My Teacher of the Year Journey

Gloria Noyes, 2009 Maine State Teacher of the Year

Archive for April, 2009

 

Our T.o.Y. group was invited to share a day with some of America’s leading educational advocates.  It was a wonderful opportunity for classroom teachers across this country to collaboratively work together for the betterment of our students.  As a group, we were asked to give our input on several topics of discussion having to do with areas in education that will most likely be seriously impacted by the stimulus money.  We were a “think tank” for how to use the money in a way that will benefit school systems for years to come, not just for the next two years. 

Each group reported their thoughts and beliefs to a panel of Dept. of Ed. dignitaries, a panel that seemed very interested in what we shared.   :)   It meant a lot to me…knowing that I could use my voice to best help my colleagues and my students. 

 

My day only got more exciting when I was able to see one of my Senators.  Having such a tight schedule this week, I was unsure that I would be able to see any of my Senators (Snowe and Collins) or my Representatives (Pingree and Michaud).  Good fortune was on my side, my husband called Susan Collin’s office for me this morning and they were able to fit me in later this afternoon.  I was so excited all day knowing that I had this opportunity to meet someone who has Maine’s interests at heart.  (I feel the same about Sen. Snowe, Rep. Michaud and Rep. Pingree)  Maine is very fortunate to have representatives in office that are progressive, thoughtful, informed and true leaders.

 

It was so special just to be in Senator Collins presence!  She has an immediate likeability to her and a warmth that eminates outward. She congratulated me on receiving this award and we took a picture together.  Next, she asked me what grade I taught and I told her 5th grade…she beamed and said her favorite grades were 2nd and 5th.  I wonder if those were the years that she encountered a teacher that made a difference in her life, I’ll have to ask her that next time I see her which will be soon.   It was especially fabulous that she then asked to come visit my classroom! Pinch me… SENATOR COLLINS IS COMING TO CONGIN!!!  My school is going to be ecstatic!  Thank you to Senator Collins and her staff, everyone there was gracious, friendly and warm. 

Another truly memorable day!

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  •  

    Our group spent the day at the SMARTER Technologies headquarters in Washington, D.C.  We started the morning off by listening to Nancy Knowlton the CEO of SMART Technologies (also the co-inventor of the SMART Board).  It was neat to hear how she and her husband, David Martin (the co-inventor and Chairman of the SMART Technologies)… had such struggles prior to the SMART Board taking off.  Mr. Martin ended our session by showing some of the latest improvements and future products offered by SMART Technologies.  You really need to try out one of these boards…feel free to come into my classroom to play around with mine.  Here’s a cool link on how they started the company: http://www.abheritage.ca/abinvents/inventions/inv_co_smart.htm 

    SMART Technologies outfitted each State Teacher of the Year with an interactive SMART Board, projector, Senteo (soon to be called SMART Response) program with clickers, software, Airliner and training.  They also provided a lavish buffet dinner for us last night at the Renaissance Hotel. This generous company has made such an impact on my classroom…I barely use the white board and teach a large portion of my day on the SMART Board.  The kids and I just love everything we have received.  THANK YOU, SMART Technologies!!!

    More Gala pictures are coming…we are having technical difficulties!!!

     

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  • A Day To Remember…

    Imagine waking up and realizing that today is the day you get to meet the President…go to the White House…and be honored at a Rose Garden Ceremony!!!  WOW!!! I need to pinch myself to make sure this is real!

    Fortunately, my husband was able to go with me to this celebration and spend a few days in Washington, D.C.  We were given a few hours this morning to get ready for our big day, so Steve and I decided to go see the monuments prior to going to the White House. 

      

      

    I did not have a chance to see the Korean Memorial when I toured the city on Sunday, and when I got there today I was blanketed by a strong sense of respect, gratitude and sadness for our fallen soldiers and those who made it home.  Being there made me think of my dad, my father-in-law and some family friends who served in this war.  A saying that was etched in a piece of granite was “Freedom is not free.”  

    How very true that saying is…I just want to thank all of the service men and women who protect our country everyday.  I’d also like to send a special “THANK YOU” to Harry Neales who is serving his fourth tour of duty…three were in Iraq and this time he is in Afghanistan.  I had the great fortune of teaching his two daughters.  Stephanie and Rachel spoke at the 2009 Maine Teacher of the Year Banquet…you can see their picture on my November 6th entry.

