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2006 Gifted Teacher and Administrator of the Year Contest...
Meet the Winners!

Our congratulations, and a large package of books and products for gifted education, go to our 1st annual winners of the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page Gifted Teacher and Administrator of the Year Contest...

Teacher of the Year: Andrea Perez  and  Administrator of the Year: Morgan LeDonne

Mrs. Perez and Ms. LeDonne are wonderful examples of the many terrific teachers and administrators working with our gifted children.  Through appropriate education, enrichment, acceleration, and just plain caring, these wonderful people lift our gifted kids up to higher levels, encourage them to follow their dreams, and give their all to learning, and to life.  We need more folks like Mrs. Perez and Ms. LeDonne in education!

Thanks to my co-judges Kathi Kearney, teacher and affiliate with the Gifted Development Center, and Joni Lawver, parent and past president of Nebraska Association for the Gifted, for their help in this difficult selection.  There were many great teachers and administrators to pick from this year, and we were all happy to have such a difficult decision!  Mrs. Perez and Ms. LeDonne have been shipped a wonderful package of books and tools, from the following contest sponsors.  Thanks for their support to...

Each teacher and administrator nominated also received a "Recognition of Outstanding Service" certificate, thanking them for their contribution to gifted education.

If your organization would like to sponsor our next Gifted Teacher and Administrator of the Year Contest, by supplying books or products for the winning teacher and administrator, please contact  Carolyn K. or use the Feedback Form.  Thank you.

Andrea Perez, 3rd grade gifted teacher, Manatee Bay Elementary
Mrs. Perez lets us read books and do math at our own speed. One kid is already in the 7th grade math. She does more challenging things than some of the teachers in 4th and 5th grade. We also did science experiments, without her even knowing there was going to be a school-wide science fair. Some kids won in our class. She is a good artist and she is amazing at science.

Because of her we can have praying mantises, ladybugs and even fish in our class to observe. We do very advanced things sometimes too, like we had "pi" day where we learned about pi and even ate some pie! Also because of Mrs. Perez, who went and talked to the principal, we can use the 4th, 5th and even 6th grade books!

I have had Mrs. Perez as a teacher for two years in a row. Every one in my class thinks she is the best teacher in the whole school, and some even think she's the best teacher in the whole world! And I think that is really true.

Mrs. Perez does the 4th grade writing prompts with us too. Now, because of her, many of my classmates thing writing is fun when they used to think it was horrible. We have laptops in the class now and we do our animal research and biography reports. She also takes some students to the mooning announcements room to use the video cameras and work with each other on a film for her science work.

Last year I was too shy to come to school, but because of her I am not scared to come in or talk to any one. No one in the class is. We play fun games like the turtle game where all the students who where turtles had to get past all the students who where sharks and boats. It is a really fun game but only a few students who are turtles make it past the boats and sharks. Now she added crabs who walk back and forth in the kelp to eat the young baby turtles. Just like in real life! We now have a butterfly and a vegetable garden.

She really knows how to teach because she spent years at her old school teaching 17 year olds who were in the 6th grade because they had been in jail. She learned how to grow vegetables at her old school, where she grew vegetables for the Salvation Army.

There is also another game we play called "Bear Hunt". You have to roll the dice and if you get a certain number you get a certain food. If you rolled a six, you get a fate card. The fate cards are like you cannot eat food for two out of the ten days. Some fate cards said a poacher shoots you dead. There are also luck cards, like extra food. If you are a black bear you need 80lbs of food to live. If you are a grizzly bear, you need 160lbs of food to live and that is hard.

I could go on forever about what a great teacher Mrs. Perez is and never end this letter. I think she is the best teacher in the whole world and should win the award! -- Nominated by Daniel F-K

Morgan LeDonne, Instructional Supervisor, Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School
Ms. LeDonne began working with a profoundly gifted child having no experience with the population; only a willingness to learn and a serious dedication to meeting the needs of the individual children within her care. Over the past few years she has educated herself regarding the needs of the higher gifted ranges & has been willing to try methods which are well outside the box of "normal" educational situations as well as making herself available when needed - not just within the regularly scheduled hours (and throwing in a very good sense of the humorous in situations which have sent others into complete denial & frustration). She has shown an on-going willingness to really listen to the child and parents involved when considering the needs for adjustment while being forthright concerning her own stand on the issues involved and has been an awesome advocate when one is needed within the educational community, putting together a cross-disciplinary team to evaluate and address my child's needs, providing my child with mixed levels of challenging material each year which she can move through at her own pace. This has had the effect of awakening others within the educational system to the unique needs of children in the upper ranges of giftedness. As a result of Ms. LeDonne's on-going efforts, we have had the first workable school situation for our child. Prior to that we had been forced to home school our daughter for several years. She is truly a rare blessing within the teaching profession. -- Diana F.

Meet the Nominees!

These are the rest of the great teachers and administrators that were nominated for the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page 2006 Gifted Teacher and Administrator of the Year Contest.  Learn what they've done for their students, classes, schools and districts!

Martha Cosgrove, Third Grade Gifted and Talented Teacher, Oak Hill Elementary School
Martha Cosgrove is the kind of teacher you wish you could clone so children the world over could benefit from her ability to nurture, encourage and challenge each student to reach his or her fullest potential. Drop into any social event at the school and youíll find her surrounded by current and former students. I vividly recall the day I stopped in to ask her advice about the upcoming year, and saw a handful of outgoing students gathered around her. They were all telling her what they would be when they grew up, and how they would use those professions to personally help care for her!

