Greenwich 2014 Distinguished Teachers Receive Standing Ovation at Thursday BOE Meeting

riversideBy Leslie Yager
At Riverside School Thursday night the Board of Education meeting started off with the introduction of the 2014 Distinguished teachers.

Barbara O’Neill likened the honor of Distinguished Teacher Awards to an “unveiling of the Oscars but not just for one performance, but for years and years, day in and out.”

Angela Schmidt, the Distinguished Teacher Committee Chair, said there were many outstanding candidates, and that narrowing it down was no easy task.

Introducing Mara Adelsberg, a guidance counselor at GHS who also serves as AVID site coordinator, Schmidt said that as she read through Adelsberg’s information packet, she was struck by the data of the AVID class of 2014 and how 86% were enrolled in AP classes and that their GPA averaged 3.2 compared to the average in Greenwich of 3.3.

Her nominee described Adelsberg as, “the teaching professional you always hoped was involved in your life or your children’s lives. She is inspiring in her uniquely quiet manner.”

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2014 Distinguished Teachers. Mara Adelsberg, Cheryl Iozzo, Sheri McGowan, James M. Micik, Robert Walsh, Lin Young. Credit: Leslie Yager

Mrs. Schmidt quoted Dr. Cheryl Iozzo, an art teacher at North Street School, saying, “The NSS art room is an art studio. We have the privilege of creating art ‘aha’ moments.”

According to Schmidt, Riverside School’s 1st grade teacher Sheri McGowan wrote, “From the first day forward I treat my students with the same respect I expect from them. What the students have to share is just as important as what I have to teach.”  According to Schmidt, McGowan’s nominator added, “Every day Sheri gives her class one of the most important,  intangible elements of learning that isn’t part of standard curriculum. She imparts in her students, confidence in oneself in the classroom, wherever they  stand on the bell curve. This is a huge gift as it enables them to flourish, in grade after grade.”

Robert Walsh is an 8th grade English teacher at EMS. In his writing he said, “My classroom is set up to foster intellectual curiosity in my students, while instilling respect for themselves and others. I offer a rigorous course of study and push them to push them to raise their expectations of themselves, by scaffolding them through complex source material and high level critical analysis.

One of Walsh’s students, Pierce Orenstein said, “The most fantastic trait of Mr. Walsh possesses is his ability to listen, and guide us to perform well. Mr. Walsh is just one of those teachers who puts the perfect blend of teaching and entertainment into his lessons.”

Of EMS 6th grade science teacher, Schmidt quoted the nominator, Laurel Caputo. “Reflecting on the pivotal middle years, I cannot recall any other teacher whose classrooms were layered with the liveliness of Dr. Micik. Dr. Micik’s lighthearted approach makes students feel at ease with challenging data.”

Lyn Young teaches Mandarin Chinese at Greenwich High School and was recently selected as an Asian Society Chinese Language teaching fellow. She also co-wrote the application to become one out of 100 exemplary schools in the nation to be part of the Confusion Classroom Network.

Schmidt said that in her responses, Young quoted a colleague: “If you want to be a good teacher, you need to teach Chinese well, but it you want to be a great educator, you need to remember that the language is only a vehicle with which you will lead your students to their ultimate goals and explorations to obtain the highest level of satisfaction and happiness in their lives.”

“Young has kept that advice close to her heart for the past eight years,” said Schmidt.