     

    There really are not enough words or adjectives to describe what it was like to be a part of this most precious day.  We had the privilege of listening to President Obama and to our own T.o.Y. hero the National Teacher of the Year…Anthony “Tony” Mullen.  After the speeches the President, the First Lady…Mrs. Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden (The Vice President’s wife)  and the Secretary of Education…Arne Duncan came around to all of the teachers and shook our hands and engaged in conversation.  I had to laugh when President Obama had to come get his wife, because she was talking to us for so long.  Well, Mr. President…I have to tell you that you are not alone in having a wife that enjoys socializing.   My poor husband is always waiting around while I say my goodbyes for what must seem like an eternity…he feels your pain.  ;)  

    Today was such an amazing day.  If you have a moment, please check out the C-Span website where you can listen to both the President’s and the 2009 National Teacher of the Year’s speech.

    http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2009/04/28/HP/A/17957/Pres+Obama+Presents+National+Teacher+of+the+Year+Award.aspx

    Also, here is another link to my photo albums on Webshots:

    http://community.webshots.com/album/571698304eoqIFJ 

    Enjoy!!!  I sure did!!! 

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  • Buddy visits the American Indian Smithsonian!

    Buddy visits the American Indian Smithsonian!
    Our day started with a trip to the Smithsonian Castle where we (the State Teachers of the Year) were broken into groups to attend several of the Smithsonian attractions.  See pictures at this link:  
    http://community.webshots.com/user/GLONOYES  Look at the album that says “Smithsonian.”
    My group went to the American Indian Museum where we listened to two marvelous curators who both spoke about their Indian heritage.  One curator’s message that resonated with me was… how we as a country are so wasteful.  He shared how his people (sorry can’t remember what country he said he was from???) recycle everything they can from mother earth.  For instance, they build their canoes out of reed grass or birch bark, animal tendons, cedar and sap.  They take bull horns and cut them in half…soak them in water and use them as bowls.  It was so impressive to hear this man’s quiet but strong message that we (as a nation) need to help save our planet by recycling, reusing and reducing our waste.  I am currently in the process of becoming an ambassador for the Smithsonian…if you check out the Smithsonian website you can search for artifacts, information on species, art, culture, etc.  If you are an educator this is a huge tool to use to gather accurate and current information with your students here is the link to the educator website:   http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/index.html 
    There are also links for students and families, too…enjoy!
     
           Dr. Jill Biden                           

    Dr. Jill Biden                                                

          Lucky me with Dr. Biden!!!

    Now for the second part of our day… a surprise event that was offered to the T.o.Y. group only a day before we arrived…a reception at Dr. Jill Biden’s house!!!  The Vice President’s home is located at the Naval Observatory and it is absolutely lovely.  Each state teacher had the opportunity to meet Dr. Biden and have their picture taken with her.  She addressed us from the staircase and thanked us for all we do for children.  Dr. Biden was a classroom teacher and is still teaching at the University level.  How cool would it be to have her as your professor???  She was absolutley elegant, warm and gracious.  She told us to make ourselves at home and check out the property.  When we left she walked out with us and stayed out on the sidewalk until our buses departed…she kept waving and even blew us a kiss.  It was a moment that I certainly will cherish.

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  • D.C. Here I come!!!

     

    Super flight to D.C.  The weather is gorgeous and I’m totally psyched for this fabulous chance to see my fellow S.T.o.Y.s and attend all of the events planned for us this week.  Did I mention that I’m going to the White House to meet the President on Tuesday!!!

    I wasn’t in my room for more than 10 minutes when my buddy Ms. Louisiana came to visit… she is such a wonderful person.  Next, I got ready for our limo ride to see downtown D.C. and the monuments.  There were about 10 of us that went on the tour.  Even “Buddy” our Congin bear enjoyed his time exploring the city. 

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  • Today, I was truly enlightened when I had the privilege of watching a master teacher, Bill Thompson, inspire his Juniors at Piscataquis Community High School.  His high-tech, hands-on, thought provoking Psychics class was engaging and meaningful.   His humor and passion for what he does so eloquently… radiated through his classroom as he captivated his students with a variety of mirrors, laser lights, golf balls, and the list goes on.  Some people in Bill’s town call him “Inspector Gadget,” while others refer to him as the “leading Home Depot shopper… in order to find gadgets and gizmos to incorporate into his class.”  I certainly believe them after witnessing his outstanding array of science gear. ( He also writes an astounding number of grants each year in order to keep his school/classroom on the cutting edge.)