It would be no surprise to see some of them fulfill that promise, as a way of giving back to a teacher who gives everyone in her class 110 percent. As the lead teacher in Oak Hill Elementary Schoolís 3rd grade Gifted and Talented Center, she understands that no two children are alike, and somehow manages to meet each of their individual needs. She ďgetsĒ what makes the gifted child tick, and is there to support and challenge that child to reach new heights. She is always available to parents, and makes them feel that their child is well cared for while out of their sight. She is never too busy to answer a question, or give you feedback on how your child is doing.

More importantly, she knows how to help a child stretch his or her mind in ways they may never have done before. She asks children to go deeper than simply learning the material and challenges them to explain how and why they arrived at their answers. They donít simply learn complex mathematical operations, they learn why they need to know them and how to use them in everyday life. And once theyíve answered those questions, she asks them to take it one step further by taking a stab at questions that perhaps donít have any clear-cut answers at all. In short, she is teaching them to think!

She also challenges the students to step outside themselves and try to experience the world from different points of view. One recent project asked students to become the main character in a book they had read, experiencing how it might feel to walk, talk and dress like their heroes, rather than simply telling what happened in the story.

Martha Cosgrove is the kind of teacher who makes a positive and lasting difference in a childís life. She approaches her job with intelligence, creativity, love, and the patience and energy needed to make each day count. You canít ask for anything more. -- Laura McCafferty

David Vixie, Teacher Paradise Adventist Academy
Hi my name is Mackenzie im 13 and im nominating my 8th grade teacher Mr. vixie. Mr. Vixie is a great teacher. He's different than other teachers ive had. He recently took our class on a wagon trip. We crossed Black Rock Canyon for a week in covered wagon. It was the most dredful trip ive ever been on in my life. No showers, no cars, just sleeping bags and a tarp to sleep on. But Mr. vixies point wasnt to have us go on a payed vacation in L.A. It was to give us a perspective on how life really is without our parents without someone always waiting on us hand and foot but to let us no how lucky we are. Our bills arnt gonna pay themselves when im older. Mr. Vixie has not only taught me respect but has taught more about life in the 5 weeks ive been in his class than my whole experience in school. One of the greatest characteristics that Mr. vixie has is that he dosnt care what people think. Onother thing Mr. Vixie has done is make us think more about other people than ourselves. I know about every person nominating there teacher will say this but remember i have learned not to care what people think so hear i go "id have to say that Mr. vixie is the best teacher ever. I just wish every teacher in the world could have a little Vixie in em. -- Mackenzie

Wendy Papciak, GATE Coordinator, Roosevelt Elementary School
Wendy oversees the GATE Program for Roosevelt Elementary School organizing and doing student testing, parent notifications and program meetings. In addition to her work administering the program which she does with a very minimal budget, Wendy provides resource connections to parents. She gives them a program overview at the beginning of the year complete with an "Introduction to the Gifted Child". Wendy organizes websites and resource links for parents to utilize and provides speakers such as the local representative of California Association of the Gifted to be available to assist and guide parents.

Wendy's work with children 3-5 involves working with colleagues to define the GATE Program for students in grades 3-5. She also teaches 3rd grade GATE students who are currently focusing on mastering challenging Sedoku math puzzles.

Wendy's work involves continually working to improve her teaching and learning with her 3rd grade GATE students as well as reviewing the school GATE Program at the site and district level. Wendy does this with dedication, constant care and very little resources except for her ingenuity and the collaboration of students, staff and parents.

Wendy is outstanding. -- Susan Guerrero

Dr. Ron Myers, Principal, Trinity Meadows Intermediate
We opened a new intermediate school. Dr. Myers, who is forward thinking in developing and implementing new programs agreed to pilot an inclusive gifted and talented program at our school. Students spend all day in core classes with their gifted peers. Students participate in an advanced curriculum of language arts, social studies, math, and science. Students also spend time evaluating themselves as gifted learners and develop projects in their personal interests. The program has already received much positive feedback from students and parents. Dr. Myers has supported and advocated this program from the beginning and was integral in its implementation in the district. -- Donalyn Miller

Danita Hobbs, Principal, Mamie Martin Elementary
After years of working with a cross-section of administrative styles, Mrs. Hobbs has without doubt exceeded my expectations of an equitable, "go the extra mile", school administrator supporting Gifted services. Her support is evident over the years and continually throughout our entire school district as well as in her advocacy within our community. She reaches out to GT's and seeks to understand their needs and to supply their needs in any way possible. She also is an excellent "encourager". Simply put, Mrs. Hobbs is greatly valued by our Gifted community. She also models exceptional administrative style. Whether battling Katrina, working with GT's and GT activities, or going to bat with innovative ideas, she achieves the positives. She even visited my hour and a half away graduate class to observe a presentation I was assigned. She deserves recognition. Our GT community is very fortunate to benefit from her influences. Thank you, Jeannie Wilson

Vicki Pease, 5th grade teacher, Floresta Elementary
Mrs. Pease is such an awesome teacher. She teaches through song, poetry, and fun. She loves her students and teaching. She goes above and beyond the call of duty for her students, parents and co workers. She is so involved in the school. She heads up several clubs, activities and functions with in the school. She not only teaches the children general subjects but she teaches them about life and life skills and she has fun doing it and it shows in her work and how she teaches. All of the children love her and want her as their teacher. She always smiles and loves watching and teaching the children grow. she has students from years ago still come to visit her and love her dearly. Every co worker will tell you that she is an excellent teacher and wonderful ideas for her class, teaching and co workers also. You have to choose her cause she is the BEST TEACHER EVER!!!!! We need more dedicated, loving teacher like her. If there is ever any classes, etc to help her grow in teaching she registers for it cause she loves to learn new ideas and talents on how to improve anything that needs to be for her students. She is constantly in contact with the parents with any concerns she may have. She stays late and even work a lot at home for her class.
Please pick her as the teacher of the year and you will see you made the best decision!!! Thanks -- Martha Vareha

