerated learning approach is total body learning to help children understand and remember concepts.  Ms. Greene and her students assume identities  which match who and what they study. They become scientists when they are in science class and explorers when they are in social studies.  Each student assumes a specific persona and studies, writes, and performs like that individual. They share their work in oral presentations with each other. Students are highly motivated, do well on tests, are creatively engaged, and produce outstanding work compared more traditionally taught classes. The classroom buzzes with energy and excitement, and this enthusiasm is shared by parents, as well, who often volunteer in classroom activities.  They have commented that their children are completely absorbed in the learning process and can't wait to come to school each day.

Rosemarie is always looking for a better way to do things and continues to take course, attends seminars, and scans literature for the latest techniques to impact her students.  She epitomizes lifelong learning, renewal, and inspired teaching; and she shares her joy of teaching and learning with Needham colleagues by giving professional development workshops.  Her classes have been visited by teachers and administrators form the U.S. and abroad, and she has presented her ideas at r the University of MA Forum for Critical Thinking Studies.

Rosemarie has served as an Education Association representative and has been a teacher in the Needham Summer School. She has received Horace Mann grants in Science and Social Studi

Paula Grimes, 2008

Paula Grimes, a second grade teacher at Bagby School in the Cambrian School District, has made an outstanding contribution in the classroom, school, and community.  She goes beyond doing an outstanding job; she gives of herself, her time, and shares her resources way above on hundred percent.  She has demonstrated excellence in education with her contributions as a mentor to the “Step-up to Writing Program.”  She also helped to create a substitute parent volunteer list for the new “Excel, Response to Intervention Reading Program” because there was a need.  She and another new teacher created a wonderful program for new teachers called “New to Bagby.” They designed this program to help the new teachers adjust to the Bagby Community and its demanding culture.

Paula is committed to the growth of each student and respects their individual needs and talents. Every student is valued in her class.  She is showered with hugs as she crosses the Bagby campus by former students as well as her current students.  A parent nomination letter shared how she has movie dates with her students to help promote the idea that she is more than a teacher; she is a lifelong friend in their lives.  She helps the students at Bagby develop their leadership skills by helping with Student Council.  She gently guides them and provides support as they make decisions to make Bagby an eco friendly environment by recycling.  She leads Bagby in giving with the “Jump Rope for Heart” event where students collect donations for the American Heart Association.

Paula sets high expectations for herself and others as she mentors new teachers.  She has given uncountable hours to support her mentees.  She is respected by her peers.  Cambrian’s former Curriculum Director shared in his nomination letter how Paula spent hours planning and delivering training to the teachers. He said she could be counted on to work with even the most difficult group. He went on to say that she gave one hundred fifty per cent to every task.   Paula is most deserving of the award for Excellence in Education

Gayla Haas & Kim Houser, 2005

Gayla Haas and Kim Houser are teachers at the Newport Elementary School in the Crosby Independent School District, Crosby, Texas. 

Gayla Haas, one half of this dynamic team, is currently the computer lab teacher at Newport Elementary School (NES), and she has been an educator for 19 years. Here are some of the comments her nominators said about Gayla:         

She is a role model and a leader among her colleagues to whom we all turn for help and guidance.

She is a problem solver.

She looks for the good, the positive, and the best in every child.

She loves and respects her NES family.

She is more dependable than the Energizer Bunny.

She is energetic, possesses a caring heart, and she loves to tackle new jobs.

She has a big heart; always ready to give her time, support, and encouragement to children and colleagues alike.

She has fabulous rapport with students and obviously cares so much about what they do and who they become.

She is always steadfast and constant, a calming influence on students and fellow teachers.

Working with such a wonderful lady is a blessing for which I am thankful every day. She is a gift

Kim Houser is the other half of this exceptional team.  Kim is currently the art teacher at NES. She has been a teacher for 16 years. Her nominators said these things about her:

She is an artist.

Students know she loves them.

She is a mentor to new teachers.

 She has donned an umbrella and braved the rain, walkie-talkie in hand, to greet students and parents in the pick-up line.

She is a true measure of professionalism and integrity.

She is genuinely interested in students. She is patient with children, gentle, and kind, finding the best in them.

She is a creative thinker.

She has a mother’s disposition, replete with praises and encouragement, which the children respect and admire.

She makes teaching children her top priority.

Several years ago, these two creative ladies took on a new challenge meshing their talents and energy to take on the development of the very first NES student council. Their principal, Michael Joseph, said: "Four years ago Gayle and Kim agreed to co-sponsor our school’s first Student Council. What they have done with this program and the experiences they have provided for our students have exceeded my wildest expectations.  Their primary goals have been to instill leadership qualities, focus on activities that build positive character traits, and provide opportunities for students to make a difference in the community in which they live."

Another nominator wrote this about the Student Council: "The achievements of this group range from creating a scholarship for graduating Crosby High School seniors, raising money for the American Cancer Society [among several other organizations], and collecting school supplies for the children of Afghanistan.  The student council spearheaded a letter writing campaign to benefit area service men and women, and they visited and performed at a Crosby area retirement center."

These two very special teachers have impacted positively the lives of children, the lives of their colleagues, and the Crosby community as well.

Alicia Hamilton, 2016

Alicia Hamilton is a 4th grade teacher at Capri Elementary School in the Campbell Union School District in San Jose, CA. Capri Elementary School’s demographics are about evenly split between those learning English as a second language and those who are English only.  Collectively Capri students speak 26 different languages.  Alicia arrived on the Capri scene four years ago bringing with her the perfect skill set to serve her community’s needs.  Directly from her nomination application comes this quote:

“Over the course of her nineteen years in education, Alicia Hamilton has made a lasting impact on the lives of her students.  Her classroom represents a true community of learners in which students feel safe to take risks and mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth.  She is a teacher who has contributed to her school sites and districts by charting a course and designing rigorous curriculum based on Common Core State Standards and English Language Development Standards for our EL Learners.” 

Michelle Makinson, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member comments on a visit made to Alicia’s classroom. “Watching her class unfold before me, I was warmed by the evidence of her high academic expectations for every student aligned with well-crafted learning strategies.  Any student would have been well served by the lesson taught, but English language learners were given the needed supports without lessoning the learning challenge.  Gold standard ELD instruction such as this is essential to our success as a state and as a whole and interconnected community dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.  Though she prefers the term advocate, Alicia Hamilton certainly lives up to the title of ELD Champion.”

Here are a few highlights of her many accomplishments as a teacher leader in service of students:

·       Developed and lead an ELD after school program for upper elementary students which directly resulted in more students meeting AMAO expectations for growth

·       Serves as an ELD champion promoting improved ELD instruction among her fellow teachers

·       Represents the fourth grade on ELA issues at the district level

·       Uses her background as an Equity Coach as a guide for how to build a team to move forward;  A team of collaborators including teachers, the principal, and district office educators working together “don’t wait for permission”

·       Supports the development of safe and supportive school climate as a member of the PBIS Tier 1 Team

Alicia is an amazing teacher and a force for change, yet she knows that she cannot do it alone.  Her commitment to serving the educational needs of her students is passionate, collaborative, and subject to change based on the needs of her students that year.  The exact details of what we celebrate today may not be what we would celebrate about Alicia in the future.  Nestled in this fact lies her true excellence, her will to build and rebuild a best possible world again and again because it needs to be done and because she can do it. Her advice is “don’t wait for permission” which is the hallmark of a teacher leader.

Kathy Hart, 2003

Kathy Hart, a Special Education Teacher in Natick Public Schools, is considered a pioneer in moving the school system toward the inclusion movement and in mentoring new staff members. There was a time when special needs students were relegated to separate classrooms. Well before the inclusion model became common practice, Kathy formed close partnerships with classroom teachers, enabling her students to be part of the regular classroom experience. She recognized the advantages of inclusion and served as a leader to encourage it for the Natick Public Schools. Kathy served as child advocate, mentor and leader, supporting both students and teachers.

 Over the course of her many years in education, Kathy has fine tuned and designed inclusive educational programs for hundreds of youngsters.  By devising specialized reading programs for students with learning disabilities, she has been able to help them build self-confidence, self worth, and desire to be productive.   She has continued to develop her professional skills with further training always keeping informed with the latest research and techniques. Jennifer Parker, Speech and Language Pathologist, notes that she has made such a difference in the lives of children and their parents as evidenced by the too numerous to count notes and phone calls from former students, invitations to weddings and other events.

Kathy works tirelessly to form strong collegial teams and is always there to provide support.  Principal Kevin Crowley writes: “Over the years there has not been a single teacher who has not benefited from the expertise and wisdom of this very special educator... While speaking with people about Kathy’s contribution to education, I constantly heard the refrain, ‘I would not still be here if it were not for Kathy Hart.’ Last summer, with three days left of summer vacation, a new teacher was hired. During the teacher’s first two days, Kathy was by her side, cleaned the room, brought in lunch and at 7 P.M. arranged a room decorating party with six other teachers helping out. Reportedly, Kathy has have spent the last 30 years doing much the same.

Kathy’s career has been aptly summed up by Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services, Audry Seyffert, “A Kathy Hart passes through our gates once in a lifetime, and we are forever changed by the experience.”

Heidi Herschbach, 2009

Heidi Herschbach serves as a Grade 2 teacher and Choir Director at Baker School in the Moreland School District, in San Jose, CA.

The curtain slides open; the soft piano music begins to permeate the Multi-Use Room of Baker Elementary School.  The audience made-up of excited parents, teachers and students, settle in; and the lights begin to fade.   Yet another exciting performance will ensue under the capable hands of Heidi Herschbach.

Heidi’s passion for music started when he was in middle school.  She shares her love of music and singing with Baker Choir students, who choose to extend the school day in order to attend.  They love learning new songs, developing friendships with students in different grades, and performing before a live audience.   Each year, Heidi accepts the first 100 students to sign up.  She has to limit the number as the experience is completely voluntary on everyone’s part.   Some strict guidelines lead to other lessons, such as responsibility, as each child must check in before each rehearsal and not miss more than two practices. Middle school student also come back to help, and all children are encouraged to try out for speaking or singing parts, run the lights, help with songs, or choreograph dances to songs. As Choir Director for eleven years, Heidi has coordinated annual productions that have included approximately 1100 first through fifth grade Baker Bobcats.  The performances have become a cherished tradition for the students, staff, and the community. 

It is said that Heidi never gives up on any child.  She’ll go out of her way to create an engaging environment that meets the broad range of learners in her classroom.   At the same time, she expects her students to put forth maximum effort, as she believes that it’s the efforts behind the grade which bears the most weight.  Cynthia Van Hoy, a colleague, recounts the time when Heidi welcomed a student who spoke no English, came from a broken family, and struggled with learning disabilities.  He had entered Heidi’s classroom mid-year without hope or confidence.  Heidi “provided comfort within clear boundaries as she worked tirelessly to educate this young person by researching lessons on the Internet, recruiting extra parental help, and keeping in constant contact with his family.  In addition she requested keeping this student during the next year to provide continuity for him.  This extra care truly made a difference in this child’s life.”

Heidi believes that once a child has been in her classroom, he or she is her student for life.  Many of her former students continue to visit and share what is happening in their lives.  Even parent volunteers - and Heidi utilizes many in her classroom - continue to offer assistance long after their children have moved on from Baker School.

A former 2nd grader, Kayla Reed, provides us with a capsule of her teacher. “Miss Herschbach isn’t just one of my old teachers.  She is like a friend that I will always be able to go to.  She has helped me so much academically and just in life.  She helped me to accomplish so much and I really appreciate that.  She taught me that I could be myself no matter what is going on.  She always knows what to say and how to help me.  I wouldn’t be who I am today without her.  She was and will always be a huge part of my life.”

Bill Horewitch, 2006

Bill Horewitch is a physical education teacher at Southside Primary School in Cleveland ISD, Cleveland, Texas. Coach Horewitch has touched many lives in his 28 years in the field of education. His awards and achievements are numerous. Coach Bill, as his students lovingly call him, received the 2005 – 2006 Region 4 Education Service Center Teacher of the Year award and was a Disney Teacher of the Year nominee. He was recently chosen as a Houston Texans NFL Hometown Hero at a Houston Texans Football Game. He is certainly a hero for his students, parents, and the community.

Coach Bill career began in Illinois where he graduated from North Park College and taught in the Chicago area for several years. Coach Bill received his Masters degree from Prairie View A&M University and has taught in Texas school districts for 18 years. He is currently the Physical Education Head at Southside Primary. He is responsible for the fitness of 950 students at the Kindergarten through 2nd grade campus.

A member of the committee that recruited Coach Bill said, “Hiring Coach Bill was the best decision made by this campus. The Coach has really made a daily difference in the lives of children and staff by his positive attitude.”

Coach Bill’s principal, Bobbie Fagan, acknowledges, “I can honestly say that I have never heard the word “No” from Bill.”  A parent, who is also a teacher, shared that,  “When Coach Bill tells the children he cares about them, he means it!  Coach sets up extra time to spend with my son, and he became his mentor. This started two years ago, and he continues to be there for my son. Being a single parent with a young boy, I find it difficult to be Mom and Dad. Coach Horewitch became the perfect role model. He makes himself available to the children at any moment so that their needs are met.”

Coach Bill’s actions, more so that the many awards he has received, reminds those of us in education of what he clearly articulates: We teach to inspire…. we teach to touch a life…we teach to make a difference…. We teach.

Wendy Johnson, 2013

Wendy Johnson ia a Grade 5 Teacher at Payne Elementary School, Moreland School District in San Jose, CA.  She is described by her nominators as “dedicated, innovative, and committed to all.  Wendy believes that every child can succeed, and she works feverishly to ensure that they feel safe and connected to our campus. We are grateful for the passion that she brings to our school and district, and we feel she is deserving of this esteemed award. Wendy Johnson is an extraordinary role model!”

Wendy’s presence at Payne Elementary positively impacts hundreds of students, teachers, and parents.  One nominator writes that Wendy is an amazing leader and serves as the coordinator of the Cornerstone Project where she has spear-headed numerous projects that help make Payne a safe and positive learning environment for all. She plans exciting spirit days and book swaps to promote school pride as well as initiating “Go Green” days at Payne. Wendy teaches students the value of teamwork and that their actions can have a positive impact on their peers.

She was also instrumental in implementing “Check and Connect” which was designed for students that need extra support and help with making better choices. Wendy spends hours meeting with staff, contacting parents, and connecting with students to match each student with a mentor teacher. The student checks in with the mentor at the end of the day to receive positive reinforcement with words and rewards. This program has been extremely successful, largely due to Wendy’s efforts, because it fosters the safe and caring school climate upon which Payne School prides itself.

Wendy is involved with the district Math Committee and regularly presents at district grade level meetings. Her expertise in math has helped teachers at various grade levels implement researched-based math strategies to ensure students grasp important math content. She also serves the teachers of her district by being a part of the Union Negotiating Team.

Wendy was raised in Turlock, CA and moved to Santa Cruz to attend college where she graduated with a double major in Environment Studies and Legal Studies. She received her Multiple Subject teaching credential from San Jose State University, and in 2006 she began her teaching career at Payne.

Debbie Judge, 2005

Debbie Judge is a Second Grade Teacher at Bagby Elementary in the Cambrian School District. She is also serving as District Peer Support Provider for three new teachers, a responsibility reflecting the many years of service to her district as a New Teacher Mentor, Master Teacher of many student teachers, Grade Level Leader, and a valued member of the Cabrian staff. Debby also serves on the Bagby Student Study Team that provides ideas and support for students in need.

Debbie, as noted by her nominators, is “the epitome of excellence and professionalism, and she deserves to be recognized for her many hours of selfless service. Kathy Kimpel, Principal at Bagby, notes,” To Debbie, there are no minds that cannot be opened to learning; each is just waiting for the right key. While there might be challenges, there are no failures in her view of the classroom. This belief system does not stop at the classroom door.  Debbie sees the possibilities in everyone: students, peers, and administrators.” Debbie shares her vast repertoire of strategies and tools with others; she mentors and supports her colleagues; she takes roles of leadership within the school; and she shows by example how to be an active in her school and home communities.”

Faculty and parent nominators state that Debbie “has the most wonderful way of relating to children so that she commands total respect and truly engenders love. She provides an atmosphere in her classroom that encourages children to create, be independent, and to challenge themselves. Her classroom skills are incredible.   She never raises her voice, and her students remain consistently on task. She sets the stage for her students to become lifelong learners.”

Further examples of her commitment and professionalism include: design of a set of phonic sound cards based on the Slingland Method, which were used by every Primary Teacher in the Cambrian District. She spearheaded a community effort to support a family in need to provide weekly meals and assist with growing medical costs.

“Debbie is an exemplary educator, but most importantly, she is an exemplary human being,”  cite all her nominators.  She supports and inspires the entire school community and is most humble in the process.

Joy Karol, 2007

Joy Karol, an English Language Learner Teacher at the Bowen Elementary School in Newton, MA. Joy, so aptly named,” is a joy to behold and an inspiration,” state her nominators.  “She is the standard by which we should judge all ELL teachers.  Joy brings incredible energy and insight to her daily work with children.  She connects with each of her students and their parents. She provides a safe sanctuary for them to begin their new journeys in their new country.  Joy welcomes them with her infectious smile, calm demeanor, and encouraging attitude.”  Through her energy, effort, and dedication, she has created a stellar program.