    Today was rather interesting and precious, as almost every one of Bill’s colleagues was also a former student of his or he was their child’s/children’s teacher.   If you can believe it,  Mr. Thompson is finishing up his 42nd year as an educator… and there seems to be no end in sight for him.  Actually, he retired six years ago for two weeks and that was all he could stand…P.C.H.S. rehired Bill for his Physics position.  :)   Seeing Mr. Thompson’s long lasting impact on both his past and present students has truly inspired me to see that I too can be an effective teacher, no matter how long I decide to teach.  That is, as long as my heart is in the right place…and that’s being an advocate for students, making academic and personal connections and staying current with how they learn best. 

    Some of the other things said about  Mr. Thompson were:  “He tries anything that is right for kids…he’s the Father of Technology…He cares about me succeeding not only in his Physics class, but also in life…He’s very open, I like that openness about him…I like that air of relaxation and the air of humanity, he genuinely cares about us…I hope to be like him someday.”

    Assembly at P.C.H.S. for Mr. Thompson
    Assembly at P.C.H.S. for Mr. Thompson
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  • Barbara Noone

    Barbara Noone

    Another fantastic day visiting one of Maine’s T.o.Y. regional finalists, Barbara Noone, a sixth grade teacher who is also making a huge impact on her students’ lives. (Yesterday, we visited Lunt School in Falmouth…please see that entry for more information of what a “visit day” looks like.)  Driving up to Willard School there was a great sign welcoming the Dept. of Ed. and the T.o.Y….me. ;)  

    The day was filled with warmth and respect for this special teacher.  Some of the comments made by the panelists were….” Every day is a new adventure in her classroom, you just want to go back for more…it’s a place in your heart…a gift for a lifetime.”  ” She’s impacting children over distance and time…she’s professional, unique, fair…she inspires me.”  The day was fun, warm and full of heart touching stories.  How fortunate the state is to have such fine teachers to uplift, inspire and instill life-long learning for our students.

    Thank you Willard School for the wonderful day at your school…it was truly an honor to be in your presence.

                                                    

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  • Visiting Lunt School and Kevin Grover

    Kevin Grover

    Kevin Grover

    As the current Maine Teacher of the Year (MET.o.Y.), one privilege and assignment I get to do is visit the Regional Finalists at their schools.  A team of three to four scorers who are involved in the T.o.Y. program spend an entire school day at the finalist’s school to meet with the candidate’s administration, students (past and present), parents (past and present), and colleagues… we also observe a lesson in their classroom and conclude the day by meeting with the finalist to process the day. 

    Today, I had the privilege of visiting Lunt School in Falmouth, Maine.  Kevin Grover, a well adored second grade teacher, was our first of six visits in this process.  It was truly remarkable listening to all of the panelists who shared their affection and insight on this fine teacher.  Here are only a few of the comments made…”He’s genuine to the core…he’s respectful, kind, helpful and very nice…he’s always positive…he’s very calm and has a lot of patience with you… organized, proactive, thoughtful.”

    As I’ve said before to my own colleagues…I only wish each teacher, secretary, janitor, librarian, educational tech, cafeteria helper, principal, etc. could feel this kind of outpouring of respect and support.  Actually, I wish every living being could experience this type of day…it is seriously “chicken soup for the soul” to hear the good that an individual bestows on to others…it is a touching experience.  I challenge you (who ever is reading this blog) to make a genuine compliment to someone who makes a difference in your life.  Or better yet, write down a list of things that you admire about that person and hand it to them or mail it to their house.  Wouldn’t it be great to know that when this special someone is rifling through their mail…most likely frowning at all the bills and junk mail that dominates the mailbox, they will come upon a letter that tells them that they have made a difference to someone’s life. Can you just imagine that?  Wow…what a difference a positive message like that could make.  Consider this a homework assignment…ha.ha.  :)  

    Also, thank you so much Lunt School for your warm reception…it was a pleasure to spend time with all of you!!!              

                                                                

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