Rosy Harkow, 5th grade gifted teacher, William Lehman Elementary
This is the third year my daughter has been fortunate enough to be a student in Mrs. Harkow's gifted class. She has taught 2nd, 3rd, and now is teaching 5th grade. She is amazing! After the first month in 2nd grade I saw an incredible change in my daughter. Mrs. Harkow is an awe inspiring educator who is loved by teachers, parents, and students alike. She knows her students strengths and weaknesses and teaches them the tools they need to build up both. She has introduced them to such things as the rainforest, the renaissance era, and fantasy writing. She shows them how to put on paper, the creative thoughts they hold within. Mrs. Harkow knows just how to captivate their minds and teach them how to embrace and expand their imagination in a way I have not seen any other educator do. She has a gift, and I am extremely fortunate enough that my daughter is once again, being blessed to have Mrs. Harkow as her teacher. She is one of a kind! -- Mindy Townsend

Lois Pipkin, AG teacher (3rd-5th), Hillsborough Elementary School
Lois Pipkin goes extra light-years for each student, managing to address individual needs while maintaining class cohesiveness. She made it cool to be in AG at HES; her students are enthusiastic about learning and eagerly look forward to her classes. She has been my son ally and advocate for the last 2 years, thus allowing him to explore his capabilities in a safe and supportive environment. I have always found her readily available; she has been incredibly helpful with at-home enrichment, modifications for his learning disability, and collaborations with his classroom teacher. I appreciate her friendship, her open and warm heart, and her wide-ranging interests (all of which she shares generously!!). As much as she does for us, she does for all children and parents in our AG Program. Lois Pipkin is a precious, rare gifted gift to our gifted children and parents at HES! -- Leslye Sinn

Carol Bell, Teacher, Pleasant Valley
Mrs. Bell should win because she is very kind and caring about her job. She answers your questions even after school hours. she makes share the us understand everything. She is the best teacher. -- Lauren P.

Linda Donaldson, Gifted Teacher, Chimney Lakes Elementary
Our daughter, Natalie, started in the gifted program (once a week pull-out program) halfway through last school year (as a first-grader). She returned again this year. She LOVES going to gifted!! Mrs. Donaldson makes learning FUN and INTERESTING! Being new to gifted education, we were hoping to get more than just busy/extra school work...Mrs. Donaldson does just that in her classes--she has creative projects, exciting field trips and most importantly is genuinely interested in the welfare of her students. She is a class act!! We don't know how many years she has been a gifted teacher for Duval County, but we hope she has no plans to retire any time soon! -- The Strauss family

Lee Guerette, Special Education, The Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School
The Parker Charter School is six year Massachusetts public charter middle and high school. My twin sons will be entering ninth grade this fall, and have been at Parker for the last two years. Both are gifted learning disabled students. Lee has worked with them for the last two years, providing academic support and encouragement. Lee is a special educator who works effortlessly for children whose self esteem and motivation suffer. Lee is dedicated to addressing the whole child with a unique understanding of special needs children. She gets it. And my sons are academically flourishing because of her dedication. -- Bonnie Haley

Nancy Macione, Principal, Oswegatchie School
Mrs. Macione has gone above and beyond to help us provide a challenging program for our son. She has orchestrated a team of professionals from the second and third grade teachers, TAG teacher, school psychologist, to the band teacher. They are all working hard to individualize a program and to do what is best for my son. Mrs. Macione always has time to listen and answer questions. She goes out of her way to make parents and students feel comfortable in her school. Many options have been offered but never have we felt pressured. Mrs. Macione is an example of how principals should treat all students as the special individuals that they are. -- Sue Bouchard

Miriam Nelson, Gifted and Talented Teacher, Forest Acres Elementary
Miriam is an outstanding gifted and talented teacher that inspires her students to learn. She is innovative with her units and has developed a Latin roots curriculum to benefit students in later years. She encourages her students to do their best and expects "stellar" results from each of her boys and girls. Miriam is very involved in the school with activities including head of safety patrols and involvement with the hospitality committee. Miriam is an asset to our school and our children. Visit her website to see the amazing things she does with her children at http://www.pickens.k12.sc.us/faeteachers/Staff/Special%20Areas/nelson/mrs_nelson.htm -- Leslie Morgan

Lisa Dougherty, AT Teacher, Hillendale Elementary
Last year, when I enrolled my child back in the district, I was very concerned about getting her learning needs meant. Many, including the principal and teachers, were instrumental in serving my child. One, however, despite her other IST duties, has went above and beyond. Lisa has spent endless hours in the summer and after school helping re-create a gifted program that not only benefits my child, but the other gifted students as well, sometimes at the expense of extra time with her own family. Last year she created a special literature pull-out in addition to the regular pull-out, so that my child could have the opportunity to work with her and others who read at her level. This year, she helped to create a Latin based English program, which she teaches, that meets everyday during the English period. The gifted kids not only need this, they love this. She meets with the teachers, she comes into the math class and pulls out the kids who need more into separate groups for more challenging math, she writes the GIEPs, attends PAGE conferences, and also is in the process of working with the middle school AT teachers to give them a heads up on the needs and successful learning strategies of the up and coming 5th graders. And again, all this while also performing her duties as the IST teacher.