In the Bowen School community, approximately twenty-four languages are spoken, and almost 30% of its students speak languages other than English at home.  This is an ever- changing and continuously growing population which changes from month to month and year to year. When a new family comes to Bowen, Joy is the first contact at the school; and she paves the way for successful assimilation into the new educational setting.  Students are welcomed warmly and their language and heritage honored.  This attention is extended to siblings as well as parents.

The environment in Joy’s classroom is rich with real world applications as she integrates instruction with grade level content.  Students learn to rely upon one another and share experiences as they learn to listen, speak, write, and read English.  Joy is masterful in her ability to differentiate instruction.  She communicates regularly with grade-level teachers, specialists, and support service staff throughout the school to prioritize the needs of each student on a daily basis. . Her mission is to have her students participate fully and comfortably in their grade level classrooms. To this end Joy assists her colleagues with materials and strategies to modify and adapt classroom curriculum for each of her students, incorporating the student’s interests, needs and academic performance. 

Other initiatives in which Joy has helped develop include: partnership programs between English Language learners and their English speaking classmates, week-long school-wide multicultural celebrations involving each student, teacher and parent and the community; and cultural connections in specialists’ curricula.  The ELL parent community is very involved, too..  “Joy and her staff are always available to answer questions and calm nerves, “comments Karen Superior, Speech Language Therapist. She also offers a Parent Night to help the community socialize and support each other.”

With several colleagues, Joy developed a Literacy Lab model providing at- risk children with before school enrichment to help develop their reading and language skills. This is a voluntary program that helps students become independent and successful.

Children blossom under Joy’s tutelage.  Nominators comment that as one walk down the corridor with Joy, students flock around her with embraces as if she is the Pied Piper of Bowen School.  She is gifted at helping these children meet success with her enthusiastic and loving approach to teaching. According to Betty Goldberg, Special Education Teacher, “Joy Karol is a catalyst for learning, assimilation, comfort, hard work, self esteem and connection.  She is a model for embracing and putting diversity to work in a school.”

Michael Kascak, 1997

A parent nominator comments, “There are those rare and special educators who open vistas for the children they teach.  In the process, they change their students’ lives.  Michael Kascak has the ability to create a climate which enables students to become responsible scholars, active learners, caring colleagues, and creative artists.  He knows how to challenge his students to reach beyond and achieve at the highest level.  Depth and breadth, integration of subject areas, and clear focus are constants.

Michael is very talented at integrating curriculum.  The 5th grade curriculum in his class, for example, is taught through the theme of Revolution; for it contains the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and the Civil Rights movement.   Students begin to understand the purposes for each revolution and learn whether or not each was successful.

The amount of planning and preparation seems effortless, but really is not.  Michael’s seamless work is a result of very sensitive and thoughtful research and reflection.  When one enters his classroom, one immediately sees the excitement, fun, and challenge of learning by students thoroughly engaged in a variety of different activities at different stations.  When asked, students know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what the expectations are for their work.  Standards are clear and high and defined on rubrics, which are student and teacher assessment tools that are used and adhered to by all students.

One of Michael’s most impressive programs, which was detailed by several nominators, is a cognate approach to teaching vocabulary.  This involves discovering Greek and Latin roots.  With dictionaries art their sides, students are constantly tracking and building vocabulary that is introduced through the essential theme that includes an ever expanding interweaving of art, science, math, social studies, and literature.  Michael’s book, The Secret of Words: Developing Vocabulary, his program and method of teaching the process has spread to all 5th grades, with vocabulary development improving significantly.  The program is creative, fun, and centers the responsibility or learning on the student.

Technology plays a large part in Michael’s teaching.  He is know for absconding all the Apple IIE’s in the school that no one wanted and teaching his students and other teachers their value.  Students have helped design an Internet web page; they have written newsletters; and they have used exciting software programs that foster group and individual problem solving.  The Lemonade Stand project asked each student group real life business questions.  This led to students designing their own logos and advertising slogans, filming a commercial, and convincing real people to invest in their businesses.  The pairing of students at computers is important, as Michael believes that so many things done by students are solitary.  Thus use of the computer can become a collective enterprise.

Michael, in his spare time, teaches a course at Lesley College and is also working towards his Master’s Degree in Educational Technology.  According to his Principal Andrea Wong, “Michael is like a fine conductor who brings out the music in all students, and this results in a melodious symphony.  Come and observe to experience this for yourself.”

Sharon Kingsbury, 2005

 Sharon Kingsbury is a Reading Specialist at Bridge Elementary School in Lexington, MA.  Although there is a job description for the role of reading specialist in the Lexington Public Schools, Sharon Kingsbury far exceeds its expectation.  Teachers and administrators state that they are fortunate to have her as a colleague and leader.  Sharon is noted to be a “teacher’s teacher” and a specialist whose  “beliefs, convictions, and practices substantively affects the teaching and learning that is occurring on a day to day basis.”

Sharon displays creative versatility and true collaboration as she shares her broad knowledge base with teachers at Bridge Elementary School and throughout the Lexington school system.  Her professional knowledge is constantly updated as she focuses on current research based perspectives.  She looks at new models of instruction and belongs to professional organizations, all of which are indications of her own curiosity and openness to learning.  Her expertise in the areas of Reading and Special Education is augmented by her studies of Project Read, Differentiated Instruction, Phonological-Phonemic Awareness, and EMI, Empowering Multicultural Initiative.   Sharon shares the latest techniques and approaches through formal and informal staff development opportunities. She works in partnership with her colleagues, asking good questions to get an accurate understanding of students’ skills and planning directly with staff members too reach their needs.  She works tirelessly to ensure that each teacher in the school has the materials, strategies, and abilities to enable every student to become an able reader and writer.

Sharon’s infectious enthusiasm is reflected as she helps children discover the joy of reading.  Whether it is with individual learners or entire classrooms where she is often requested to model lessons, her versatility, focus, organization, and persistence are evident. Her most exceptional quality is her determination to see something through and never give up on a student. She uses various teaching strategies to motivate students; and she knows each of them as individuals, using their interests and strengths to hook them as readers.  Her many students are stated to have come back to classes feeling confident, positive and having the knowledge and strategies for life long learning.  

Sharon is a leader.  Stepping in as Interim Department Head, she led the department for a year, collecting materials for the entire system to review, wrote curriculum designs, developed pre-tests to be given system-wide, and conducted all department meetings, all while honoring her responsibilities to Bridge School.

Sharon has proven to be an invaluable resource for students, staff, parents, and administrators alike. Every person with whom Sharon comes in contact is a better person because she models drive, passion for learning and teaching, a continuing thirst for knowledge, and dedication to her students and colleagues.

Shevon Kuznezov, 2010

Shevon Kuznezov serves as a  Special Education teacher at Fisher Elementary School in Walpole, MA.

“Each meeting I have with Shevon provides hope and optimism for my child and his success.” “Understanding the unique challenges of each child and adapting goals based on their strengths has made progress for my child possible.” Another parent writes, “Since my daughter has moved to the Thematic Learning Center at Fisher School, she has grown leaps and bounds in her academic and social skills.” These are several of the extraordinary testimonials written on behalf of Shevon Kuznezov, Thematic Learning Center teacher.

Shevon provides significantly challenged upper elementary students with curriculum taught in thematic units to help integrate concepts and skills.

Tim Cornely, Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member and Assistant Superintendent of Holliston Public Schools, recently had the pleasure of visiting Shevon and her students at Fisher and witnessed first-hand her creativity, sensitivity, and passion, while observing the activities and interactions at Café 21. Each Friday morning, Shevon’s students host Café 21 in their classroom, serving coffee, tea, hot cocoa and baked goods to school staff and parents. “When I entered the classroom, I immediately felt a warm welcoming feeling. Each of Shevon’s students was actively engaged in their assignment: preparation, sales, cashier and deliveries. Each student had some minor assistance to help them complete each transaction.  I could clearly recognize the skills that Shevon had hoped to achieve when designing this activity: proper manners, eye contact, addition skills, and social engagement.” This year all the proceeds from Café 21 will be donated to the Best Buddies Program.  Her students continue to learn by making contributions to others through a program Shevon developed, called, “Our Giving Project.” They make men’s and women’s fleece scarves and donate them as holiday gifts to the Wrentham Development Center.

A colleague writes, “Shevon is a true professional. Her thorough planning, effective instruction, collection of data and accurate reflection of student progress in reports makes her an outstanding educator. Shevon uses low-tech, mid-tech, and high tech assistive technology learned through her graduate courses to foster growth and independence for each child.”  Her students ably demonstrate how they use assistive technology to help strengthen their reading and writing skills. 

When you listen to Shevon talk about her students and their accomplishments, she beams with pride and compassion. She recalled that from when she was very young, that working with students with special needs was always something she wanted to do and now that she has been fortunate enough to have this opportunity, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Shevon is recognized by her peers as a talented, courageous, and a committed educator. She continually seeks ways to improve herself, her students, and the broader community.

Lisa Landsberg, 2015

Lisa Landsberg is a Grade 5 Teacher at Bagby Elementary School in the Cambrian School District, San Jose, CA.                                                                            

Lisa is an ardent practioner of Project Based Learning (PBL), where students learn through inquiry, collaboration, problem solving, and finding their voices to demonstrate understanding by presenting their findings and recommendations to a panel of adults from the community.   She presents her students with real life problems and gives them opportunities to come up with solutions.  A parent nominator writes, “When my son was in her class, students were asked to develop recommendations for NASA in their quest to move life sustaining equipment and materials to Mars.  Working in small groups, students researched everything from the NASA mission, weight of materials, constraints of space travel, estimates on costs, and sustainability for the program.  Using what they learned, each team of students wrote a summary of their findings and a persuasive essay in support of their proposal.  They also created a multi-media presentation of their proposal.  I believe the power of providing reading, writing, math, social studies, science, and public speaking instruction all in one unit says it all.”

Lisa is dedicated to educating children, and she is passionate about nurturing their spirits and minds as well.  She opens her doors at lunch and before and after school to help students resolve social issues.  She is committed to the growth of young people and exhibits this by respecting individual needs and talents, fostering self-esteem, and encouraging students to live up to their potential. 

Lisa is involved in several programs at Bagby that encourage and assist students in becoming people of character.  She helped to design Bagby’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which supports the social and emotional growth of all students.  She initiated a “Girl’s Lunch” to help deal with bullying issues in the 4th and 5th grades.   She is also the staff sponsor for Student Government, helping students to improve school climate and become more civic minded by giving back to the community through various projects including: One Warm Coat, Second Harvest, and SPCA.

Lisa is also a leader among her colleagues, serving on many leadership committees, such as Bagby Leadership Team, PBIS, School Safety Team, ExCEL (Response to Intervention), Science Leadership Team, Statewide Science Consortium with Foss and the Lawrence Hall of Science, and the Silicon Valley Math Initiative.  She also mentors and assists new teachers as they find their way during the first few years of teaching.

Lisa grew up and attended public school in Sacramento, received her BA in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz, and obtained her teaching credential from San Jose State.  After working as a long term sub in the Cambrian district in 2005, she was hired the following year as a full time teacher at Bagby.

Carol Layman, 2008

Carol is the school counselor at Barbers Hill Primary School in Barbers Hill ISD in Mont Belvieu, Texas. She obtained her Bachelors degree in English and Physical Education from Dickinson State University in Dickinson, North Dakota in 1978 and her Masters degree in School Counseling from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas in 1994.  She taught high school English for 15 years in Fairview, Montana and in Buhler, Kansas. She has been a school counselor for three years in Burrton, Kansas, for two years in Dayton, Texas, two years in Baytown, Texas, and since 2001 in Mont Belvieu, Texas at Barbers Hill ISD.  She is married to Monte, and they have one daughter, Beth, who is a senior at Barbers Hill High School.

In her current role as counselor at Barbers Hill primary School, she teaches guidance classes, counsels individual students and student groups, coordinates the student assistance team, coordinates the testing for the gifted and talented program, and coordinates the parent volunteer program and student mentor program.

And, of course, as educators know well, there are other responsibilities she has that are too numerous to mention here. But the program which she leads that has made a significant impact on students’ emotional and social development is Eagles Serving Others.  One nominator made this comment in his nomination letter: “Eagles Serving Others best exemplifies the kind of person she is.  In this program, children learn to look beyond themselves, to understand that they are part of a community, and that what they do will affect others.  The children learn to be more caring, to be empathetic, and to be a better person.”

The nomination goes on to say, “She is the consummate professional…who is making our school and the world a better place by touching lives. Her true reward will be that what she does for children will be realized long beyond our lifetime.”

Susan Logsdon, 1991

Susan Logsdon is a first grade teacher at the Pine Hill School in Sherborn, MA. Nominators comment, “Her many outstanding achievements throughout the school year are all driven by the same forces: genuine affection and respect for her students; high expectations for achievement; and extraordinary communication skills with both students and parents.  All of these characteristics combine to produce a first grade year of such richness and growth that this outstanding teacher deserves special recognition.”

"News of the Week” is one vehicle that Susan uses for communication.  Throughout the year each child keeps a journal of class events and activities that were particularly important to him or her; and these entries form the basis of the “publication” each week.  In addition to making valuable connections with parents, the children’s work is validated and each child’s self esteem is enhanced. The “News” keeps parents  informed and involved as Ms. Logsdon adds annotations in which she conveys thanks or requests for help on upcoming activities.

Susan is  especially recognized for her contribution to the early childhood program with the development of major thematic units that integrate numerous curriculum areas with related skills for an extended period.  The goal of the unit on Japan, for example, were: to compare and contrast the U.S. culture and Japan’s, to perceive and value differences, to create global awareness while strengthening children’s skills and talents, and to give every child an opportunity for success.  The strategies and activities reflected these goals within disciplines of art, literature, language skills, writing, drama, music, geography, social studies, physical education, cooking, science, and math.

Nominations from her peers include the following endorsements: “Mrs. Logsdon fosters a sense of security in her small charges while developing their creativity, independence, and self esteem.  She chooses topics that are diverse enough so that each child has an opportunity to excel.  She is a master at engaging the enthusiasm of parents in her efforts and communicates in her every act that teachers, parents, and children comprise a team that together can work on education as well as human values and choices.”

Cindy Loper, 2004

Cindy Loper is a Mild to Moderate teacher at Alta Vista Elementary School in the Union Elementary School District in Campbell, CA.  In reviewing the nomination application submitted by Mrs. Loper’s peers, principal and several students’ parents, the kind words and praise submitted by those with whom Cindy works are quite memorable.  What is more difficult to remember, as one reads the innumerable contributions and impact she has made at Alta Vista Elementary School, is that Cindy is only a third year teacher.  It’s quite remarkable and yet it makes perfect sense:  Cindy’s students have special needs and she is obviously a very special teacher.  Here are some of the words that were expressed on her behalf:

From her principal, Barbara Dabel, “It is difficult to describe how Cindy promotes self-esteem...Cindy uses a quiet voice, rephrasing what is said in appropriate words, and encourages each of her ‘friends’.  The students feel empowered to try the task presented….Her approach is light and supportive and touched with humor to encourage the best from each of her students.”  The recommendation letter goes on to explain the difficulty of mainstreaming in a high performing school but explains how Mrs. Loper works to find and develop a student’s strongest area and uses that as a point of entry.

From Seth Ceely, Coordinator of Special Services, “Another area where Cindy excels is in her ability to respond with sensitivity and compassion to the emotional needs of these students.  The students she serves have experienced significant frustration in their attempts to learn.  All too often, school has not been a rewarding place for them.  When these students demonstrate the frustration and the emotional distress that is an understandable byproduct of such experiences, Cindy is able to understand their behavior as an attempt to communicate their feelings...  Her ability to understand how hard learning can be for these students allows her to move beyond their distress and misbehaviors, and begin everyday fresh without a sense of judgment for whatever yesterday’s problems were.  She models forgiveness and kindness, and encourages these qualities in the interactions among her students.”

And lastly, from one of Mrs. Loper’s student’s parent who gives an example of her teaching approach in the nomination.  She writes, “[Our son] kept losing his lunch money because he had a small hole in his backpack.  Rather than telling him to tell me he keeps losing his lunch money, she wrote a note explaining the situation and she asked [our son]  to come up with a strategy so he wouldn’t lose his lunch money.  Cindy teaches her kids to read and write, but also teaches them about life and how to handle the challenges they’ll face long after they leave her classroom.”  This parents closing remarks say, “Cindy Loper is the jewel in our district’s crown and is a shining example of the Goldin Foundations belief that educators play a vital role in supporting young people’s growth and preparing them for their futures.” 

Margaret Lydon, 2008

Margaret Lydon is a first grade teacher at Memorial Elementary School in Natick.  And yet, that label of ‘first grade teacher’ is only the barest of beginnings to describe Margaret’s instructional practice.  Many are aware of the awesome responsibility that is assumed by first grade teachers.  They introduce their students to so many aspects of school and learning that are going to critical to their academic, social and emotional success.  Margaret embraces that challenge and has done so for many years.  Her colleagues report that she makes it look easy.”

