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Teachers Bring Diverse Gifts to the Table

By Mary Blow on November 24, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

It is the time of year when we slow down and reflect on our blessings. This year, we are taking on the Common Core, Race to the Top, APPR, and altered state assessments. Yes, it is hectic. I am also encountering my most challenging cohort of students and their wide variety of needs. There are many days when life is good, and to be honest, there are days when life is not so good. Still, I feel blessed. First, my students’ diverse needs are challenging me to become a better teacher. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow. Second, I have extremely gifted colleagues who bring unique gifts to the table, gifts that help our students overcome obstacles and succeed. This week I want to celebrate those people.


Mrs. Christine Bach, Science Teacher

Chris, our 6th-grade science teacher and coach, not only engages our students in many hands-on projects, but she approaches each child in a calm, professional, and often humorous manner. She has the ability to see the whole child, not just the behavior. With four children of her own, she has a thorough understanding of the physical, mental, and social changes students go through in middle school. Her experience coaching soccer and track translates to her classroom as she encourages students to overcome obstacles in academics and life. She teaches students to take risks and that the most important component to success is getting in the game. Win or lose, Chris is there to cheer them on in all facets of life.


Mr. Josh Coffman, Social Studies

Josh, a retired major league lacrosse player, is a dedicated coach and social studies teacher. He teaches our students that you don’t succeed in life without commitment and perseverance. Josh’s competitive nature and dedication motivate our students to be the best they can be on the field and in the classroom. His tough love approach reaches those students who struggle with accountability. If you have a job to do, you don’t make excuses; you get the job done. His high expectations encourage our students to persevere and overcome obstacles, not to succumb to defeat. 


Mr. Matthew Macaulay, Math Teacher

Math teacher? Musician? Ski Coach? Comedian? Matt’s gifts go beyond those of the average teacher. Year round, Matt is a prankster, keeping students and staff on their toes. It is not beyond him to serenade students with his guitar while monitoring hallways. During the winter months, when we are buried in snow banks higher than our vehicles, you will find him loading the school bus with ski equipment. In the spring, he challenges our students to participate in our Relay for Life fund-raiser. The students buy construction paper footprints for $1. If the footprints reach from one end of our hallway to the other, the 6th graders get to shave his head. You can count on Matt to live up to our school motto, “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.” He not only meets their academic needs, but he teaches the whole child, helping them to become successful citizens when they leave our school.


Mrs. Dawn Sweredoski, Reading Teacher

Last week, I watched an ASCD webinar “What Great Educators Do.” All the way through, I thought of Dawn. Dawn is the mother figure on our team. She sets the bar high and expects all our students to meet it. She doesn’t miss a trick. If you mention a student’s name, she has a list of notes on their academic standing, ability levels, and achievements. Late into the evening, you will find her planning curriculum, exploring technology, and analyzing data. This year, Dawn is serving her second term on the Charlotte Award Committee  which requires her to read hundreds of books yearly. She invites our students to read and evaluate books as well. Her contagious love for reading infuses the classroom. Anyone looking for a great book goes to Dawn’s library. No student leaves her class without finding the one book that ignites his or her lifelong passion for reading. Any day of the week, students, past and present, stop by her room to sign out a book to read. Dawn’s many gifts have transformed and continue to transform the lives of students and teachers.


Mrs. Becky Tiffany, Guidance Counselor

Every school has a guidance counselor, but there is only one Becky Tiffany. Becky is not only our guidance counselor, but also our teacher psychologist and fashion guru. Last year, a friend and I bought her prints of unique shoes, a tribute to her shoe fetish. Needless to say, they are proudly displayed on Becky’s wall near her daily shoe calendar, a visual reminder that it is okay to be different. Becky’s unique style is just a glimmer of the unique gifts that Becky brings to our team. Her quick and witty humor reminds us not to take life too seriously. She has the ability to defuse a situation and find the silver lining in anything. It is evident that students and staff alike love her as we all vie for the comfy chair in her office and for the chance to listen to her inspirational words of wisdom.


As I reflect on what I have to be thankful for this year, it's natural that my team members come to mind. Each has different gifts, yet they are each essential to making us whole and to meeting the needs of our diverse student population.




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