While doing all of the above, and more, she also taps into the social emotional needs of these kids. They love her, as do the parents. Oh, and did I mention, despite flack from some of those adults who still don't get it, she will introduce lessons to the kids that have "are for high school kids", having to continue to explain to those mentioned above how these kids not only love it and need it, but believe it or not, can handle this level of challenge.

I cannot say enough about Lisa and the things she has personally done for my daughter. She has given my child a "home". Both academically, and emotionally, she has always shown my daughter she cares, and goes that extra mile. My child has grown both as a student and a person, able to recognize and be proud of being gifted. We both will miss her very much next year when Juliet goes off to middles school. She will be a tough act to follow for the middle school AT teachers. Lisa Dougherty is a role model for every teacher who ever comes in contact with a gifted student. If only there were more like her. -- Nominated by Helen Taylor

Leslie Rodriguez, Spanish teacher, Hayfield Secondary
She took me in after I skipped a level of Spanish and still helped me be successful on the AP Spanish Language Exam! -- Jeffery W.

Susan Michal, Magnet Coordinator, Forest Knolls Elementary School
There is no other way to say it...Susan Michal is a goddess. I have never met another teacher as passionate about her work, as committed to kids, as dedicated and hard working. She just is above and beyond on every level. She is a one-woman treasure for highly gifted kids, and, really, all kids at our school.

For years Ms. Michal has fostered winning student submissions to the International Student Media Festival, NASA competitions, robotics, and on and on. She leads students in a Junior Press Corps and in a student-run morning radio show. She is always seeking outside resources, speakers, and enrichment opportunities. When it comes time to recommend students for competitive magnet programs, she puts her heart and soul into those recommendations and advocates vigorously for students. She tells "her kids" that they are always welcome at Forest Knolls, and they continue to come back to work with her and younger students even after they've moved on to middle and high school. She gives kids responsibility, expects a lot and really loves them--and they know it.

On a personal note, Ms. Michal was an absolute lifesaver for my oldest daughter.  She "gets" GT kids.  She "got" her when other teachers didn't and she spoke up on her behalf.   At the end of a particularly difficult year, I told the principal, "I don't care about grades, I don't care if she 'learns' anything, just find any excuse possible to get my daughter out of her classroom and working with Ms. Michal."  Ms. Michal's room was a refuge. 

Ms. Michal is fabulous and I could get many other parents to support this nomination, if needed, so please let me know.

Below are links to a few pages from the school web pages. They don't adequately show the work that Ms. Michal does.

-- Nominated by Erica Burman

Keely Porter, TAG Specialist, Byrom and Tualatin Elementary Schools
Mrs. Keely Porter, TAG Specialist for Byrom and Tualatin Elementary Schools is the outstanding educator of the year and for the past 5 years in the TTSD school district. She advocates for all the students at our school and provides a variety of activities to challenge and explore areas of interests for all the TAG students and their friends. She works hard to provide stimulating learning that uses different styles of teaching and the students are able to discover things that are beyond what is offered through the regular curriculum. She has helped me socially, emotionally and especially intellectually. She ROCKS! -- Nominated by Nick D.

I believe that Mrs. Porter is the best teacher out there! I don't know how she does it, because she is currently going to collage for her PhD, and teaches T.A.G. at 2 schools! But she does some how.

Mrs. Porter sort of provides a way to escape the classroom, and have fun learning things that interest us. She has many activities to choose from that are all optional. A few of my favorites are: Thematic Thursday, (where we pick a subject and spend Thursdays after school learning about it together for a few weeks), COW, (challenge of the week, a fun little work sheet), and Dream Team Math, (where we predict what will happen at Blazers games and get points for them). But the one that I've like the best this year is Fascination Forum. In this, we pick a subject that fascinates us, and research it on our own for 2 months, then present it to anyone at the forum. It's also a good way to earn bobcat bucks, (our currency).

You see, we get paid with bobcat bucks for a lot of the work we do, and then at the end of the year there is an auction where we can spend all our money on cool stuff. We can also at any time buy a lunch with Mrs. Porter and a friend, or we can pay $5,000 to go to a bowling party at the end of the year.

Throughout the year, we sell lollipops to the kids at our school, and we use our money that we raise to go on a field trip. The field trips at the end of the year are always tons of fun!

Mrs. Porter also helped my sister through a rough year in fourth grade, and she is really helpful. I'm a little sad though, because next year, I'll be in middle school and I wont get to be with her. But I'm happy for the third and fourth graders who get to experience her for a little longer. And all I can say is that MRS. PORTER REALLY DOES ROCK! -- Nominated by Lindsey F.

I am amazed how Mrs. Porter can always be positive! Our district has cut her hours to half-time and put her in charge of TAG students at two different schools. This means she is at two schools; quarter time at each school. Mrs. Porter continues to be a hands-on teacher.

The children are offered a buffet of learning activities. She travels each month and shares her learning experiences only after the children have researched the travel destination. The research requirements change and are always related to the location. She brings back goodies to share, maps, information and sometimes food to sample.

The children can participate in Fascination Forum. Each child picks a topic they are interested in/fascinated by and learn more. The student then puts together a presentation and shares at an open house.

The children can eat their lunch while discussing current events or answering Brain Quest questions during Chew and Chat. There are Thematic Thursdays which run for three or four Thursdays on a particular topic; for example: Shakespeare, Stocks, WWII and so forth. Twilight TAG is a one time fun, experimental after school activity and this month's activity is on rockets.