With her students, Margaret works tirelessly so that all can be successful.  That means working with students for how ever long it takes, even if that means after school hours.  It means examining her practice to continuously improve.  As one nominator commented, “It is never trends or fads, new materials nor gurus that sway her; only the evidence of what works best for children.  As reforms came along, Margaret held fast to what she knew was good for children and at the same time embraced new practices.”  Margaret’s classroom is child-centered and she continually looks for how to make learning meaningful to children.  If you ask any of Margaret’s students about what they remember about first grade, many will tell you about hatching chicks from eggs – what a great way to learn about life cycles!  Margaret’s initial teaching experience was as a special education teacher.  That early training and work with special needs children has served her well as a mainstream classroom teacher.  She has a ‘tool bag’ that would be the envy of us all and truly understands that all children learn differently.

 But teaching doesn’t begin and end with the students.  Margaret understands that and has reached out to the parents of her students in many ways.  She developed and implemented ‘Family Math Night’, an evening in which parents and students explore a wide variety of math activities and strategies.  Margaret is also a valuable resource for her students’ parents.  With her experiences with a wide range of students, Margaret provides important information to parents about how their child learns as well as what they should expect from their child in first grade.  She has also made curriculum presentations to parents.

Teachers work within their school community and also within a district.  Beyond teaching children and interacting with their parents, we also work with colleagues.  One of the great parts of the Goldin Award for Excellence in Education is that one’s colleagues most often do the nominating.  It is clear that Margaret, in addition to being a superb first grade teacher, is also a valued colleague.  She is a generous and committed mentor of new teachers, even when she is not the formal mentor.  Several nominators describe how instrumental Margaret has been in their development as educators – with ‘nuts and bolts’ advice, a sympathetic ear, and unending encouragement.  As an experienced teacher, Margaret has willingly shared her expertise and insights as a member of the child study team in her school.  Her background in special education has been particularly valuable in that setting as she has helped teachers with useful and appropriate strategies.  Margaret is a member of her school council, working with parents and administrators to shape the vision and initiatives of the school.  She has also worked on several district-wide curriculum development initiatives as well as the NEASC accreditation team.

Many students, parents, and colleagues have benefited from Margaret’s expertise, commitment to teaching and learning, and generosity of spirit.  She is a valuable asset to her school community.


Ariela Mahoney, 1995

Imagine a kindergarten teacher who has spent the last thirty-three years in the same classroom, who has had such boundless energy, creativity, and love that no two years have been taught the same way.  That teacher is Ariela Mahoney, a kindergarten teacher at the Mitchell School In Needham.

Aja, as she is known to her colleagues and friends, escaped from Czechoslovakia with her family at the age of eight, leaving all possessions behind.  She came to MA by way of Texas.  After attending Wheaton College for a year, she went on to graduate from Boston University with a B.A. in Government and Philosophy and a minor in Education.  During her last two years at B.U., she volunteered two days a week at the Brooks School in Concord.  After graduation, she worked there for a year and completed her certification requirements.   Ever since then, Aja has dedicated herself to the children of Needham.

In September, 1994, Aja received the Superintendent’s Service Award for her annual kindergarten picnic on her farm, “Trelawney Farm” in Freemont, NH.  The picnic includes horse and pony rides, frog catching in the duck pond, fishing, nature walks, and a variety of other activities that are only available on a working farm.  About one hundred fifty students and their families take part on this special day.

Aja brings the farm into her classroom with a multitude of cooking and craft projects that integrate all subject areas.  Recently, much has been written in education journals about “constructivist “ classrooms.  Aja was practicing constructivism in 1961, thirty years before educators understood its value.  Each year Aja teaches an integrated unit about Thanksgiving that ends with a Thanksgiving feast prepared by the children, complete with turkeys cooked overnight in a wood burning oven. As well as bringing daily information of farm life to her students via a three hour commute most mornings, Ms. Mahoney consistently brings fresh flowers, fresh vegetables, and farm animals to her classroom in order to engage the children in active, hands-on learning experiences with real life objects.

A colleague, Margaret Hanna, said the following concerning Aja Mahoney,” I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Ms. Mahoney for the past one and a half years, as we have worked together to build an enriching, cooperative program for our kindergarteners.  For these past few years, I have found her dedication and commitment to the learning process of young children to be outstanding and astonishing.  She spends hours of her free time planning and educating herself in order to build a well rounded program for all kindergarten children.”

Aja has been a lifelong student.  Each year she has made a point to take two or three in-service courses a or courses at a local college.  Her studies range from Whole Language, Math, Creative Reading and Writing to Puppetry and the Rights of Children.  Aja is always searching for new staff development opportunities, and she is presently working towards a Master’s Degree at Lesley College.

In her own words, she states, ”When my career as a kindergarten teacher is completed, I intend to continue teaching either at the college level or in the “workshop” field.  A further goal is the creation and publication of my own kindergarten curriculum.”

Over the years, Aja has gone above and beyond the expected duties of an educator by sharing so much of her knowledge and creativity with others,  Her principal, William Ribas, comments,” Her integrated approach to teaching, emphasis on teaching with “real life” situations and materials, and recognition of the importance of parent involvement decades before they became common practice illustrates her innate ability to provide children with the most beneficial learning experiences.  Aja Mahoney truly is a fascinating and remarkable person, and a dedicated and gifted teacher.”

Michelle Makinson, 2013

 Michelle Makinson is a Grade 4 Teacher at Bagby Elementary School, Cambrian School District in San Jose, CA.  Words used to describe Michelle Makinson are "going beyond, creative lessons, exemplary conduct, enthusiastic leader and participant."

For eight years, Michelle has been the “heart beat” of the Project Cornerstone initiative at Bagby. She continues to lead and develop the program which focuses on a respectful school community.  For three years, students have published “Together Magazine; they research and write the articles, which are shared with the entire school community. Parents, too have been included, who contribute time and supplies to running the magazine project.

Michelle is committed to the growth of each student and respects their individual needs and talents. Every student is valued in her class. She will research strategies for effectively reaching a child who is need. While working with her students, Michelle challenges them, “You can and I can help you discover how to do it.” 

Michelle goes and beyond in reaching out to the entire school community. She has donated countless hours to Bagby’s Project Cornerstone and PBIS – Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports programs. Her class produced skits and plays for full school assemblies illustrating behavioral expectations such as anti-bullying. Michelle coordinated a student poster contest illustrating the “3 Bagby Be’s: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible.” This contest has become an annual tradition. Michelle serves on several leadership committees including the School Intervention Committee that focuses on at-risk students to increase their academic success. She is also the treasurer for the Cambrian District Teachers’ Association.

Michelle collaborates with other teachers.  A new teacher wrote in her nomination letter, “Michelle has continuously supported and invested in me. She regularly goes above and beyond her existing responsibilities to ensure my success and provide support whenever necessary.” Also, Michelle has paired with teachers in other grades; for example, she has team taught with  Maria Montes, a first grade teacher to improve writing and science skills,

Michelle Makinson is an exemplary teacher-leader. Her principal, Kathy Kimpel, notes, “She represents all that is right with teachers.  She engages in professional growth, provides innovative programs for the classroom, school and district, and she collaborates beautifully with the entire educational community she serves.  Exemplary dedication to her students, her school, and her community will be her legacy as a teacher.”

Michelle Marion, 2012

Michelle Marion, serves as the Bilingual Kindergarten Teacher at McFee Elementary School in Cy-Fair ISD,  Cypress, Texas.

The Goldin Foundation seeks committed educators who are innovative and willing to go beyond their job description to create an environment that empowers students for success; Michelle Marion does just that.  She impacts lives from kindergarten to adults - not only in her own district but in the surrounding communities as well.

In the classroom, Michelle’s job is to help students whose home language is not English to learn skill sets in English.  She has used inspiring ideas such as having the students perform plays to help the students speak and practice English fluency and she hosts after school parties for the children to celebrate their academic achievements.  She has helped to foster a love of learning in these students.

In addition to her classroom duties, Michelle chooses to do other people-oriented tasks including tutoring third and fourth grade students; coordinating a “Fit-Girls” program for fourth and fifth grade student, tutoring in the Saturday camps to support academic success, and running parent education classes in her own school as well as in other nearby communities. 

One of the programs that Michelle created that is close to her heart is a “Breakfast Club” for fifth grade girls to help focus on inner beauty rather than outward success.  This program encourages students to push past the negative norms that are being given to girls regarding viewing themselves through messages that define women by how they look.  She helps them to look at the power they have within themselves to become wonderful people who care about others and themselves.  Their self-confidence grows and it impacts other areas of their lives.  This program has helped girls to realize their worth, and students are begging to be a part of the program for next year!

Michelle Marion’s work at McFee Elementary exemplifies the standard of being a great educator and a great person as she cares about people – not just the ones she is most closely associated with, but she touches all people she comes in contact with regardless of age or even what community they reside.

Genoveva Matheus, 2009

Genoveva Matheus, Instructional Technology Specialist at the Willard School in Concord, MA is a dedicated educator, a talented visionary, and a wonderful collaborator.


Growing up in Puerto Rico, she became interested in environmental science while a teenager. One summer, she came to the U.S. to study environmental science and decided to attend college in the States. She met her husband when she was a college student. When her daughter Kayla was young, Genoveva enjoyed volunteering in Kayla’s pre-school. That’s when she got the “education bug.” While working in the schools, Genoveva earned her Technology Specialist’s degree at Lesley University.


Genoveva’s job requires her to work closely with students and teachers: she needs to build relationships with both groups. As the technology specialist, Genoveva has trained staff to use the ActivBoard and Web 2.0. She is the staff advisor to the Willard School Literary magazine, The Beanstalk, and she was instrumental in turning the Willard Radio Show into a series of podcasts called The Beanpod.


Genoveva has also presented at EDCO (Education Collaborative) and the Mass Cue Conference. In addition, she has taken a leadership role in defining the vision for the technology needs of the new Willard school facility. She offers the Willard Community not just ONE fantastic project or class or activity, but multiple ones, and everything she does is done with a high level of skill and professionalism, as well as with ease, grace, passion, energy, and joy. It is Genoveva's belief in teachers and the pride she takes in their hard work that is her gift. She encourages and supports them when trying something new, and she never fails to be there for her staff and students.


Genoveva figures out ways to accommodate students with special needs so they too feel satisfied with their contributions. She takes in stride the glitches that inevitably occur, calmly sorting out the problem or finding a new approach. Her patience and supportive nature inspires confidence in students of all abilities. 

Ruth Mathewson, 2007

Ruth Mathewson, is a Performing Arts Teacher at Baker Elementary School in the Moreland School District, in San Jose, CA 

Excitement, electricity, enthusiasm, is what you feel when you speak to Ruth Mathewson about her teaching. She will tell you how blessed she is to be working with children to help them learn through music, dance, and drama. Having taught performing arts for twenty-seven years, Ruth's face begins to glow as she relates story after story where performing arts influenced a child's life.

Ruth's principal, Colette Zea, writes in her nomination letter, "Mrs. Mathewson's knowledge of music, drama and dance, combined with her energy, commitment, and love for teaching enable her to create integrated music lessons that capture the attention of her students from the minute they walk into her classroom until the lesson ends. On any given day, a visitor to her classroom hears the children sing about multiplication facts, geography or parts of speech. And they do so with excitement. Every minute of instruction time is utilized to ensure the academic success of each student. The students are completely engaged as they hang on every word she says."

Some second graders at Baker Elementary interviewed Mrs. Mathewson and they wrote, "She has a unique style with the elementary school students. She gives them a voice, she gives them choices and respect and treats them like adults." The second graders must feel like Mrs. Mathewson really respects them if they are feeling they are being treated as equal as an adult. This was also evidenced in a nomination letter from a colleague, Julie Migdol, when she wrote how Ruth went our of her way to include students with special needs and how she makes each child feel special by building their self-esteem through music, dance, and drama.

Parents, fellow teachers, administration, and students recognize what a gifted, loving, caring, person, Ruth Mathewson is. Her letters of nomination reflect on her abilities as a teacher to motivate and inspire students to "work hard and go for your dreams," as Ruth was quoted saying in a local newspaper article about her Baker Singers. Ruth gives up her lunchtime and personal time to ensure that these students have opportunities to shine.  And they do shine in their many performances in the school and the wider community. 

This year Ruth will have directed twenty-six performances.  All of the Baker School students in the Moreland School District profit from having her as leader of the performing arts curriculum.

Jennifer Mauk, 2007

Jennifer Mauk is a First Grade teacher at Southside Primary School in Cleveland, Texas. Bobbie Fagan, Principal of Southside Primary School, said, "Jennifer is a dedicated individual who models her belief that every child can learn.  She is a quality teacher who works tirelessly to reach each child in her classroom.  Her never-give-up attitude has made her a master teacher."  Cora Tullar, Southside's Assistant Principal, described Mauk this way: "Jennifer is an astounding individual.  When you meet her you are impressed by her inviting smile, her confidence, and her enthusiasm.  She has the gift of determination, and she is loved by her students, her parents, and her peers."

"Mauk's good character, unshakable morals, and trustworthy attitude place her in high regard in our community.  Not only is she an outstanding educator, but she is an outstanding person as well," said Guylene Robertson, Assistant Superintendent.

Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Mauk has been a teacher for five years.  She graduated from Baylor University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.  She began substitute teaching in a local elementary school, and, because she loved the children and loved teaching, she began training to be a teacher in the Region 4 Education Service Center Alternative Certification Program.  After successfully completing the certification program at Region 4, Mauk began teaching first grade in Cleveland. Mauk spoke about her experience by saying, "I am so blessed to be a part of a job that I love so much.  I have found my place in the world, teaching children."

Donna Maxwell, 2011

 Donna Maxwell is an Art Teacher at Potter Road School in Framingham,  MA. Upon entering her classroom, there is a sign by the door. It reads: “Art, what is it all about?”  Donna answers the questions with: “It is about rendering that which your mind whispers to your hand.” One would think that such a complex definition of art would be lost by elementary age students. However, it is clear that all students embrace this mantra.  Students are spoken to like artists. Their opinions and thoughts are all heard and respected.  All students within her classes are fully engrossed in their art projects. They regard their works as “masterpieces.” Students express their ideas and thoughts whether it is through 2-Dimensional or 3-Dimensional media, and they truly embrace the artistic process.

Donna helps instill confidence in her students by displaying their artwork throughout the school, in town libraries, and in local stores. She has had her students’ artwork published in magazines and featured at the New England Spring Flower Show. Last year, students in fifth grade created storyteller figures out of clay. The students wrote stories for their figures, which were recited at a special Story Teller Night at Barnes and Nobles.  Donna does not just teach art; she has created an art program that goes beyond Potter Road Elementary School.

Ms. Maxwell brings in guest artists and speakers to her classroom.  Last year an environmental artist came and spoke to students about the threat of plastics in the ocean.  Donna had the students respond to the speaker by creating their own 3-Dimensional coral reef.  Students have also worked collaboratively on a weaving using the colors of Haitian flag to memorialize the disaster in Haiti. The lessons taught in Donna’s classroom are truly life lessons. A colleague writes, “Donna not only motivates her students and colleagues, but also cultivates a rich appreciation for how art defines an individual, a society, and the world.”

Within Potter Road Elementary School, Donna is a true team player.  She collaborates with other teachers and creates cross curriculum projects such as interpreting music through sculpture and writing poetry about art.  She hosts an All Student Art Show yearly and arranges funds for the 5th grade to travel to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. 

Donna Maxwell’s enthusiasm, dedication, and inspirational persona make her an educator of excellence.

Eileen Moore, 2008

Eileen Moore has been called the “heart and soul” of Loma Prieta Elementary School in Loma Prieta School District, CA.  Her principal, Corey Kidwell notes that “Her love of life and kids is contagious.  She has taught the kids and the kids of our kids how to respect themselves, strive to do more, and to always to do their best.”

The Developmental Physical Education Program that Eileen runs is one in which every child can achieve.  The approach is about challenging one’s self, supporting the achievement of others, and developing life long skills of confidence, caring, and responsibility.  Eileen consistently uses positive reinforcement to motivate her students and remind them they are not competing against their peers but setting individual goals to reach their personal best.  Her physical and health education program is so valued that the community is extensively supporting it through annual donations.

To note some examples of the popular curriculum and activities:

  • Ø   Children learn their muscles by name and the exercises they can do to improve their strength.

  • Ø   Children are motivated to exercise at home and at recess.  They bring in exercise pictures and notes from home in which they receive recognition on an Exercise Wall of Fame.

  • Ø   Eileen has incorporated the fine arts in developing high-energy instruction in the area of dance. 

  • Ø   Her 5th grade students are achieving at the highest level for the state .  They have been taking the very challenging Presidential Physical Fitness Test since 1990, with over one-third earning this prestigious award. in 2006.

  • Ø   Administration values the P.E. program and has expanded it for Eileen to work with special need students one-on-one to meet their specific needs.

In addition to the numerous community events in which she partakes, Eileen volunteers hundreds of hours during the annual Jog-a-thon, which engulfs the entire community for a day.  Parents and siblings come to school to run with and/or encourage their children.  All children jog for twenty-five minutes and try to improve their personal best from the previous year.  This event can be described as a huge fun loving party that includes music, food, and the volunteer fire department’s unique “cool down.”

Eileen can earn the trust and respect of the most skeptical 5th grader, and she can dance with abandon with a Kindergarten class.  She can transform an awkward obese child into one who values his body, personal power and health.  She can support reading development through well articulated motor integration training.  Eileen has engaged an entire community across generational lines to think positively, act positively and support the mind/body connection.  Everyone can  learn from her!

Melissa Morabito, 2008

Melissa Morabito is an exemplary teacher, who approaches all she meets with a smile, a helping hand, and a wealth of knowledge.  She is described by her colleagues as passionate, positive, energetic, competent, collegial and humble.  She exemplifies everything a principal, colleague and child hopes for in a teacher.  Most notably, Melissa knows and cares about each individual.  Her principal described her as the heart of the school.

Her co-teachers describe her as a role model for her students as well as the greater Nixon school community.  She differentiates curriculum to meet the needs of all her students.  She begins each new year by greeting her class with, How ARE YOU SMART?, rather than How smart are you?  Multiple intelligences surveys are familiar to her students, and, her class actually presented a poem about Multiple Intelligence to the entire school.

Melissa is also described as a dedicated teacher who demands academic success through her tireless efforts in differentiating curriculum and creating a positive atmosphere where her message is clear to each student that they CAN and WILL succeed.  How does she do this?

Ø       First, she created a booklet entitled, Meeting the Diverse Needs of Students. Teachers stated that this manual has proved to be invaluable to them.

Ø       Secondly, in the area of Language Arts, she combines Lucy Caulkins Unit of Study with EmPower language and planning strategies to improve writing skills.

Ø       In science, Melissa helped develop “Science Vocabulary Treasures” concept and vocabulary notebooks to help student who are struggling with retention of science information.

Ø       In Math, she created “Double-Dose,” a morning math program to reinforce skills, along with Math Forum to develop innovative ideas to insure success of math skills.

Ø      She participates in MAST to help METCO students review challenging concepts presented during the day.

Melissa is also instrumental as a staff member.  She helped implement grade level teaming where teachers had to identify their strengths and then teach that content area.  When there was a problem with the fourth grade trip, Melissa joined the group to review the purpose and present a solution that was acceptable to all.  She is also a wonderful mentor to new teachers and conscientious union representative.

Horace Mann said it best when he stated, “Teachers teach because they care.  Teaching young people is what they do best.  It requires long hours, patience and care.”  Melissa exemplifies these words. Yoga teachers end their classes with the message that Melissa sends out each day to all she meets, “ Namaste!”  which means “I see the greatness in you, and you see the greatness in me.”

Robin Moriarty, 2007

Robin Moriarty is a Second Grade Teacher at the Cabot School In Newton, MA. Robin attended Tufts University and Hampshire College where she graduated with a BS in K-8 Education.  Previously she worked in Needham and taught all grades K-8 except grade four. She recently worked at EDC, the Educational Development Corporation, where she designed and taught online conferences on science and literacy.  Working in a highly robust setting with teams of educators who serve a critical function, Robin identified cutting edge researched based professional development.  Her work with schools has been instrumental in effecting instructional change.

 Robin has been published in Science for Children and has made several presentations at professional organizations including NAEYC and the New England Kindergarten Conference.She joined the Newton Public Schools in 2005 and Cabot School is a better school as a result!Robin has a subtle yet powerful presence at Cabot School. While she may say she is a novice, her comments apply only to her work in Newton. She is very humble and would be the last to acknowledge the many ways in which she has impacted the school, her colleagues, her students and parents.  She is truly an outstanding teacher who understands the power of inquiry for learning sake.  Whatever the content, Robin takes on each lesson with fresh eyes.  In the last two years no two lessons have looked the same.  

It is quite an experience to see Robin create magic in her classroom. She craftfully guides and coaches, cheers, scaffolds and differentiates her lessons. She is sincere in her interest for each child to be taught in a manner that is best suited for that child.  Walking into her room during a science lesson on gravity you may find some children writing predictions in journals and others building ramps or dropping objects from varying heights.  Everyone in her class will learn in a style created just for them! Her colleagues and parents have said about her many wonderful things including:

 Each morning she greets her children with a warm smile and an “I am glad to see you look!”   Her honesty, sincerity and zest for teaching come through all day every day!”

 “Robin attends monthly consultation meetings with parents.  She presents information in a competent, articulate manner with sensitivity towards parents.  She never hesitates to try a different approach, rearrange a busy schedule or work with new and creative materials.”

 “Robin embodies everything that I hope to achieve as a teacher someday.”

 “She has a wonderful sense of humor, is fun to be with, is unusually kind and caring about all people she interacts with daily!”

 Robin is in charge of the morning and afternoon greeting and send off.  She is also involved in many other educational endeavors such as the class newspapers, District Math Coach, School Coucil Member, as well as participating in PTO events and activities. The Cabot School is fortunate to have this wonderful teacher on its staff.

Bonnie Muir, 2007


Bonnie Muir is the Art Teacher at Elmwood Elementary School in Hopkinton, MA.

No matter what our role in education is, we hold the word ‘connections’ in very high regard.  Knowing that as students make ‘connections’ their understanding deepens, we strive to provide cross-curricular opportunities and integrate the curriculum wherever and whenever possible.  And when arts educators join hands with classroom teachers in this endeavor, the outcomes are magical.  And that’s just what has been happening at the Elmwood School for the past four years since the arrival of Bonnie Muir.

After graduating from Massachusetts College of Art, Ms. Muir taught at Cohasset High School for five years before transferring to Hopkinton in the fall of 2003 where she was able to follow her true passion for working with elementary school ‘artists’. Bonnie has recently completed her Masters degree at Mass Art; and has received the Teaching for Artistic Behavior Leadership Award and the Stephen Gray Award from the Hopkinton Education Foundation for the most innovative grant of the year - which was accompanied by an $8500 grant to purchase and install a kiln in order to add the use of clay to her students’ art experiences.

Elmwood School houses almost 550 second and third graders – and according to their principal, Ilene Silver, “They all love art.”  She wrote that “Ms. Muir has created a remarkable learning community, in which each student feels valued and special.  It is a model program, empowering students by fostering their creativity and curiosity.” 

Mrs. R-T, a second grade teacher at Elmwood School, confirms how Ms. Muir brings out the creative artist in every child and how her influence ‘bubbles up’ in classes outside of the art room.  She tells of: complex designs and shapes that utilize perspective appearing in math lessons, creative instruments being designed for a science project and crafts and art treasures made at home used to supplement oral reports. Connections are being made every day in many ways.

Marian Strangfeld, Hopkinton’s K-12 Fine Arts Coordinator, stated that every time she visits Bonnie Muir’s classroom she leaves smiling.  Her art room is such a happy place; unique in that the children are treated as artists in a studio, encouraged to choose how they wish to express themselves.  In her nominating letter, she wrote, “It is the most vibrant and exciting elementary art program I have ever seen.” Chris Basile obviously agreed when she wrote, “Bonnie exudes the energy, the knowledge and the creative instincts to create an empowering environment with an emphasis on each young artist developing their own confidence in expressing their unique individuality.”  She also told us how to check out Ms. Muir’s classroom online.  At her BLOG ( or access it by googling Elmwood School Hopkinton), you’ll see: Second Grade potters with their Pinch Pots, Scribble Drawings that require creative problem solving skills so that none of the three colors share a wall, Beautiful Stuff Sculptures, Artist Trading Cards, Recycled Art Weavings, Transformed Fly Swatters, and 600 Spinning Pinwheels. There’s also a way to leave comments and access the 2005 and 2006 archives!  In each photo you’ll see the smiles and eyes of young ‘artists’ sparkling with pride and confidence.

The educational community of Hopkinton in recognizes her innovative choice-based art program  With the skill to help students see connections across the curriculum and the drive to reach out to the community to support and appreciate 537 young artists.

Kristin Nelson, 1996

Kristin Nelson, a kindergarten teacher at Hillside Elementary School in Needham, is described by her nominators as "creative, dynamic, intellectually curious, gentle, calm, warm, supportive, caring, a collaborator, an excellent writer, values joy and laughter in her classroom." There is an energy and enthusiasm that emanates from Kristin and her classroom. Her principal, Andrea Wong, says," Kristin will always occupy Room 2 because she is a wonderful first impression of our school as you enter the foyer. She is always calm, always smiling, and always finding great pleasure in small children. " Her classroom supports her belief that the classroom belongs to children, should showcase their work, and provide teaching and learning opportunities for them. A visitor might see large dinosaurs that are painted and hung by the children. Nearby is a plaster footprint, a diorama, and a poem, What's for Lunch," which teaches the vocabulary "herbivore" and "carnivore." Hanging in the classroom is a growing number line showing the number of days in school. In addition to teaching students to deal with two and three digit numbers, certain numbers are color coded. Even numbers are underlined in blue and multiples of five are red. Daily routines like the line graph weather chart and the calendar made up of shapes cut and numbered by students are used to teach a variety of concepts and skills. The children enjoy doing tallies using fruit or vegetable snacks.

Kristin extends a wholehearted invitation to parents to come into the classroom and take an active role in their child's educational process. Some parents come by to read a book while others are frequent volunteers. One teacher-parent collaboration resulted in an interdisciplinary quilting project planned and coordinated by parents. The project integrated Mathematics, Language Arts, and Social Studies. The children engaged in hands-on learning to enhance their knowledge of shapes, colors, patterns, and to improve their spatial orientation and visual perception skills. They learned the history of quilting through stories read aloud. They used tangrams, pattern blocks and cuisinaire rods to explore symmetry and patterns. Parents worked with small groups to help the children write their own stories about quilting and to make the quilt itself. The finished quilts were hung in the school for all to enjoy and later were displayed in a nearby nursing home. The project was so successful that Kristin has received funding to extend the project to all the kindergarten classes next year,

Kristin collaborates with other teachers in her school and in the broader system. She works on a daily basis with two aides and an occupational therapist in her inclusive classroom. She teams with teachers at the grade levels to develop activities that benefit both groups, such as an activity correlated with the fourth grade study of the circulatory system in which students took each other's heartbeat at rest and after exercise and then constructed graphs to dramatize their results.

Kristin wrote a proposal to revamp the kindergarten screening process for the town of Needham. One professional day found her working at the Science Center to develop an integrated and well designed science curriculum and then moving on to observe a peer teacher.

Kristin's peers see her as an emerging teacher who will continue to grow as a significant contributor in her own school community and at the system wide level.

June O'Neill and Eleanor Gusti, 1998

June O'Neill and Eleanor Gusti are special education liaisons at the Hillside Elementary School in Needham. O'Neill's and Giusti's leadership laid the foundation for inclusionary practice throughout the Needham Public Schools. Moving beyond a successful resource room concept , they developed an innovative training and supervision program for teaching assistants.

O'Neill and Giusti maintain constant connections with these assistants to model and effect appropriate teaching , transition, and inclusion strategies for students. They also work in an ongoing supportive and collaborative manner with parents, classroom teachers, specialists and administrators to ensure that each child develops his or her own individual talents and positive self-esteem while strengthening areas of need. This exemplary model has been replicated in other school buildings throughout the district.

Both O'Neill and Giusti are educators with years of experience. Long before inclusion was mandated, O'Neill began a program back in the early 70's for children with learning difficulties which became known as the Transition Learning Center or TLC Program. Children had regular opportunities to work with her and other teachers in a resource room for periods of time, while integrated within classrooms for many activities. The new model of working with students having special needs is a result of O'Neill's pursuit of excellence, energy, perseverance, and relentless advocacy for children.

Giusti began her careers as a regular education teacher working for a Peace Corps-like group in the mountains of Puerto Rico. As a sixth and third grade teacher in Natick, her interest in learning disabled students peaked, and she pursued a full-time master's degree in special education. She then continued her work as an educational diagnostician and resource teacher at Natick working on a semi-inclusive model that involved mainstreaming and a pull-out tutorial. Since 1990, she has served as a full-time resource teacher for special needs students in Needham.

Together, O'Neill and Giusti are a formidable team. As advocates for all children, they worked on an initiative for Community Outreach and partnerships, finding assistance for Hillside families including housing, food, child care and more. They took a leadership role in implementation of Project Read for Needham Schools, which includes strands of instruction for phonics and written expression. They have been mentors for Boston College interns in addition to helping them find employment.

"Because of June and Elli's efforts, I have seen children who never have spoken before coming to Hillside. I have seen children whose educational plans are no longer needed because they have learned the strategies needed to progress. I have watched and experienced their heartbreak when a child's needs are beyond our abilities, thereby necessitating a placement elsewhere. I have also shared their joys when children thrive at Hillside because of their talents after years of private placement. June and Elli are consummate professionals who make me proud to be their colleague," said Hillside Principal Andrea Wong.

Connie Owens, 1997

Connie Owens is a First Grade teacher at the Broadmeadow School in Needham. According to her nominators, Connie has tirelessly worked to foster growth and uncover potential in her students and colleagues for more than thirty years. She has continuously demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism, sensitivity, and caring to both students and staff members. Of special note are her contributions to multi-cultural education and her mentorship of novice and preservice teachers.

Stephanie Hamel, Fourth Grade teacher states, "Under Connie's watchful and trained eye, anxious first graders develop as confident learners excited about learning and the school environment. I have witnessed her magic many times! School assemblies, classroom plays, and grade level productions all take on new meanings for first graders as they visit and learn with Ms. Owens. Drying tears, tying shoelaces, and helping with stuck zippers are only a part of a first grade teacher's day. Her expertise in understanding the developmental needs of five and six year olds students is unparalled." A loving, gentle guide, Connie paves the way for an exciting first year of growth for the typical student who has learned to put letters together to make meaning and receives pleasure from written language, and who has progressed from knowing rote counting skills to understanding how to compute, estimate, predict, measure, and solve problems with confidence.

Among the many gifts Connie has given her students over the years is an opportunity to see beyond themselves toward a larger community awareness and improving the area in which they live. She is an advocate for the rights of each individual and has initiated numerous multicultural awareness projects. Several years ago, Connie was instrumental in initiating the "Ready to Feed" program at Broadmeadow where children obtained reading sponsors and raised money for Mexican farmers through the Heifer Project. Other relief efforts have mobilized her first graders and students throughout the school for Hurricane Andrew and the Kyoto, Japan earthquake victims. Her interest in multicultural education and social justice have led to several musical productions by the school and advocacy for the rights of all individuals, as witnessed by the outstanding mural in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on display in the lobby of the Broadmeadow School, which Connie coordinated. She has developed other school-wide programs that have celebrated the lives and contributions of African-American writers, artists, and historical figures. When the integrated Spanish program was introduced, Connie researched and developed a Cinco de Mayo show that celebrated the Mexican holiday, which enlisted the talents of the physical education, music and art teachers and parents. Throughout her career, she has been consistent in her efforts to promote world peace and respect for all peoples.

Equally important, Connie has left a gift for her profession. Her friend and co-worker, Rebecca Zieminski writes, "Connie exemplifies the great teacher we all hope to become." Connie has mentored, in both formal and informal situations, many, many novice and pre-service teachers at Broadmeadow School. She willingly share her ideas, materials, and enthusiasm for teaching." Anne Whitredge, her principal comments, "When a novice teacher writes his/her statement applying for professional status after three years of teaching, invariably Connie's name is mentioned as a key person in the professional development of that teacher. She consistently provides guidance, assistance, and unlimited resources to help and support so many new teachers. Our staff owes her an enormous debt for her time, energy, and sensitivity. She truly understands the hopes, needs, frustrations, and excitement which comes to all new teachers."

Barbara Pack, 1999

Barbara Pack is a Fourth Grade Teacher at the Pine Hill School in Sherborn. According to her nominators, Barbara is a skilled and dedicated professional who continues each year to expand and enhance her already impressive repertoire of skills."   She has been described as a woman with a "special kind of social intelligence, a morale booster, a positive force, a person who knows the right thing to say in a difficult situation."  Serving as an exemplary model for students and peers, she is an active learner herself, taking the two year course "Understanding Teaching" and directly participating with her students in an exciting Poetry in Residence Program. She has been a leader in the area of alternative assessment, making wonderful use of open-ended responses to enhance thinking skills.  "She is a master in differentiation of curriculum and is able to provide a challenging program for all children.  The personal relationship established with each student provides a key component of a very unique classroom environment.  The enthusiasm for learning that Barbara nurtures will stay with a student through high school."

Barbara introduced the "looping" concept to Pine Hill School. The philosophy is one in which one teacher takes responsibility for a class of students for two consecutive years.  Looping allows students to make a smooth transition educationally and socially from one grade to the next. Little time is lost in making adjustments to a new teacher and class. Today Barbara teaches a fourth grade class that she has "looped" from third grade,  and the concept has been implemented in three additional classes.

There is an expression used often in referring to teachers, "You're no longer the sage on the stage, but the guide on the side."  Barbara is true to these words.  Her students  hiked Mt. Wachuset to learn to use a compass and map; they dug through rocks to learn about geology; they wrote a cookbook of ethnic family recipes called "The Hungry Belly," and they staged a reenactment of a festival during Colonial times from the book "Kneeknock Rise."  Perhaps her most noteworthy curriculum related achievement has been the creation of a year-long integrated unit based on the movie, "Dances with Wolves."  The highly creative writing and social studies unit using Native Americans as the theme engaged children in  create  a detailed and expressive book of writings, poetry, and even a sequel to the movie which was sent to the screenwriter of the film. Students made houses and teepees, sat around a campfire reading journal entries.  This unit has expanded to other fourth grades

Barbara graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Education and went on to receive a Master of arts in Guidance and counseling at Teachers College, Columbia University, She has served as a Smoke-enders Teacher, motivating and adults to change their behaviors   As President of the Dover-Sherborn Education Foundation, Barbara promoted quality education through public recognition and fundraising.  She has also been a member of the Faculty Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors of the MA Teachers Association.