The children are also involved with projects in their community. Mrs. Porter partnered the children with the local golf course to help the course earn an environmental certificate. She has worked with the children to test water on one of our local bioswales/bike paths that percolates water from roofs and major streets.

Even though our local NBA team has done poorly the children who participate in Dream Team Math are successful as they use statistics to predict player performance and measure the results.

Each month a book is selected and students gather in a book club to review and give their opinions. Believe it or not there is more! She has a wall where there are trivia questions, Challenges of the Week, map questions and whatever she thinks will challenge the children and open their minds.

The students help to raise money for their field trips with lollipop sales, can/plastic recycling and printer cartridges.

The children and Mrs. Porter are award winners. The students rehabilitated a habitat area at the school that has two glass walls and two solid walls making it such a success that the found frog was actually attacked by a hawk. It was very inviting. The Governor awarded the children and SOLV supported them.

The only program to be cut this year by Mrs. Porter because of lack of time was her Club 95. Those children who tested close to the TAG score participated in TAG activities and activities geared to them. We still have TAG Along which is where TAG students bring a friend to an activity. TAG has been an open armed program at our school.

All of us are so lucky to have such an open minded, enthusiastic and honestly caring teacher. It is obvious that Mrs. Porter gives our children more than what the District thinks they should get. With so many children participating and excited about learning I would think our District would outline the program and make it consistent throughout the District but instead they continue to threaten with more cuts.

Mrs. Porter is such a positive force in our children's still impressionable lives. Thank you for allowing us to have a forum for honoring those who give everything of themselves for our kids. -- Nominated by Marissa Houlberg

Sayra Webb, Elementary Teacher, Rainard School for Gifted Children
Ms. Webb is a wonderful teacher with an extraordinary depth of experience with gifted children. This was my oldest child's first year of school, so I can also attest to her ability to guide parents! She knows what gifted children are capable of, and also when they are overwhelmed. She is able to get them to that sweet spot where they are challenged but comfortable. She has a detailed understanding of where each of her students is in his or her skill development, and customizes each student's work to match his or her current skill levels. We couldn't have asked for a better teacher or a better school experience. -- Nominated by Victoria Crawford

Sayra Webb has taught at Rainard School for over five years and takes the gifted children at Rainard to new levels each year. She knows how they think and is wonderful with the young children and simply changes lives at the school. She makes it her life's mission to daily make learning fun and interesting for the students. She helps produce students with lifelong lessons and shape them to go on in later years. She should be recognized and stand out as an excellent teacher of gifted children in our nation." -- Nominated by Marie Kornahrens

Marilyn Wolf, Second Grade Teacher, Sonoma Country Day School
Ms. Wolf is the best teacher I have ever had. She taught me useful writing skills that motivated me to do my best and has given me more in depth assignments in order to challenge me. She explains concepts very well and never gets impatient with the kids. She has even allowed second graders to attend 6th grade math! -- Nominated by Cole A.

Jewell Hays, Junior High ALPHA Teacher, Holmes Junior High School
Mrs. Hays gives us time to do work on our end-of-the-year project during class. She also lets us come in and talk to her about problems that we may be having, both with teachers and with other things. Mrs. Hays is also a great teacher because she helped create the ALPHA program in Cedar Falls schools and works at both Peet and Holmes. -- Nominated by Meghan R.

Hank Starr, Chemistry /Science Teacher, Bloomfield High School
Mr. Starr, has been my son's science teacher since the 9th grades. Mr. Starr teaches honors courses that my son took. He is such an inspiration to all his students. He has given them the knowledge and ability to be successful in the classroom and community. He has the ability to reach out and encourage each of his student to be successful individuals. His ability to convey science concepts in a very simplistic manner is interesting. He has the ability to change student concept of science theory and application. -- Nominated by Elvira Crockett

Mary Rains, Principal, Atoka Elementary
I want to nominate Mrs. Rains for her unconditional support of gifted education within our school. It doesn't matter what hair-brained scheme I present to her for our gifted program, Mary always listens to what I have to say and then says, "Go for it!" I know that my children have had special experiences because of Mrs. Rains' vision and flexibility. We have been able to add Academic Bowls, special field trips, and additional class projects because of her enthusiasm for learning. I just want to thank her for her support of education in general and especially in the area of gifted education. -- Nominated by Geraldine Southern

Cherie Brogan, Gifted Cluster Teacher, Woodstock Elementary
I am proud to recommend Cheri Brogan for the Gifted Teacher of the Year. As the second grade Gifted Cluster Teacher at Woodstock Elementary, Mrs. Brogan has made a tremendous impact on our lives and we feel she deserves this nomination without hesitation. By encouraging individuality, providing a stimulating learning environment tailored to the student needs and focusing on student strengths, she brings out the best in all. She gives them the wings to soar.

In order to understand why Mrs. Brogan deserves this nomination, it is important to hear our story. We were headed down a common path associated with many of todayís gifted youth. Underachievement, frustration, failure and depression were first and foremost on our minds. Our son was learning to see himself in terms of failure instead of academic success. While receiving good grades, he wasnít given the opportunity to excel in the areas of his strengths and interests. He was developing a negative self-perception and started to hate school. His zest for life was dimming.

Mrs. Brogan has broken this cycle. By designing curriculum activities based on the needs and interests of the student, she has brought back our sonís love of learning. She understands all children are different and she respects these differences. She allows them to move on at greater speed when they have already mastered a subject but also provides help with difficulties. She is careful to not place an over emphasis on these difficulties because she knows how damaging this can be for the student.