Shannon Paige, 2013

Shannon Paige is Speech Therapist for Matzke Elementary School in Cy-Fair ISD, TX. 

Nominators for Shannon state that she is an outstanding teacher and cite her exemplary qualities:

  • She gives non-verbal students, struggling with communication a voice.

  • She has a passion for children that drives her to push the boundaries of excellence.

  • She is s a champion of special needs children with communication difficulties.

  • Shannon expects success; therefore, she finds success.

  • She has high expectations for student performance.

  • She understands the importance of making connections and building relationships with students in helping to engage and motivate students to learn.

  • She is committed to push our special children to reach for what others see as impossible.

  • Her leadership, loyalty, and hard work are an inspiration to all.

Shannon has developed, refined, and implemented a core communication board that has opened up the world of communication for the most challenging students.  Children who cannot speak or communicate clearly have been given the capabilities to communicate with this system.  They are taught the symbols, words, and signs on this board, and learn how to speak to people using this communication board.  They can realize that they can voice their wants and needs to teachers, parents, peers, and all staff members on their campus.    She has done this across all academic settings:  inclusion classrooms, life skills classrooms, and PPCD/Pre-kindergarten classrooms.  She has taken this concept of the communication board and trained teachers and paraprofessionals on her campus, in her district, and at various meetings across the state.  She has also trained parents of her students, so they could have a voice at home.  She gives a voice to those students who might never be heard.

Judith Paradis, 2007

Judith Paradis is the Media Specialist at Plymptom Elementary School in Waltham, MA . “This is no ordinary book lady” is the title given to media specialist Judith Paradis in her nomination packet.  One of Judi’s nominator’s stated “Carrying out her required duties is only a small part of what Judi does. It’s all the things she initiates beyond her job description that make her remarkable – all the things that take hours away from her family, all the things that bring smiles to children’s faces because they think they are the most special person in the world when they are around her, all the things that staff members take for granted because we have become accustomed to her brilliance.”

Judi has secured grants for special programming at the Plympton Elementary School in Waltham where she runs her mini –Barnes and Nobles.  Judi runs Book Fairs, which have raised over $1000, Book Swaps, a Book Buddy Program for 2nd and 5th grade students and motivational contests for children at all reading levels including learning disabled children.  She also runs a weekly enrichment program that targets proficient readers and supports them in student-directed literacy activities which keeps them motivated, challenged, and excited about learning and reading.

Judi believes that with the ever accumulating amounts of information that children receive, research skills are even more important to develop.  Judi supports teacher instruction by helping to coordinate grade level research projects.  She provides formal class instruction while paying attention to individual needs, from photo-copying articles and finding reference books that match each child’s reading ability.

Judi is one of the primary leaders in the school’s focus on multi-cultural awareness emphasizing one continent per year. She works closely with classroom teachers and specialists. She is always there help write a grant such as bringing African folk music to the school, help a child become an expert in an area of study, or video tape a child’s presentation so that parents unable to attend can borrow the tapes. 

Judi was recently invited to be a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, the oldest Women Educator Society International.  As stated in her nomination “She raises the bar for us all and serves the school and district with excellence every day”

Erick Porter, 2003

Erick Porter is a third and fourth grade teacher at Sartorette School  in the Cambrian School District.  As noted by his nominators, Erick has the ability to consistently get outstanding academic results from his students while teaching a well-rounded curriculum. He has excellent rapport with students and parents and is highly respected by all parents who have had their children in his class. Each year he has had students far below grade level, as well as those who have been very advanced. Each one of them has made remarkable academic growth, motivated by Mr. Porter’s gentle determination, creative instruction and enriched curriculum: including science, fine arts, mathematics, physical education, technology and literature. 

Beyond the classroom, Erick Porter was instrumental in fulfilling Delaine Eastin’s vision of having a garden in every school. Following his leadership, Sartorette School formed a garden committee composed of six parents and three teachers. The school was fortunate to have several acres of open field directly adjacent to the ball field. The committee set out to establish a permanent fenced garden area to meet many curriculum needs, especially in science. Erick encouraged and recruited students and parents to join the weekend work crew and helped to make a true community project happen. He so motivated the whole staff that now every classroom in the school is involved in the garden. The garden is today a beautiful sight of vegetables and flowers. 

Another of Mr. Porter’s significant contributions to the school is the Accelerated Reader program. Students are motivated by getting “points” that they collect from passing tests taken about the books they read. Most of the books are now leveled and labeled, so Mr. Porter and other teachers can quickly provide every student with challenging material for independent reading. Again, because of his piloting efforts and motivation, the program has gone school-wide and has been embraced by every classroom and support teacher.

Erick is also the school’s technical advisor.  He helps teachers install and upgrade their computers; he helps them with problems; and he provides technology training for the staff. 

Vicki Randolph, 2014

Vicki Randolph is a Kindergarten Teacher at Crosby Kindergarten Center in Crosby, TX.  Her principal, peers, and parents of her students offered glowing recommendations of her expertise, her boundless enthusiasm, her love for each and every student, no matter their abilities, and her continual quest to improve her skills and the skills of those she mentors so that, in turn, children will improve their skills.

A visit to her classroom reveals complete student engagement and enthusiasm for learning. Ann Jackson, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member who visited Vicki and her students, also introduced Vicki at the Goldin Foundation Educators Forum. “The first thing I noticed was that there were about 20 tiny people, all sitting quietly on a carpet attentively looking at a Smart Board (which for those of you old-timers is an electronic, interactive device that has replaced chalk boards).  Four or five students were lined up in front of the Board, reading the question and answer choices. Each child took a turn gently tapping an answer on the screen with what, to my untrained eye, looked like a baseball bat with a towel on the end. (I’m sure it has an official name.) Notice I said “gently tapping,” and “tapping on the screen.” Not one kid tapped a tad too hard, not one. Not one kid whacked another kid with that stick. Wow! Talk about classroom management!  The kids were all actively engaged, and Vicki encouraged each one, whether they got the answer right or not. As I looked around the room, I saw a chart about how we make inferences that I had to take a picture of. I want the high school teachers I work with see the amazing teaching and learning happening in kindergarten.”

 Born in Dayton, TX, to Walter Mallett Jr. and Jerry Maxie, Vicki spent her early life in California but returned to Texas in 1979, where she met and married her husband Robert.  Encouraged by her parents’ examples of hard work and determination and her mother-in-law’s urging, Vicki began college after the birth of her older son Eron.  She managed a home, worked, attended school, and was blessed with a second son, Caleb. Juggling these tremendous responsibilities was not easy, but her uncommon drive and determination to succeed led to her graduation cum laude in 1993 from the University of Houston, the first of her siblings to do so.

She then began her service at Crosby Kindergarten in Crosby ISD as a Pre-kindergarten teacher. After several years, she moved to kindergarten classes, continuing to seek out every avenue to find the best way to reach every student. Special needs’ children, second-language learners, and nervous first-time-away from home kids all blossom under the radiance of Vicki’s love and talent.

The nervous parents of kindergartners are quickly reassured that all will be well with their precious offspring, as attested by several parent letters that recounted their gratitude for the way she has gone above and beyond her job duties, including taking forgotten homework to a child’s home.  The teachers she has mentored in her school and student teachers recounted her zeal and modeling of best practices.        

In addition to demonstrating skill in working with inclusion students, on-level students, and gifted students, Vicki is noted for researching and implementing the most up-to-date educational strategies in her classroom and in training other teachers in those methods. Unselfish giving of her knowledge and skills to students and fellow teachers is her hallmark. Implementing new programs and devising ways to meet ever-increasing government regulations while maintaining one-on-one involvement with her students characterizes her achievements.

Vicki’s favorite quote, from Dr. Martin Luther King, sums up who she is to the core:  “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

Susan Raser, 2016

 “Talented, creative, collaborative, gifted teacher, highly respected, team member, educational leader” these are just some of the many words used to describe Susan Raser by her colleagues.  Susan serves as 2nd and 3rd grade teacher at the Alta Vista Elementary School, Union School District in San Jose, CA. where she has been since 2005.

 As a 2nd and 3rd grade classroom teacher, Susan instills a love of learning for her students by designing innovative, hands-on, and creative learning experiences.  Susan regularly facilitates Number Talks lessons that engage her students in critical thinking and group problem solving.  Susan also encourages creative expression and innovation through Design Thinking activities. 

Theresa Molinelli, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, comments about her “wonderful opportunity” to visit Susan’s classroom. “On the inside of her classroom door, it reads, ‘When you enter this classroom, you are scientists, you are authors, you are important, you are thinkers, you are explorers, you are creators, you are readers, you are a friend, you are loved.  You are the reason we are here!’  These words come alive every day in Susan’s second and third grade classroom at Alta Vista.  On the morning that I visited, Susan was teaching her students how to write an opinion piece of text.  Students then joyfully participated in reviewing 6 to 8 Go Noodle movement activities.  After getting students’ blood flowing and their minds thinking about movement, students were asked to pick their favorite Go Noodle activity and to complete a graphic organizer supporting their opinion by providing supporting details. These 2nd and 3rd graders were fully and actively engaging in this pre-writing activity as they formed and justified their opinions, without ever realizing they were “thinking critically.” A 2nd grader noted, “I like the design challenges she does because they are challenging.  We try to do something and usually one team is able to do it and sometimes others fail.  She’s teaching us it’s OK to fail.  She also shows us the many ways something might work.

Over the last several years, Susan has served the broader Union School District community as a Math Common Core Teacher Leader and as a Technology Teacher Leader.  Susan actively supported teachers during the implementation of Common Core math standards and she played an important role in developing second-grade math curriculum maps, and Susan helped to facilitate district-wide professional development around the math curriculum pilot.  As a technology teacher leader, Susan shares ideas and collaborates with teachers throughout the district to plan professional development and to compile resources and tools to assist her colleagues.

Susan gives back to the broader teaching profession that she loves by consistently serving as a mentor teacher to aspiring teachers.  One of Susan’s former student teachers wrote, “Susan taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes, and learning from your mistakes will make you a better teacher.  She also instilled in me the desire to try new things in the classroom and not be afraid of change.  I learned from her interactions with students the importance of building mutual respect and trust with your students in creating a thriving educational environment.  If you were to walk into my classroom, many of the organizational, classroom management, and teaching strategies you would witness, stemmed from all that I took away from being Susan’s student teacher.  Countless times before and after school, Susan took the time to sit with me and go over lesson plans and content to ensure I felt prepared and confident to teach the following day.”

Susan Raser is an exceptional teacher leader who tirelessly serves her students, builds learning communities among her colleagues, and powerfully inducts new members into the teaching profession. 


Kathryn Reilly, 2014

A mom writes about Kathryn Reilly, a Kindergarten Teacher at the Brophy School in Framingham, MA. “My son was always excited to go to school and came home happy each day.  Having a happy, healthy child is most important to parents.  Having a happy healthy child who is excelling in school beyond your expectations is the most unbelievable feeling.  He not only learned to read and write by mid-year, but he developed the confidence and enthusiasm that made him the avid learner that he is today.”

Kathryn is recognized for her consistent long term commitment and success and in giving early learners a great start. She’s been called the “go-to gal” at Brophy who is always willing to mentor new teachers, work with student teachers, and tackle any issues that arise.  Many new teachers note her positive impact on reaching their professional goals….sharing her knowledge, making thoughtful suggestions with honest and constructive feedback, encouraging them to try new ideas.

Kath, as she is known, has played a leadership role in developing innovative programs during her 30 years career.  Here are some highlights:

  • She is always thinking of new and innovative ways to bring life to learning.  For example, she came up with an idea to have kindergarten clubs once a week in all 5 classes that that were developed around specific interests of children. There are now 8 clubs.

  • “Kids Who Care,” a program that Kath co-founded was an early model of community service.  Kath volunteered to run the group as a before school club for 4th and 5th graders that expanded.   For 15 years, 60 students did a myriad of projects and served as role models to their peers.

  • Kath was an early proponent of inclusion, recommending a “push-in” model for special needs children that enabled student to receive more support with the regular curriculum and helped change the relationship between special and regular educators allowing for more collaboration. 

  • She helped lay the groundwork and was coordinator for a very successful Extended Learning Time Program that resulted in an 8 hour day with numerous opportunities for enrichment. 

  • She provided many professional development opportunities such as bringing in specialists for the Guided Reading curriculum. She wrote social studies curriculum for 3rd grade and Kindergarten. And, she created a school-wide data collection system and then facilitated meetings with staff in using the data to drive instruction.

  • Kath continues to be a strong advocate for family-school partnerships. She reaches out to families by communicating consistently and thoughtfully, and she designs engaging opportunities for parents to be meaningfully engaged. On a recent School Literacy night, she modeled a shared reading lesson with students that so that parents and teachers could see what it looks like to effectively read with young developing readers in a highly interactive way.

  • The term “collaboration” is used a lot by Kath’s nominators.  Her vision of “collaboration” was a structured meeting of grade level teachers, support staff, coaches, and administrators that works together to improve student learning.  Weekly meetings took place during the school day….Kath created a school-wide schedule that accommodated this. To this day, the “collaboration” model that she introduced has enabled the Brophy community to move forward with many initiatives such as Positive Behavior Intervention and Support and Academic Conversation that teaches oral conversation skills like paraphrasing, elaborating, and challenging ideas.

Colleagues note that as a result of her strong instructional practice, Kathryn’s students are joyful, curious, independent meaning-makers, and problem solvers.  She is the teacher you look back later on in life and remember her kind and loving way of teaching.  She has a way of connecting with all children and finding meaningful ways to attend to their unique needs whether academic or personal.



Robbin Rossi, 1991

Robbin Rossi, second grade teacher at Claypit Hill School in Wayland, is recognized for her incorporation of the "Whole Language: and "Math Their Way" philosophies and practices within stated curricula. The integration of various discipline areas with emphasis on critical and creative thinking has produced a very strong program resulting in effective student learning. Her modeling and in-service teaching efforts have encouraged other teachers to move in these directions. In addition, Rossi is recognized for improving the education of Metco students as a mentor for students and as an active member of the planning committee.

Nominations by her peers include the following endorsements:
"Robbin is a person who exhausts every possibility for a child, who challenges each and every child at their stage of development. She creatively plans strategies win lessons to foster self-esteem. One project that involves constructing a community out of wood encourages children how to resolve conflicts in their classroom and school house community. From Ms. Rossi they learn how to treasure the planet on which they live. They learn to participate with a sense of empowerment and a sense of responsibility. They learn the skills that are necessary to become full participants in a democracy."

Tammy Routh, 2008

Tammy Routh is a 4th grade science and social studies teacher at Barbers Hill Elementary School in Barbers Hill ISD, Mont Belvieu, Texas. Throughout her own childhood, her family moved frequently and, by junior high, Tammy had some major gaps in her education. Then she said, “Mrs. Wheaton, a 7th grade teacher at yet another new school, changed my life:  First, she helped me realize that I was intelligent . . . I could do the work like everyone else . . . I was just behind.  Second, Mrs. Wheaton told me that you don’t have to have money to go to college; just work and get through it.” And, even though her family continued to move and she lost track of Mrs. Wheaton after 7th grade, Tammy went to college and worked to get through. It took her 6 years but, she said, “I entered the profession to “pay it forward” and be the “Mrs. Wheaton-kind” of educator for students who need me.”

Sandra Duree, Principal of Barbers Hill Elementary, quoted Harry Wong, national consultant and educational expert, when she said, “Mrs. Routh is a high-impact teacher.” Just a few of the many examples of what Sandra meant by “high-impact” teacher follow.

In general, she said, “Tammy Routh instills a love of science and a love of learning in her students. She teaches with heart. Every child who enters her classroom leaves believing they are worthwhile individuals. In addition, Science becomes a major part of their lives.” Specifically, Sandra Duree reported, “One parent called me recently to tell me her son wants to completely revamp his room to turn it into a science room.  Also, just before Christmas, numerous parents let me know that science items were at the top of their child’s Christmas list.”

Tammy cares about her students, her subject matter, and how those two things work effectively together. She understands that children learn best by doing and so she incorporates as many hands-on lessons as possible.”

A letter from a current 4th grade student at Barbers Hill Elementary stated, “Mrs. Routh gives understandable examples of subjects. We understood erosion better when we went to the science lab and did a <shake, rattle, and roll> experiment with chalk, sugar cubes, and cinnamon. . . Our Underwater Ocean Colony project teaches us about electricity, conservation, and energy. . . She gives teaching a whole new meaning!”

According to Sandra Duree, “The impact of her instruction is not short-lived. It is common for former students to visit our campus to see Mrs. Routh and to tell her what a difference she made in their lives.” Both campus administrators agreed that Tammy Routh teaches in a way that strengthens and supports the entire campus. She comes to school early, stays late, serves as a mentor for new teachers, and devotes her conference period to helping teachers or students who need support.

As science team leader, Tammy has developed many science labs that are used by all 4th grade teachers in the district.  She is the “go-to” person when other teachers are looking for materials or ideas for their own science lessons.  While science is her love and passion, she works with other departments to help students. Examples include: working with language arts teachers to identify ways to help students read for information; coordinating science instruction with the math teachers to reinforce concepts that overlap such as measurement and probability;  volunteering to use her conference period to tutor students who have not mastered their multiplication facts.