This individual attention takes a great deal of time and work. She stays current on new teaching techniques and has tireless energy. By paying such close attention to different learning styles and motivators, Mrs. Brogan is stimulating a true love for learning. This has given our son a great sense of accomplishment and he believes in himself.

We are seeing our son thrive in such a respectful, flexible and open environment. Mrs. Brogan has the ability to make all the students feel they are appreciated, regardless of their shortcomings. Providing the studentís with a feeling of acceptance, she enables the studentís to achieve beyond their wildest dreams.

These are but a few reasons for nominating Mrs. Cherie Brogan for Teacher of the Year. She is shaping the lives of the children by showing them how learning can be fun and interesting while allowing them to follow their dreams.  -- Nominated by Christi Dyer

Alice Upchurch, Elementary Teacher, Whitley City Elementary School
Mrs. Upchurch is a very inovative and creative teacher who enjoys working with children. She is always inventing new ways to encourage children to strive for their goals. She rewards students acheivements and lets them know that they can always depend on her. Because she loves them that much she provides all their school supplies. She is always finding ways to engage the kids' imaginations. She loves to bring in different cultures so the kids are aware of the diverse cultures in our world. Mrs. Upchurch was one of the best teachers I have had. I'd love to have her again and again and again. -- Nominated by Noah D.

Timothy Moore, Principal, Whitley City Elementary School
Mr. Moore is a very inovative and creative man who enjoys working with children. He is always inventing new ways to encourage children to strive for their goals. He rewards studnts acheivements and lets them know that they can always depend on him because he loves them that much. -- Nominated by Alice Upchurch

Beth Milton, Teacher, Buies Creek Elementary School
Mrs. Milton is a very motivational and innovative teacher of gifted students. She uses energy, creativeness and challenging activities to motivate and entergize her students. She is reflective as she plans and implements strategies for reading, math, science, writing and social studies. Parents are very suportive. -- Nominated by Demaris Broadwater

Michelle Nichterlein, French Teacher, Creighton Middle School
She is a french teacher. She is really good with kids. She cares for other people. She does really good on teaching you french. If you need help on something for french, she will help you on it. She is also a really nice, loveing, caring teacher. -- Nominated by Jennifer T.

She is a french teacher. She is nice, caring,and loving. If she wins she could do alot for you. She is a awsome teacher! I known her since 7th grade. You would love her. She is very brillent and beutiful. She loves us! -- Nominated by Regan S.

Niel McCreesh, Teacher, Galloway Township Middle School
I nominated this teacher because he is a outstanding teacher and he could explain anything that a student ask him. He really does what he needs to do to get his students on the right track. I wish that you choose him as the teasher of the month and I reaaly do!!!! please!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -- Nominated by Asif K.

Tena Yancey, Teacher, Brookview Elementary
I think this teacher is the bestest teacher in the word because she's, good with kids, gives lots of hints and explains things to you -- Nominated by Adrianne E.

Verna Ehlers, Homebound Teacher, with Sycamore Middle School
Verna Ehlers was a homebound teacher last year in the Sycamore School District. She has been teaching for many years. My highly gifted son was homebound last year for 8 months due to a new diagnosis to him made in October.

When Verna first came to our home, my son was very manipulative with his time, as a gifted child can be. He would lay his head down on the table and literally ignore Verna as she tried to teach. She was calm, insistent, and never raised her voice or "lost it". I, on the other hand, would sit in the other room and cry. I couldn't get a handle on why he was so hard to handle. She never gave up. She just carried on and explained that she wasn't just going to go away and neither was the school work he needed to complete.

Slowly, she won his respect and came to get amazing results from him. I have enormous respect and heartfelt gratitude for Verna. She was tireless (on the outside anyway) and energetic each time she came over. Her positive attitude really carried him through. This is my way of thanking her for all she has done. This year he is back in school full-time, and I am convinced if I had any other tutor other that Verna, it would be a different story. I think her efforts were amazing working with such a gifted and challenging student. Thank you to Verna! -- Nominated by Paula Israel

Merla Hammack, Gifted and Talented Teacher, Sycamore Middle School
Merla has been the greatest asset to my gifted son who struggles with being gifted and would rather just "fit in". She has been a wonderful supporter and friend to the family as she understands that being gifted isn't always all roses. She went so far as to help locate a counselor who has experience in dealing with gifted kids, and where we live that is a tough job to do. I appreciate and love what she has done for my son and don't know how I will ever repay her for her patience and understanding. She is awesome! -- Nominated by Paula Israel

Jane Dargatz, Middle School Principal, Sycamore Middle School
... for being such a great advocate for my son and his exceptional ability. She is an amazing person and administrator!! -- Nominated by Paula Israel

Marjorie Davis, Eclipse Class Teacher, Avalon Elementary
Mrs. Davis has done a fantastic job with my daughter in the two years she has had her in class. At a very young age it was clear that my daughter was bright. Very bright. After much advocating and following up, I've been somewhat successful making sure my child remained interested and educated.

Once she got to Mrs. Davis' class, I no longer had to follow up, reminding the teacher to meet my child's needs as well as the needs of everyone else. Mrs. Davis is able to teach her blended 4/5 grade class in a way that helps the children feel challenged, interested and NORMAL. For many of the gifted children in Mrs. Davis' class, this is the first time they've been surrounded by a peer group of children just like them. Many of them have felt different, odd or maybe more privileged or better. Mrs. Davis reminds them that all children are gifted in some way. That they are as typical and special as every other child. She allows them to bloom while reminding them in subtle ways that they need to allow others to be in the limelight as well.