Tammy Routh is the kind of teacher who makes those vital connections between school, home, and community come alive. She invites guests from local plants to conduct labs with her students and to talk about how science is part of their lives and their jobs.  She personally contacts the parents of all of her students and has written a letter to each student about how much she enjoys having him/her in class.

Part of being a GREAT educator is continuous improvement. Mary Cummings said, “It’s not out of the ordinary for Mrs. Routh to drop by my office before school, tell me what she’s planned for the day, and ask me to watch her lesson so I can give her feedback.  She attends workshops each year to learn more about science or to identify new strategies to reach struggling students. For example, she recently enrolled in a series of workshops offered by University of Houston at Clear Lake that focus on Earth science. Her favorite workshops are those conducted by the Museum of Natural Science, where she has participated in various archeology / paleontology-related activities and digs.”

Sandra Duree said, “Clearly, Tammy Routh is a high-impact teacher as she makes a positive difference in the lives of both students and teachers at Barbers Hill Elementary.” According to Mary Cummings, “Going the extra mile has always been the standard for Tammy Routh. She is a person of integrity with a great enthusiasm for her subject and a great compassion for children.”

Alyssa Rubenstein, 2003

Alyssa Rubenstein is a 5th Grade Teacher at the Runkle School in Brookline, MA. According to her nominators she is a master teacher who is treasured by students, parents, and colleagues alike.  She has touched students in her classroom, parents in the Runkle community, as well as many colleagues in Brookline through strong pedagogy, commitment, enthusiasm, and humor. 

 Alyssa plays many important roles at school.  First and foremost she is a dedicated fifth grade teacher.  Principal David Summergrad commented  that “she combines the energy of youth with the organizational skills of a veteran to create a classroom environment that is at once exciting and safe, challenging and nurturing.”  She inspires her charges, in the words of Building Substitute John Gamel, by creating “an electric atmosphere of excitement during the day which kept the students constantly involved in learning.”  Former Principal Martin Sleeper remarked that “the same ability to engage children that was so clearly evident in her kindergarten teaching [is] now coupled with an exceptionally firm grasp of the curriculum and the ability to create lessons that impart important skills in each subject to her students.”  Several of the nominators noted that students throughout the building claim Miss Rubenstein to be “the number one choice” for favorite teacher.  What could be a better endorsement than students who admire and work hard for this amazing educator.

Alyssa’s expertise goes beyond the classroom.  She seeks out and enjoys collaboration with colleagues both in the building and across town.  She has shared her expertise town wide through workshops about literacy in the content areas and by training new teachers in math.   Fellow fifth grade teacher, Mark Allyn states that Alyssa is a “strong proponent of collaboration across the grade level and throughout the school.” Alyssa is also committed to mentoring and supporting new teachers. She devotes time and energy in thoroughly preparing interns and student teachers for the complex task of classroom teaching.  Both formally and informally, Alyssa is drawn to counseling newer staff members in the building in the role of mentor.   Art specialist, Tina Hirsig shared that Alyssa “has a way of breaking down difficult situations into manageable parts through asking the right questions and giving teacher tested strategies to make a solution that will benefit all parties.”  Mark Allyn, a first year teacher, attributes much of his “own success to Alyssa’s constant support, collaboration, feedback and humor.”    

Alyssa is an ambassador for teaching.  For several years she acted as the teacher liaison to the Runkle PTO.  According to Principal Summergrad, “she put the ‘T’ back in PTO.”  He writes, “The parents were eager to hear her views on things that were being discussed, and their admiration for her was evident each week.” 

Alyssa brings the highest quality of teaching and professionalism to school each day.  In the words of kindergarten teacher John Strecker, “On a daily basis, she inspires those she works with to embrace their role as educators and to see themselves as advocates for their students, for the classroom community they envision, and for the demanding profession they embrace.

Helen Sagan, 1991

Helen Sagan, a music teacher at the Mitchell School in Needham, is fondly known as the “gentle magician” who encourages children to believe in themselves as they explore their potential in the early years, form kindergarten through grade 5.  She is responsible for the classroom music program and serves as the director for the school choruses; yet many of her creative contributions involve students in other schools. To cite a few: director of an after school art project that involved Needham and METCO students, Needham coordinator of Boston Symphony’s Days in the Arts program that pairs elementary and Boston school in related arts experiences in Boston and Tanglewood, facilitator for a Kwanza Festival Program of Dance in each elementary school, and coordinator of a school-wide interdisciplinary program involving the Retired Men’s Club who told stories and sang songs with the children.

Helen is noted for her efforts to help the Needham Public Schools achieve its goal of preparing students for worldwide citizenship. She participated in a U.S./U.S.S.R. Bridges for Peace program that toured the Soviet Union for three weeks.  Fred Tirrell, Superintendents says, “As a result of her visit, a number of projects have been initiated and already have had an impact on our school system.   Helen has made arrangements for us to develop a sister school relationship with a school in Odessa.  She has brought many materials back and has incorporated them into her teaching.  She is setting up a Russian Fair at the Mitchell School, which will be an interdisciplinary project involving history, geography, demography, and the culture of the U.S.S.R. Students, teachers, and members of the community will be involved.”

 Mildred Beane, Director of Music adds, “While in the Soviet Union, Helen pursued her special interest in music by observing classes, conducting workshops, attending services and concerts, and leading the American delegation in sharing musical experiences.  Once she returned to Needham, her enthusiasm and fascination with Soviet culture have been contagious.  She has shared songs, instruments, and traditions with her students and classroom teachers.  She has made an interesting and valuable contribution to the music faculty that will have far-reaching effects in repertoire selection for performing groups throughout the school system.”

Helen has shared her rich experiences with students at the middle and high school as well, including: presentations to 7th and 8th grade classes during their study of Soviet life, arranged for a balalaika player and an artist from Leningrad and a Ukrainian concert pianist to perform and speak to students K-12, and gave presentations to the Humanities classes at Needham High.  She also arranged for a Ukrainian school principal and businessman to visit the schools, speak to high school students, and meet with teachers and administrators at a luncheon.

Helen’s many achievements demonstrate her commitment to children, to public education, and to her recognition that our children will be living in a worldwide culture.

Megan Senini, 2005

Megan Senini is a Grade 2 Teacher at the Noddin School in the Union School District in San Jose, CA.  Jane Herberich, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member comments, “When I visited Megan classroom, two things immediately impressed me:  first, Megan’s classroom itself is an incredibly rich environment designed to encourage learning, and secondly and even more impressive, as the students began entering the classroom well before the start of class, they couldn’t wait to get to their desks to begin the math activity which was waiting for them.  There was definitely a lot of enthusiastic learning going on here.”

Megan admits to having teaching in her blood - her mother, aunt, and uncle were all educators - she married a teacher, and her son, daughter, and son-in-law share her passion for education as well.  Megan has been a teacher in the Union School district for  thirty-four years. In addition to holding four teaching credentials, her professional accomplishments are many:  PAR Consultant, District Mentor Teacher, Peer Mentor Teacher, Grade Level Leader, School Site Council Member, Parent Education Trainer and Teacher Presenter, and published writer.  Karen E. Mullaly, Director of Administrative Services, remarks, “Megan is referred to by those who know her as ‘walking on water’, ‘the best of the best’, ‘a teacher of teachers’, ‘struggling students’ success-maker’, and ‘the epitome of a teacher’.”

Megan herself says that she has a passion for children and a strong belief in them.  According to her nominators, Laura Coor, Jean Lissow, and Robin Jones, “Students feel an immediate acceptance from Mrs. Senini as she somehow magically transforms each one into a capable and brilliant student.  She works wonders by taking even the most ‘at risk’ student and literally turning his or her perception of self-doubt into one of self-worth.”  Megan has a history of “looping” her classes or moving up with her students from one grade to the next.  Cole, one of her current second grade students, is delighted to have Mrs. Senini for a second year, “She doesn’t forget our names.  We grow together”, he noted.

Outside of the classroom, Megan’s commitment to student education and support for colleagues was apparent early in her career.  In those pre-computer days, she quickly became aware of the need for developmentally appropriate materials for her students.  Since none were readily available, she wrote, illustrated, and published 76 books to meet those needs. Megan has also provided numerous teacher and parent in-services for language arts and mathematics, and has been responsible for conducting many Family Math Nights.   

Donna Santilli, a Noddin Elementary School parent whose son was in Megan’s first grade, writes, “Megan Senini truly epitomizes what we all desire in our educators; she is a child’s teacher, a parent’s teacher, and a teacher’s teacher.  She touches lives in meaningful and lasting ways.”

Robyn Sewell-Poutra, 2010

Her great grandmother used to say, “Whatever you do, even if it’s making a pan of biscuits, make it the best pan of biscuits you can make.”  Robyn Sewell-Poutra, Title 1 Math Facilitator at the Travis Elementary School  in Goose Creek ISD in Baytown, Texas.  models this lesson daily. She has determination and passion to help others.

A strong leader on her campus, district, and beyond, Robyn inspires and encourages her colleagues.  She mentors students and teachers, trains teachers on the latest technology software, and even finds the time to do something special for teachers in her hallway on their birthdays. She has an open door policy so that anyone can stop in her office for assistance. She inspires others to think outside the box to find ways to capture children’s interests; and she constantly finds new ways to integrate technology in the classroom.

As math facilitator, Robyn organizes math tutorials for students with academic and emotional needs.  Believing that student success depends on student-teacher relationships, she hand-picks tutoring teachers and pairs them with students according to their personalities.  Robyn has high expectations for her students, holds them accountable, and will not allow them to give up.

Creativity reigns in math classes! Robyn devised a problem solving strategy that is implemented at both the elementary and middle schools.  Math is full of abstract concepts, and the thinking  strategy SC?PLAN teaching skills through a problem-solving lens that integrates reading and language arts into the realm of math story problems. Students’ attention is directed to “S”, the setting; and “C” the characters involved .  The “?”  gets students to restate the problem in their own words. “ P” is for picture of the problem,  and “L,” label it.  Then they write the “A,” action, and finally a number sentence “N “ that shows their thinking.

Every day, Robyn and her Tiger Cubs produce the morning announcements telecast that is written, directed, and produced by students for the whole school.  Each child learns to man the camera, stage the featured homeroom, and prepare the teleprompter. Different homerooms participate in this project each week.

Helping children extends beyond the classroom. Would you believe drag racing for kids ages six to seventeen?  Robyn travelled to CA to assist in a groundbreaking program for children to learn about racing: its mathematical application, sportsmanship, responsibility, and teamwork.  She worked with Community in the Schools and the after-school Gang Activities Program that provides disadvantaged students opportunities to earn college scholarship money.  And, she and her husband sponsor five of these students.

Being a devoted and great teacher is more than a career for Robyn; it is a way of life.

Danice Smith Larick, 1999

Danice Smith is a Grade 3 Teacher at the Memorial School in Natick. Nominators for Danice repeatedly expressed the following attributes: “Dedicated, Vital, Extraordinary, Effective, Dynamic, and Professional.”   Her career spans three decades, four states, and hundreds of children who have benefited from her unique abilities. Danice’s teaching is based on the premise that a positive self-concept fosters pupil achievement.  In each and every learning experience she helps students achieve a measure of success by adapting it to their learning styles and levels.  Long before the theory of multiple intelligences became widely known, Danice artfully integrated its premises into her teaching.   Danice believes that all senses must be addressed in learning, whether children are having a tactile experience exploring patterns, using symmetry and numbers by counting the seeds in a sunflower pod,  or smelling a budding spring flower prior to a writing lesson.

Danice has worked with the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary and the Natick Education Foundation to create a multiyear program in environmental education. As third grade teacher representative for Memorial School’s environmental literacy programs developed with the Broadmoor Audubon Society, Danice helped align the science curriculum with the natural environment of the schoolyard and nearby sanctuary.  She also developed several vehicles to integrate environmental education with other academic areas, and the program has been replicated in other school systems. Other contributions include:  helping to  create Family Math and Science Nights at Memorial, where the important partnership between home and school is celebrated, and developing Natick Elementary’s science and math curricula, objectives, and learning outcomes that match the MA State Curriculum Frameworks. She has served as  a leader in the teachers' union working tirelessly to protect teachers rights and ensure a fair mutually agreed upon contract, and she participated as co-chair of Memorial School’s re-accreditation process.

A lifelong learner, Danice earned her Master's Degree from Lesley College in Creative Arts in learning.   She actively participates in Natick's Professional Development, and she willingly works with a variety of student teachers from local teachers' colleges, sharing her expertise and experience.

In every aspect of her career, Danice has been a creator, leader, and innovator.  As one of her nominators stated, "By her truly professional attitude and personal commitment to children, Danice has been not only a light of inspiration in her classroom, but a beacon of educational distinction for the teaching profession.”

Jeneva Sneed, 2003

As noted by her nominators, Jeneva Sneed, fourth grade teacher at Bagby School in the Cambrian School District, has always given 110% to the Bagby Community. Students see the “I can” attitude Mrs. Sneed puts into everything she does as an inspiration for their own learning. She gives them a lot of time, attention, and extra help, and does not give up or give in. She keeps her standards high, her smile in place, and tries everything until something works. Mrs. Sneed sees each child as an opportunity for learning just waiting to be found.  

Mrs. Sneed was instrumental in writing a grant for Bagby School’s Homework Center. With her development and coordination of the project, the center has become a model for the community. The Homework Center is an after school program where students receive extra support with class and homework assignments.  The multi-tiered program gives low performing students additional academic instruction in small group settings, while other students are provided a quiet resource-filled place to complete their homework.  This past year has seen the program expand to include an average daily attendance of 152 students, fifteen dedicated Bagby teachers teaching and tutoring at all grade levels, and several ESL classes. A future goal is to add a first grade tutorial and a Kindergarten reading tutorial.

Mrs. Sneed has also coordinated the school’s parent volunteer program. She developed several parent education workshops in literacy, which trained parent volunteers in the steps of the reading process. She organized the volunteer hours so that each class has at least one parent volunteer several times a week.  Plans also include a second series of parent education workshops to help parents plan a summer reading program for their children.

Having come into education from industry, Jeneva used her previous experience in technology to initially design and recently update Bagby School’s website. She co-authored a technology training manual and assists in instructing all new teachers in the district.  She also has provided hours of instructional time for students, teachers, and parents in the use of technological equipment

Beyond the classroom, Jeneva participates in countless student programs.  For the past ten years she has directed the school’s choir, sharing her love of music with the students and providing the opportunity for community performances. She also participates as a master teacher with Santa Clara University’s credential program, training student teachers.

Nancy Springer, 2002

Nancy Springer is a fourth grade teacher at the Runkle School in Brookline. She has been called the “complete teacher, for she is creative, organized, thoughtful, caring and reflective about her teaching practice; her instruction is masterful for both children and colleagues.”

According to her nominators, “Her students are risk-takers and enthusiastic participants in her carefully spun web of knowledge. Her classroom is an easel, and her students become a spectrum of bright, illuminated colors under her brush.” Nancy is sensitive to different learning styles and has materials and activities so all her students can be successful. One of her trademarks is that you seldom “see the strings” in her management style. This is no mistake; Nancy uses her impressive mastery of clarity to help children be focused and purposeful in their learning, The children really take ownership of their learning time in a remarkable way.

Her colleagues write that Nancy is able to impart strategies in a non-threatening way. She is seen by them as a tremendous resource. Her experience in teaching the Math Investigations curriculum and in training other staff has made her the ‘go to’ person in 4th grade throughout the school system. According to the Elementary Curriculum Coordinator for Mathematics, “she has helped me to envision and reshape the grade 4 math curriculum. Her thorough knowledge of the curriculum has been a tremendous help in writing and rewriting learning expectations and timelines for instruction. ”Nancy is also in demand as a Cesame trainer in Brookline and other communities.

Nancy serves as a model for future teachers. She has been able to bring new teachers into the profession each year with a steady guiding hand and an inclusive style that allows each intern to grow into the role. She has been instrumental in planning meetings for her school’s interns that focus on curriculum, best practices in instruction, classroom management, and teaching the whole child.

Ms. Springer continues to collaborate with teachers, librarians, and curriculum coordinators to implement research-based practices in her classroom. “She is a model teacher because she is a learner.”

Anne Starek, 1992

Anne Starek is a 4th grade teacher at Memorial School in Natick. She is recognized for creating a classroom environment encouraging experiential learning, fostering a supportive learning environment for each child, and forging school community partnerships.

Anne emphasizes problem solving and thinking skills as evidenced by the program "Invention Convention." The project began by having Memorial School parent and inventor, Charles Lindsey, speak to the entire fourth grade about his dreams and aspirations as a child and his successes and failures as an inventor.

With Anne's guidance, each student then worked through the process of formulating new ideas and developing his/her invention. At an "Invention Convention," each child had the opportunity to demonstrate the purpose of his/her creation.

Under Anne's leadership, staff members and parents have worked together on many projects, outcomes of which are intended for children to develop a love of learning and appreciation and respect for natural environments. Examples include the "Planting and Learning Activity Yards," involving children in making 3 D models of the Play Yard concept and culminating in development of the school playground. Also, a linkage was made with the Natick Community Farm which is now part of the science curriculum for all Natick elementary students; summer workshops have been conducted at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, and a farm shed was constructed by Quinobin Vocational School.

According to her peers and parents, Anne's classroom is managed with love and discipline, and her standards are high. She makes science come alive and children eagerly learn and participate. Anne has the ability to focus on the strengths of each child, is always perceptive to changes within a child, and deals with any emotional situation immediately.

"Anne brings to our Memorial School faculty a gentleness of spirit. She is always willing to share and makes the word 'family' ring true.

Nova Stippel, 2006

Nova Stippel is a Special Education teacher at Stephen F. Austin Elementary School in Goose Creek CISD, Baytown, Texas.  She states, “It has been my goal as a member of our Special Education team, as well as Lead Teacher, to insure that we work as a team with our student’s best interests and success first and foremost.” Laura Smith, Principal of Stephen F. Austin Elementary School, said, “Mrs. Stippel’s leadership has been invaluable to our campus over the last four years, and especially during this year because of our new inclusion program. Last summer, Nova met with her colleagues and with me to plan the inclusion program; she prepared the inclusion schedule, and has led our faculty during this year to successfully make the transition to inclusion. Change can sometimes be very difficult but, with Nova's  leadership, our students and staff are doing an outstanding job.”


Nova’s colleagues recognize her as a “hard-working, self-starter who invariably understands exactly what a project is all about from the onset, and how to get it done effectively and efficiently.” They agree that Nova is a resourceful, attentive, and solution-oriented leader.


Nova says that she strives each day to create an atmosphere that allows students to feel safe, cared for, and rewarded for success. “What makes my job worthwhile is seeing students grasp concepts and watching their self confidence grow.” She goes on to say, “Special Education students face many obstacles in school; the main obstacle is being one to four grade levels below their peers. Students grasp concepts in many different ways and I feel it is my responsibility to locate teaching materials that best suit their learning methodology.”


To this end, Nova began applying for grants in 2002 and has since received a total of 6 grants ranging from $350 to $2,500. The grants have been used to purchase: reading kits, a reading series with individual student workbooks for grades 1-5, a set of SRA lab materials, math kits, and a printer-scanner-copier to support the development of Individual Educational Plans.

Nova is currently seeking other grants to assist with the purchase of instructional software related to science, math books, and phonetic-based skill books. She is also working on a grant to underwrite campus-wide staff development over the next several years to support the new inclusion program at Stephen F. Austin Elementary School. 


In her career as an educator, Nova has taught 1st, 7th, and 8th grades as well as special education for grades 3 to 8. Before coming to Goose Creek, she taught in two Texas panhandle districts where she was also the special education director for pre-kindergarten through grade 8, a Cheerleader sponsor, the student senate sponsor, and sponsor for the Young Astronauts Club as well as the Special Olympics director and the district coordinator for DARE.


In addition to her current position as Lead Teacher for the Special Education Team at Stephen F. Austin Elementary School, Nova serves on numerous district-wide committees in Goose Creek. She also teaches education courses at Lee College and works with student teachers from several universities. Nova received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in education from West Texas State University, where she was an honor student and a member of the recruiting team for the college of education as well as an officer of the Texas Student Teachers Association.


Kathleen Stoneham, 2012

Kate Stoneham is the Speech Pathologist at Lowery Elementary School in Cy-Fair ISD in Cypress, Texas.  She was nominated because of the significant impact she has had on the educational success of special needs students and her willingness to serve others through volunteering. Through Kate’s instructional and motivational strategies, students achieve at rates that are to be commended.  Under Kate’s guidance, students entering the Pre-School program for Children with Disabilities with little or no speech begin communicating within months.  Her work with students with autism is also an area of achievement. Kate builds their skills and confidence so their social world of elementary school and the community is accessible.  Her success rate with the number of students mastering their speech goals and exiting the program is exceptional.  Using programs like LINC, Language in the classroom, technology and strategies in a game-like format encourage communication growth in a non- threatening environment. Rumors of her success have brought SLP’s from other districts to observe Ms. Stoneham in action and they return to adopt the LINC program in their classroom. Kate is also known for her vivacious personality and motivational rewards like “Speech Bucks”, a program which enables students to earn money to go shopping in Kate’s prize store.

Kate’s service to others includes mentoring new teachers and college interns, organizing volunteer appreciation celebrations at the campus level, and in the community she has raised over $50,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis society, riding her bike from Houston to Austin in the MS 150.  Six times she has been the fundraiser leader.  Her impact reaches far beyond her classroom and into the community at large.

Kate’s principal, Brenda Trial, stated that Kate is so much more than an educator.  She connects with everyone and provides whatever support they need.  Her students are successful because of the strategies she uses and the relationships she builds not only with them but their family. Ms. Trial went on to say that Kate even made speech DVD’s for parents to use with their kids over the summer so that they would not lose ground over the break.  What a great home-school connection.

However, the greatest testimony may have come from a parent of one of Kate’s autistic students.  She states that her title CCC-SLP stands for Certificate of Clinical competence in speech language pathology.  But in Kate’s case it may also stand for Character, Commitment, and Creativity of a Supportive Life changing Practioner.  The parent refers to the work of Emily Kingsley’s “Welcome to Holland.” In short, the author compares having a child with a disability with planning a trip to Italy.  You have great expectations when you are ready to travel (or give birth), what you hope to see and do – you pack your bags and you are on your way.  But when you arrive the flight attendant says “Welcome to Holland”. Holland – that was not in your travel plans. But as you visit Holland, you learn to find the excitement and joy that it has to offer.  The parent is forever grateful that Kate has been their tour guide on this unexpected trip to Holland. The parent stated that a trip to Italy would have been easier for them, but Holland was our destiny. “Ms. Stoneham has helped us accept that we may not see Gucci or the Mona Lisa, but we will experience the magnificent tulips and windmills in Holland,” said the parent. These thoughts and feelings are felt by everyone who has come in contact with Kate. She truly is an outstanding educator

Pat Taurasi, 2007

Pat Taurasi, second grade teacher at the Eliot School in Needham, MA  is an exemplary educator who has touched the lives of children, teachers, administrators and parents. She has been an educator in the Needham School System for more than 30 years.  After eight years as the Elementary Instructional Leader for English Language Arts, Pat, in fact, is back to her roots this year teaching the second grade at the Eliot School where she is now bringing to these very fortunate students the wonderful educational practice and enthusiasm that she has had her entire professional life. She comments that “she now enjoys teaching as much or even more than when she started.”

Throughout her tenure Pat has worked in many capacities: Classroom Teacher, System-wide Thinking Skills Facilitator, Elementary Curriculum Facilitator, and Literacy Curriculum Leader.  She has served on many committees and was instrumental in the creation of Needham’s Balanced Literacy Program. The workshop approaches to both reading and writing literacy that are holistic, integrated and activity based.  By using instruction, demonstration lessons, sharing resources, coaching and consultation, Pat has been able to establish a model that continues to guide instruction at each grade level.

Her nominators note two examples.  Pat worked with regular education teachers, principals, reading teachers and special educators to create a more enlightened vision for reading education.  She helped everyone understand that there is no single approach to reading; rather, many combinations are necessary to accommodate the different learning styles and needs of students.  The Writers Workshop, which involved Tufts University consultants,.provided a series of connected and related steps and activities for stimulating and improving writing instruction for all genres.. This resulted in the development of a continuum for writing instruction that describes the skills students are expected to acquire, practice and achieve at each grade level.

Pat also assumed responsibilities outside the office and classroom.  She took charge of the town’s yearly writing assessment, trained parent volunteers for writers workshops, held literacy workshops for parents and assisted in the development of student and teacher portfolios.  To her credit, Pat also led the elementary Spelling Action Research Committee.

One of Pat’s nominator’s described her as a “teacher’s teacher.”  She is an educator who is truly committed to improving literacy for all children and has worked tirelessly to support teachers and to ensure that viable curriculum and instructional practices are in place in pursuit of this goal.  She is recognized, respected and applauded for her efforts by principals, students, teachers, and members of the community

Sharon Taylor, 2006

Sharon Taylor teaches Kindergarten at Crosby Kindergarten in Crosby ISD, Crosby, Texas. First as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher for five years and then a Kindergarten teacher in Crosby for six years, Sharon has created an academic environment that allows all of her students to be successful.  There are children who come to kindergarten ready to read and write, and there are those who can’t write their own names.  Her centers and small group time gives students an opportunity to work at their own levels.  Sharon praises the small steps and accomplishments and not just the final product.

Sharon has specialized in working with children at risk and children with learning disabilities. Her nominators recognized her for her accomplishment of inclusion at this early level, mainstreaming special needs children in her kindergarten classes with disabilities such as Autism, ADHD, Mental Retardation and Emotional Disturbance. Sharon focuses not on their labels but what they can do. She has modified her curriculum as to provide appropriate accommodations, ensuring that each of her students master his or her goals and objectives. Her expectations are high, and her students are achieving. Several parent nominators stated, “She has a way to make children think they can do something they never believed they could.” “Unbelievable strides have been made, gains that may not have possible without her expectation and dedication.”

“Sharon is a doer,” stated her Principal Ronnie Davenport, “…one of the rare people who not only has an idea, but combines this with the commitment of being actively involved. She is a member of the campus inclusion team; she is involved as a member of the district-wide committee to review curriculum, programs and make suggestions for changes.  She takes a lead in raising money in two campus fundraisers for cancer and for the district’s very special needs children. “

Sharon is a gifted educator who molds little minds into students who are ready to move on to first grade.  She instills in each one a genuine love of school, learning, and acceptance of others. She is their teacher, their friend, but most of all; she is their advocate as they begin their journeys in school. 

Robert Thomas, 2013

Robert “Bob” Thomas serves as Educational Technology Specialist, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline Public Schools, MA. Bob is clearly an excellent educator, and he gets other excellent teachers together to “make things happen.”  As Heidi Cook, Principal, noted, “Bob brings the community together.”  A grade 1 teacher added, “He is “calm in the face of crisis,” and he has a “deep sense of commitment and a tireless energy” that he “brings to the important work of teaching and learning each and every day.”

Much of Bob’s work begins with speaking with collaborating teachers, determining the teaching goals and matching them with technology tools and critical thinking skills.  Several projects include: 

·         Media Literacy Course for 7th graders, a well-developed program in collaboration with Art Teacher Marianne Taylor and Librarian Amy Neale that continues to evolve. The course looks at how7th grade students are targeted and impacted by the media.  Examples of several activities: students worked to create lists of the images and sounds they saw in positive and negative political advertisements; the lists went into InfuseLearning, and they were closely examined.  Bob created files of stock images and sounds, and had students use iMovie to create their own political ads.   Students could see how an ad is often selling an image more than conveying facts.  On Edmodo, students were able to embed clips of ads and ask questions, “What have you learned about this candidate from this ad? And “Why do you think this ad was made this way?”

·         Science and Technology with the 7/8 science teacher using tools such as Scratch Animation to have students demonstrate models of key concepts in the science curriculum such as diffusion across a cell.

·         Integrated technology across the curriculum and grades: Bob teaches students and staff to use a wide range of applications and tools with a high degree of proficiency.  Students have made immigration videos, podcasts about research into the classification of living things, animations that require simple programming, films about computer safety and ways to help the environment.

On a recent visit to view Bob in action, Michael Kozuch, Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, history teacher and the Director of the Global Communities Program at Newton South High School, comments, “ I have always tipped my hat to elementary and middle school teachers.  They are not only some of the most important people in a young person’s life, but also the most patient.  But, this is what astonished me about Bob. He seamlessly moved from effectively teaching a group of fifty-four 7th graders (did I mention there were fifty-four 7th graders?) to teaching a group of kindergartners with the same compassion and patience, but in a voice and pace that was appropriate for each age group.  It was impressive to watch him help twelve year olds analyze the gender implications of commercials, and then five minutes later, teach a lesson to six year olds about exploring technology.”

As his principal said, “Bob stays current and keeps students engaged by being a constant learner himself.”  He teaches at the college level, instructing the next generation of educators.  He seeks professional development opportunities to stay ahead of the curve.  He finds all kinds of software tools for others to enhance their teaching. 

Bob is truly a master teacher who reinvents himself and brings others along with him. He is a teacher leader who brings people together to improve instruction; a school leader who is one of the pillars of a great and historic school in Brookline; and an educational leader who understands how to utilize the best research and technology to improve student learning.  As one of his colleagues said, “Bob is the complete educator.”

Jane Threet, 2006

 Ms. Jane Threet  is a First Grade Teacher at Alta Vista School in the Union School District, San Jose CA.

"Incredible magic is how I would describe my feelings walking into Jane Threet's first grade classroom for the first time," comments Jeneva Sneed, Goldin Foundation Advisory Board and 4th grade teacher in the  Cambrian School District "The entire room was decorated to represent the rain forest with its trees starting on the floor, extending up the walls, and onto the ceilings, and yes, the great Kapok tree was there. Vines went across the room where animals perched or dangled. Children's work was present everywhere to show the many things they had learned during this unit. I wish that I had time to go back and see the play and hear the poems and songs that the children will perform, using costumes designed by Jane, as a culminating activity."

Jane's "Character Building Blocks" dominated one board and she related how she first started using them and how they have not only impacted her class, but the entire school as well. Jane is also known to her fellow colleagues as "Self Control Girl."

Jane's principal, Donna Lewis, writes, "…Jane exemplifies the best in teaching through her innovation, creativity and consistency. In her ten years at the Union School District, Jane has demonstrated her utmost professionalism in multiple ways. In 2004 she was selected as Alta Vista's Teacher of the Year. She also presents regularly, sharing her original teaching units at the annual California Reading Council Seminar, Social Studies Convention, and at our school.  Our parents and community adore Jane as a teacher on the staff and each year there are many requests to get students into Jane's first grade class."

Sandra Tolbert, 2015

Sandra Tolbert is a Kindergarten Teacher at the Marshall Lane Elementary School, Campbell Union School District in Saratoga, CA.

“Don’t say you can’t do it.  Just try your best.”  Sandy mentions this phrase each time a student tells her “I can’t cut straight,” “I can’t run fast enough,” or “I can’t write neatly.” Sandy reviews these words with her students, who “get it;” they in turn use them appropriately with other students and even parents who face challenges.

Sandy’s nominators note, “She is the consummate professional with a growth mindset and drive for student achievement.  She approaches her classroom with a passion that is undeniable.  Her students greatly benefit from the nurturing, yet highly structured environment she provides year after year.  Sandy gives her student predictability, yet allows them to be creative and explore.”

Bob Lowry, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, visited Sandy’s class. “As I entered Sandy’s classroom, I immediately thought to myself, “This is a classroom in which I would definitely want my two granddaughters enrolled.”  The walls of the classroom were filled with students’ work, the classroom climate was extremely positive, and all students were on task. When several students enthusiastically called out without raising their hands, I smiled to myself when I heard Sandy say to her students, “The voices I heard were delightful!”

“Sandy was presenting a STEAM lesson, that is, one which incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.  The lesson was related directly to this particular day, Earth Day 2015.  Sandy consistently used academic vocabulary with the students, and the follow-up project completed by each of her students incorporated critical thinking and creativity.

Being an engaged member of the community can start in kindergarten.  Sandy spearheads 2 important community service projects with students.  First, Sandy invites all grade levels to compose letters of appreciation to the U.S. troops during Veteran’s Day and Valentine’s Day.  She also sends children’s notes to South Bay Blue Star Moms who pass along these letters.  Recently Sandy initiated the Crayola Marker Recycling Program as an environmental effort to recycle dry Crayola markers instead of burying them in landfills.  So, throughout the year, Marshall Lane students add to the collection box in Sandy’s room, which are then sent to PA where they are transformed into fuel for vehicles…..  a total of 1300 markers last year.

Sandy serves as facilitator for the PBIS committee at her school.  She is also the Common Core Grade Level Lead in Language Arts for kindergarten. She continues to mentor new teachers.  Sandy has been selected as the 2015 Marshall Lane Teacher-of-the-Year!

Diana Towner, 2016

Diana Towner serves as Art Specialist at Purple Sage Elementary in Galena Park ISD, Houston Texas. A native of the Clear Lake area, Diana graduated from Clear Lake High School and the University of Texas at Austin. She began teaching at Purple Sage Elementary twelve years ago as a second grade teacher; after one year, she taught first grade, becoming the Art Specialist two years ago, a position that allows her to see all 450 students of the school. 

Diana has consistently been recognized for her outstanding contributions in numerous areas. One of her most successful efforts has been in the inception, design, organization, and fulfillment of a Box Top Store for the students. Many schools encourage parents and students to bring in Box Tops to help purchase necessary equipment and classroom supplies, but Diana has taken this traditional endeavor to a new level. The Purple Sage store is a model for all: parent volunteers run the store as students are brought in on a rotating basis to choose their rewards, which range from pencils and pens to totes and t-shirts. Not only are students thrilled and learning math and decision-making skills, the store has increased parent volunteerism tremendously, enabling the Title I school to earn $15,000 since 2011. In 2012 Diana’s school was recognized as one of three Houston area “Education Heroes” by Box Tops leadership and Houston City Council members; they were recognized in a press conference and awards ceremony at City Hall.