Mrs. Davis is tough. She only accepts work that uses the child's full capacity while supporting them to get there. She gives them freedom to learn and lead the class while making sure they learn the required items as well as the things that keep them loving school.

My child has bloomed while in her class and we know that for the rest of her learning career our daughter will always measure her teachers against Mrs. Davis.

I am glad we took the chance and changed schools. Mrs. Davis has restored my faith that a gifted child in an intercity school system can get what they need, both academically and socially. -- Nominated by Kristy Blazer deVries

Sharon Gerleman, Executive Director, Wisconsin Center for Gifted Learners
Sharon, with the help of many, started and has continued to run a school for the Gifted Learner since 1984. In addition to students, the school also offers classes for teachers who are interested in learning how to teach Gifted Learners. She has done this not as a money making opportunity, but only to help students and their families that would normally have no place to go. Lastly, the tuition of the school, while not free, is one of the lowest in the nation for schools focusing on educating Gifted Learners. -- Nominated by Scott McFarland

Cathy Gregory, Teacher & Gifted Specialist, A. D. Owens Elementary
Cathy Gregory has taught fifth grade gifted students for many years. With diligence and steadfastness, she has advocated for better methods of identification and services. Outside of the school day, she provides activities that support gifted and talented students through a variety of afterschool programs. Best of all, she sponsors our students in Academic Team competitions (Quick Recall). Cathy also reaches out to regular teachers in our school and district, and mentors teachers who are new to gifted education. This is Cathy's final year in the classroom, as she is retiring after spending her entire career in Newport schools. She will be greatly missed by students, parents, and staff! -- Nominated by Marsha DeWitt

Julie Page, ALPHA Teacher, Aboite Elementary School
Ms. Page is a great teacher! We get a lot of stuff done that we need to and some extra! She's the best teacher I've ever had! She's the first ALPHA teacher I've ever had and it's the best school year that I've ever had!

ALPHA is the name of our gifted and talented program. Ms. Page's class is the only elementary ALPHA class that does Project Citizen. We're just getting started and it's going to be a lot of fun and a lot of challenging work!

I always knew I liked math but I didn't realize how much until this year. We are doing 6th and 7th grade math and Ms. Page makes it fun by throwing in lots of games and puzzles, such as the factor game, the product game, and box-and-whisker plots. I used all of the statistics Ms. Page taught us in math to analyze my data for my science fair project. Guess what? My project is going to the Regionals! I thank Ms. Page for teaching me the statistics in math - they're so much fun!!

Ms. Page helped me and my family get into recycling because of the garbology project we did in September and October 2005. It was a great project and gave me all sorts of ideas to develop a plan for my family to get "green".

Again, Ms. Page is the best teacher I've ever had! -- Nominated by Zachary B

Kim Shine, Gifted Coordinator, Southeast School, Evergreen Park Public School District 124
Kim Shine is the gifted teacher to my three children. Kim has to teach at several schools in the district because of limited district resources. Her lesson plans, assignments, projects and field trips keep my children very excited about learning. While this job can be overwhelming since she is spread so thin throughout the district, she still finds a way to stay positive and encourages other teachers to learn more about what the gifted model is all about. I can only hope that our district will put more funding into what should be a larger program run by an outstanding teacher. -- Nominated by BJ Quigley

Barb Dullaghan, Elementary Gifted Specialist, Bloomington Public Schools
I nominate Barb Dullaghan for the vision she brought to Bloomington. After several years with no defined gifted services and a large number of gifted children, our district brought in 3 gifted specialists to cover the needs in a district with 11,000 or so K-12 students.

While all of the district specialists have brought boundless energy, enthusiasm and knowledge to Bloomington, Barb conjured a dream of creating a "school within a school" for highly gifted learners and was able to bring that vision to a reality with the help of (and sometimes in spite of) the other specialists, administration and the community.

In addition to the process of making Dimensions Academy a reality, Barb maintained her primary duties of helping 10 elementary schools provide services to their gifted students, teacher training, resource provider, parent education, student support and district coordinator for a Destination Imagination program that sends 30 or so teams to regional competitions each year. Oh, and did I mention she promotes Fermi math league, Jr. Great Books, has done partner teaching, individual and pull-out teaching, finds services and resources for all types of gifted kids with all kinds of needs and finds time for kids and parents.

The only thing hard about nominating Barb is leaving out our District Coordinator and Middle School Specialist who somehow maintain the level of energy it takes for 3 people to meet the needs of so many people in our school community. -- Nominated by Nancy Berg

Virginia Snyder, Director of GT Services, Hudson City School District
Virginia "Ginny" Snyder is the head gifted services in our school district that has numerous gifted children. After serving our community as a teacher for many years, Ginny assumed the position of Director of GT services in a district with a very high percentage of gifted children. Ginny has always worked with parents, teachers and students with the utmost respect and courtesy. She goes out of her way to be kind and caring. Even when a child is having a rough time, she gives that individual the benefit of the doubt, and always, always looks for the good in the situation. Her positive energy just radiates through our district. Ginny has made herself available via phone, email, in person, summers, school breaks.....any situation that necessitated her help.

In addition, Ginny goes out of her way to advocate and serve these children. Last year, she developed and taught a special gifted pullout for some extremely mathematically inclined 4th graders. This was above and beyond her normal responsibilities...but she made it a high priority and was just so wonderful with these kids.