Beyond engendering success in the Box Top store, Diana exemplifies superior skill as a teacher who meets the needs of her students both in and out of the classroom. Nominators commented on her well-behaved, respectful students, and the love those students have for her, many of whom return to thank her for the impact she has had on their lives. Nominators also praised her selflessness in the classroom and with them. Diana serves on numerous district committees and has served twice as a PTA officer. Twice, she has been named Purple Sage Teacher of the Year, and this year she was chosen as Galena Park ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Susan Tully, 2006

Mrs. Susan Tully serves as a Kindergarten Teacher at Noddin Elementary School in the Union School District, San Jose, CA.Here is what Susan Tully’s colleagues say about her:  “Wonderment” is the word to best describe Mrs. Susan Tully.  She magically instills the sense of wonderment into her students that continues with them throughout their lifetimes.   She accomplishes this by retelling her childhood experiences from a child’s perspective, always with a twinkle in her eye.  This is engaging and exciting to her students. They gain a sense of awe and wonderment of the world around them. 

Mrs. Tully has a strong belief that all children are glorious and always will be glorious.  She loves the children for who they are and who they will be.  She talks to them kindly and respectfully at all times.  They feel as if they are the only person in the world!

Through the years, Susan has developed a “Whole Child” approach that provides an environment where children learn through active involvement. Concepts are presented in fun and interesting ways with attention to individual needs and learning styles.  A creative and flexible teaching style allows her to capture and use the magical teaching moments of curiosity and discovery.  She brings out the “true” child in everyone who crosses her path, including adults. 

She provides her students with meaningful, childhood experiences such as a parent/child pumpkin carving, a student Nutcracker performance for their parents and a Native American Pow-Wow complete with dancing and singing.  These “festive” moments bring home and school together in a common place for the children.  These are experiences that are somehow disappearing in the fast-paced demanding world we live in now.” 

Susan has been teaching for over 25 years!  She has taught Spanish and grades 5, 2, 1, K/1 and Kindergarten.  Although the majority of her teaching has been in the Union School District, she has also taught in San Francisco, San Carlos, Redwood City and at the American School in Frankfort, Germany.

Karen Mullaly, Director of Administrative Services in the Union School District wrote, “All aspects of Susan Tully’s teaching and professionalism are superlative.  Those who have been Mrs. Tully’s students, students’ parents, colleagues or administrators know that no teacher can surpass her.  Mrs. Tully is a magical teacher… whom everyone remembers.”  Susan’s nomination included letters from not only colleagues but also numerous parents and former students whose lives she has impacted in powerful and lasting ways!

Nerissa Van Tuyl, 2011

Nerissa Van Tuyl is a Grade 1-2  Dual Immersion Teacher at the Mariano Castro

School, Mountain View Whisman School District in Mountain View, CA.  Her

nominators state that she is an “innovator, a leader, and a role model to her students

as well as colleagues.” Teaching first and second graders Spanish for half of each day and English the other half, Nerissa goes “above and beyond” in providing them with

 inspiration and instruction for active learning.

Nerissa’s commitment to boosting learning and achievement for her students motivated her to reach out beyond her regular classroom responsibilities and tap an untapped resource – parents. She introduced the Passport to Success or Passaporte al Exito Program as a way to empower parents with skills they need to help their students as well as motivate students to continue their learning at home.  Forty to fifty families include parents, and sometimes their children, who attend monthly sessions, which are conducted in Spanish and English.  They receive hands-on practical ways that encourage family time as learning time.  Topics have focused on reading, writing, and developing vocabulary at home.   One session, for example, focused on strategies of writing that were adopted by the school district.  Nerissa showed through examples what students are expected to do as they move through the writing process; and she walked the parents through the same process.  Parents then practiced the skills and received a homework packet to complete with their child.  A homework packet is provided after each parent meeting.  Each family has a “Passport to Learning, which gets stamped each month when children complete the homework packet and when parents attend a meeting.  Prizes are given to children after they receive three stamps.  The workshops now are opened to all first and second grade families. Everyone becomes motivated to learn!

A most important by-product of the Passport Program is the improvement of parent literacy.  A colleague, Elizabeth Wallace, comments, “At one of the first meetings, a parent with limited literacy skills worked quietly with other parents during the collaborative part of the workshop.   Now, four meetings later, she took a more active role in the conversation with other parents.  As her confidence grows, she will be a stronger role model for her own children.”  Nerissa implemented another innovation to the program.  She trains one grade level colleague a month by planning with them and having them attend a Passport meeting.

Nerissa continues to exemplify outstanding leadership as she provides students and families an opportunity that makes a strong impact on their learning.  The model is worthy of replication at other sites and in other districts.

Mary Pat Vargas, 2007

Mary Pat Vargas is a Grade 5 Teacher at the Alta Vista Elementary School in the Union School District, Silicon Valley, CA region.  She is the ninth of fifteen children, an experience that she considers an enormous  asset in preparing her for a teaching career.  She learned to work creatively and independently.  She is flexible, and noise is not bothersome.  According to her colleagues, Mary Pat models an attitude of respect, love of learning, and acceptance of all.  Margo Crausaz, one of her fifth grade students, describes Mary Pat as “kind, forgiving, generous, and creative.”  Janice Hector, President of the Union School District Board of Trustees, described her GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) classroom as “crackling with intellectual electricity.”  She goes on to say, “When I visit Mary Pat teaching students in her regular classroom, I can count on seeing the same flavor of excitement, achievement, and citizenship permeating her class”.  Mary Pat clearly has a passion for learning and the ability to individualize her instructional techniques and strategies to meet the needs of each of her students.

As well as being a “teacher extraordinaire”, Mary Pat shares her energy and talents with her colleagues.  She is a Peer Assistance and Review Consultant currently mentoring a first year fourth/fifth grade Special Day Class Intern teacher at Alta Vista.  She serves as a member of her school’s Technology committee and the District Gate committee.  Mary Pat is the calendar contact, Science Fair chair, Gate Coordinator, and Conflict Manager Coordinator.  She plans the character building segment of the grades four and five monthly Cougar Pride assemblies, and twice a week during her lunch break, she coaches and referees intramural basketball games for fifth grade students.  Mary Pat was nominated by the California Department of Education to apply for the Presidential Awards of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in elementary science, and she was a key writer of the California Distinguished School application, which Alta Vista was awarded in 2006.   And there’s more...Mary Pat presents Saturday technology workshops for educators at  RAFT – (Resource Areas For Teaching), and she wrote and published a simulation of the Lewis and Clark expedition which has been used by social studies teachers throughout the nation.   It is no wonder that Mary Pat was selected as Alta Vista’s Teacher of the Year in 2005.

Mary Pat and her husband, Ed, have been married for twenty-eight years.  She has three children:  Megan, twenty-four, Jeremy, twenty-two, and Melissa, nineteen.  Mary Pat chose to say home with her children for thirteen years, and it was during this time while volunteering in her children's’ classrooms that she discovered her love for teaching. She returned to San Jose State University and received her Teaching Credential in 1996. Her first assignment was a forty percent teaching position in the Union School District as the District GATE teacher at which she excelled for six years, the last three of them full-time.  In September, 2002, Mary Pat had her first full-time, regular education classroom experience teaching fifth grade at Athenour School.  When Athenour school closed, Mary Pat was assigned to Alta Vista School where she has taught for three years.

In the words of Lisa Hammer, also a fifth grade teacher at Alta Vista School, “Mary Pat  is a devoted educator who exemplifies what a teacher should be.  Students leave her classroom with a gift, her amazing knowledge and talent for imparting not just knowledge, but a love for the process of learning.”

Audrey Walker, 1994

“To be caring, loving, understanding, gracious, helpful, warm, knowledgeable, and creative are all qualities any one of us would strive to achieve.  To embody these traits, not occasionally, but on a daily basis and with everyone equal -  students, patents, faculty, and friends- is what makes someone special.....Audrey Walker is such a person, “ states Aja Mahoney,  kindergarten teacher at the Mitchell School.

Audrey Walker has been a Metco Teacher Aide for twenty-one years in the Needham Public Schools. She works with Metco children primarily but also includes other children in her small study groups. within and outside the classroom. The “invited guests” love to go and be included.  “Racial and/or environmental differences play no part in these relationships and all children gain from these times together.”  Third grade teacher Marcia Graham notes,” Audrey is an intelligent, articulate, sensitive woman who works hard to help every child she comes in contact with to reach his/her potential educationally and emotionally.  She has developed mentoring strategies for Metco students and is very effective liaison between Metco parents and the Needham schools. She talks with parents and children about life in their home neighborhoods and their school neighborhood; she provides counseling about problems, helps children with homework, and  she even travels on the Metco school bus with the children every day providing nurturing support.  In 1992-1993 Audrey developed a portfolio for Metco students, which included tape recordings of their reading progress throughout the year.    She is also a master teacher helping teachers at all grade levels and training other aides in the system.  She has worked with Staff Development, implementing new curriculum and creating new teaching material. She has developed a list of multicultural literature for all the school media centers and has a multicultural center at the Mitchell School.

Karen Walthall, 2008

 Karen Walthall is a 4th grade teacher at the Newport Elementary School in Crosby, Texas.  She is recognized for being an outstanding lead teacher at her grade level; helping to maintain a mentoring program for new teachers; modeling outstanding lessons for her colleagues; creating and maintaining an extensive, interactive website for learning; and authoring a book about motivational teaching strategies and presenting it at the state level. 

Karen is a master at making her classroom an exhilarating, energetic, and enthusiastic place.  While striving to reach the needs of each and every student, she gets all of them to succeed.  Colleagues note that she can take struggling students, build their confidence, and help them master concepts and skills.  To help students remember their math concepts, Karen wrote Movin’ and Groovin’ Math, now a published book and CD of math chants, songs, and rhymes.  This concept has been so successful that she that she has presented workshops to teachers in her district and at educational conferences such as the Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics.

With two other teachers, Karen developed a user-friendly website for Newport Elementary to connect with students, parents, teachers, and the broader community.  Previously there was a site with the school picture and a page to access teachers via email.  Now, parents have one click access to homework help and tutorials.   Students can enter hundreds of websites that are coordinated with key learning concepts.  Teachers have lesson plans, PowerPoints and teaching ideas at the touch of a mouse.  There’s a great library page, a page for Newport monthly calendars and forms, and a Photo Gallery that highlights students’ works.  Already, this site has even extended to others beyond Newport.  Once the word is out, it can be a valuable resource to teachers, students, and parents everywhere!

Karen has helped develop a mentoring program for all Crosby ISD schools, a very important resource for new teachers as they enter the profession.  She makes herself available for encouragement, support, and help with lesson plans and instructional strategies.  New teachers and also aspiring teachers often observe in her classroom.

Karen is also devoted to the Crosby community.  She is active in her church teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and working with youth.  She’s been involved with youth soccer, Project Graduation, Delta Sigma Service Sorority; and she contributes much time and enthusiasm to the community at large.

Karen’s love for her students is the driving force behind her success as a teacher.  Clearly she loves her life’s calling and goes above and beyond..  She constantly makes a difference in the lives of children and everyone with whom she comes in contact

Janet Wellock, 2005

Janet Wellock is a  Special Needs Teacher at the Fisher Elementary School in Walpole. She was introduced by Phyllis Lubar, a member of the Goldin Foundation Advisory Board, at the annual Educators Forum. “We all know that for many teachers their day in the school building can reach nine hours. In addition, among, other school related after school activities and obligations, we take homework, write reports, and create lesson plans. Reading about you, Janet, I wonder, when you sleep?"

During her day in the Fisher School in Walpole, Janet is responsible for twenty-eight Special Needs students in grades 4 and 5 …..TWENTY EIGHT!!! That means she creates, modifies or accommodates twenty-eight individualized academic programs, specially tailored to each one’s different learning style. In addition, she supervises two instructional aides to help carry out these 28 programs. She also tests and attends meetings during the school day.

Phyllis Lubar continues, "Janet, I would imagine it must be in between classes that you might rush back to your room to communicate with parents via notes, phone calls and communication journals to ensure both their needs and their child’s are addressed. That must also be when you prepare individual instructional packets for families, to ensure they understand their child’s learning style and assist them at home. It is also probably then that you modify the daily curriculum, provide the accommodations and, if necessary, create new materials which may fit better with a student’s needs because you undoubtedly  need your after school time to run some homework over to a student’s house,  go to workshops, facilitate at study groups, learn new programs and procedures, help out with the Walpole Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America and the King Philip-Walpole Youth Hockey Association, be a rep town meeting member, and work on the Walpole Finance Committee. (Perhaps you write all your reports, individualized educational programs and progress reports before school .)

I’ll bet it is lunchtime that you fill in for the building principal and vice principal when they are at offsite meetings. I’m guessing if they are on site, you can use lunchtime to mentor all the new Special Education teachers at Fisher School or conference with other teachers to help them with programming..

They say that much can be learned while sleeping. I’ll bet you play those tapes of Special Ed laws and guidelines at night, the ones that change weekly, so that you can remain a valuable member of the Fisher School’s Building Evaluation Team.

Now here is the most amazing thing: you are consistently described as positive, calm, and pleasant. Your colleagues report that you  ALWAYS maintain a good sense of humor. In fact it is reported that your humor is contagious;  it diffuses difficult moments; it converts tense situations into productive ones. You are labeled insightful, creative, a limitless resource, a master at differentiating instruction, generous in your collaborating, selfless, and a true leader."

Janet's colleagues agree that she has encouraged hundreds of students to believe in themselves and achieve in all settings. Her zest for life and “can do” attitude allows her to find the silver lining in every cloud.

Karen Wilson, 2015

Karen Wilson serves as STEM instructional Coach for Los Altos School District, Los Altos, CA.

There’s excitement and a buzz around learning in Los Altos, and Karen is one of its major sources. Karen’s nominators note that she continues to make a major impact in education that touches most students in Los Altos and those in other school districts as well.

As leader of the STEM effort (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) she enables students to think critically, problem solve, and work collaboratively….all 21st century skills. As a STEM coach, she works with teachers and directly with students to provide hands-on experiences that incorporate real world applications that ignite their curiosity and drive for learning.  

Karen’s nominators state that her leadership is a model for collaboration. She has built the STEM Program by researching best practices, empowering and engaging with teachers, visiting schools and programs, attending conferences, and seeking STEM professionals outside of education. The model involves reimagining spaces, integrating all materials into current science and math curricula while aligning with Common Core, Next Generation, and Computer Science Association Standards.

One highlight of the program is an active robotics project that was first introduced to a 3rd and 6th grade classroom.  Just imagine a 3rd grade class building a Spout Bot by first learning about energy and electricity.  They learn about atoms, the Periodic Table, electromagnetism, and powering LED lights with lemons. They then create their own robots that move.   At a culminating student showcase and robotics challenge students compete, share their journals, and explain the concepts to other students and very excited and proud parents. This program has been so successful that it will soon be offered to all 4th and 6th graders in the district.  

Another outstanding project is the STEM Expo. All students in grades K-6 are invited to participate.  Each student chooses a design project in one of the following categories: Rube Goldberg, Invention, Environmental Innovation, Reverse Engineering, Robotics, Scientific Inquiry.  Students have a 1:1 interview with a community member and then have a chance to showcase their projects in a fun and unique venue with learning opportunities for the entire family.

Innovate, Create, Educate was the headline in a news blog.  Karen is revolutionizing learning in Los Altos School District. And, she is spearheading efforts to replicate the model as more and interested educators from outside the district hear about its success. Recently Los Altos STEM teachers, under Karen’s guidance and direction, presented 9 different sessions during a 2 day state symposium.

Karen is an innovator and continues to excel in her role as Los Altos School District’s STEM Instructional Coach. She is creative, highly motivated, and she models a passion for curiosity and learning.

Lisa Yerby, 2012

Lisa Yerby is the  Gifted and Talented, Dyslexia, and Science Lab teacher at Southside Primary School in Cleveland ISD, Texas. Nominators for Lisa state that she is a standout teacher and cite her exemplary qualities:

* embraces the natural inquisitive nature of young children and conveys a spirit of  exploration

* offers a creative approach to learning that addresses the learning styles of every child

* provides lessons that create curious, successful, and confident students who desire to learn

*  is an exceptional teacher that shows commitment to her students and education

Lisa created and facilitates the Science Lab at Southside Primary School.  She designed the lab to foster a love of science, and help her students become more proficient in their understanding of science concepts. Her program started out with donations, and on a shoe-string budget.  Today, the program has grown to accommodate sixteen animals and many, many projects.  Every student at Southside, (900 plus), is scheduled through the Science Lab.  Lisa’s Gifted and Talented students run a school store to raise funds for animal food and supplies.  She has also received grants that help with supplies in the lab and pay for the Gifted and Talented Science Camp during summer school.   The students at Southside love this learning environment and get to experience hands-on projects and a great foundation in the science curriculum. 

Brenda Kolek, Oma Owens, and Sue Sheriff, fellow teachers at Southside, describe Lisa as one works tirelessly before and after school to take care of animals in the lab.  She feeds and waters them, cleans out their cages, and she makes sure they have good homes during the school breaks.  She has had baby chicks hatching via the internet, so that students, parents, and staff can watch the process as it was happening. Caterpillars have transformed into beautiful butterflies, and children have explored science and taken home “treasures” from experiments. 

The curriculum covered by Miss Yerby is not limited to animals.  Each class includes science education, experiments, and many hands-on experiences for the children as well as related literature.  Classes are often taken outside to experiment with or explore concepts being taught.  It is no wonder that the children love this Science Lab.

Each of Lisa’s nominators praised her contributions to education, her care and concern for each child’s success, her creativity, and her caring and compassionate character as qualities that make her an outstanding educator and very deserving of the recognition from this award.