But what has impressed me the most about Ginny is her open mindedness. She constantly had her ear bent towards understanding new research and developments in the field of gifted education. "Out of the box" thinking is nothing new to Ginny. If every teacher and administrator had the same level of open-mindedness that Ginny possesses, everyone would be well served.

Ginny has dedicated her life to teaching and nurturing children. She represents the best in all of us, and serves as a role model for all-children, parents, teachers and administrators. Her kindness, tireless work, and open-mindedness are deserving of the Hoagies' Administrator of the Year Award. Please reward her accordingly! -- Nominated by Lauren King

Susan Ziebarth, Montessori G2 Teacher, Montessori at Franklin
Susan Ziebarth has many gifted and highly gifted students in her class of 4th and 5th graders. She has encouraged them to explore topics of interest while providing challenging and thought-provoking reading and math work. She also holds all students to high levels of conduct and requires them to appreciate and have consideration for all of her students.

My son is PG and has Asperger's syndrome and spent his third grade year making creations of paper clips, erasers, and similar materials and hiding under desks and tables to avoid both academic work and social contact. He often pestered other students and prevented them from doing their work.

Sue Ziebarth capitalized on my son's initial reluctance to misbehave and compelled him to keep obeying the rules. She took him aside and counseled him when he had difficulties with other students. She paired him up with other similarly gifted boys to work on joint projects. She has provided challenging and interesting math work for him including all four arithmetic functions with negative numbers and the theory and calculation of square and cube roots. She made it clear that he had to do his homework and assigned extensive creative writing every week through which he has learned to work hard and develop a project over the course of a week. She probably spends many hours every weekend correcting and writing helpful comments on each of 29 papers. In third grade, he never had his homework to do. Last year in fourth grade, he did his homework when I told him to work on it. This year, he takes care of it himself so that I need only check periodically to make sure that it is done.

She has gone well out of her way to nurture him in every conceivable way and he has really blossomed in her classroom. He started to ask for playdates and sleepovers at the end of last year and this year several other students have started asked him to come for playdates, birthday parties, or sleepovers. He finally has real friends in his class.

My son has dramatically improved his behavior in her class. In his 3rd grade year he looked like he needed a full-time EBD classroom and seemed to be headed for a life of crime. He now is successful both academically and socially and headed for middle school with a firm grounding in both. -- Nominated by Margaret Pellegrini

Jeanne Schroeder, Gifted Science Teacher, Swift Creek Middle School
Mrs. Schroeder is a fun, delightful science teacher! She taught school in Wisconsin for a while so she has accumulated a thick Wisconsin accent. She's more fun than most teachers because she tells stories about her days in Wisconsin and the funny moments that she has experienced. Some students get to go on a trip with her to Wisconsin and learn about glaciers and other things that Floridians don't really get enough exposure to. We do many hands-on science experiments, which makes science fun to learn. Unlike many teachers, Mrs. Schroeder treats us like adults. She expects us to be mature, and when the class is mature we get to participate in fun activities. Mrs. Schroeder has everything you'd ever want in a teacher; she's funny, has an interesting background, and makes learning fun. She should be Hoagies' Teacher of the Year! -- Nominated by Holly B.

David Clark, Social Studies Teacher, Plainwell High School
Mr. Clark is very understanding and always takes time for us to ask questions. He makes sure we understand the information thoroughly, also since we are an A.P. U.S. History class we are assigned extra homework, but Mr. Clark gives us plenty of time to ask questions and work on it during class. I think Mr. Clark deserves this award because he truly knows how to teach students in a fun and successful way. -- Nominated by Jessica L.

Mr. Clark is a hard working teacher who takes his own time to help his students learn. He makes class fun even for us older students who don't want to be at school some of the time. -- Nominated by Tiffany M.

Tim Nolan, Social Studies Teacher, R. J. Grey Junior High School
Tim Nolan teaches eighth grade Social Studies at R. J. Grey Junior High School in Acton, Massachusetts. My older sister and brother, both gifted in different ways, had him before I, and both learned and had fun under his instruction. He is the best teacher that I have ever had, and most likely, the best teacher I will ever have. Mr. Nolan provides different types of assignments to allow all types of learners to learn in his class. In addition, open-ended assignments allow gifted students in his classroom to delve deeper into the subject Ė for me, the subject was Islam. He always treats his students with respect and talks to them as peers, acknowledging that he can learn from them, too. He once even asked me to read over a review he wrote that was getting published! Thank you, Mr. Nolan! Your influence will stay with me forever.  Nominated by Bridget O.

Brenda Busby, Coordinator/Teacher T.A.C.K. Lab Program, Barnes Elementary School
Miss Busby cares about her students. She gives of herself all year long, even during her free time in the summer when she puts on science camps. She's never too busy for us.  She encourages me a lot. In class we work on logic, creativity, what is going on in the world, and more. She has been teaching T.A.C.K. Lab for probably fifteen years. She tests kids, she helps teachers understand us, always asks us if our answers are the most creative we can come up with, and helps me solve problems like when I need more challenge.  When I am working on something she always likes my ideas and never makes me feel bad. She asks me questions that help me do better work.  Miss Busby thinks it is really important that we have other friends to work with in the gifted program. When people disagree she always tries to get them work together and shows us that our different ideas are both good.  We have a new T.A.C.K. Lab teacher at our school this year and she's helping her be a better teacher, too.  MISS BUSBY IS THE BEST!  Nominated by Madison D.

Deborah Anders, Assistant Director of the Gifted and Talented Ed., Tucson Unified School District
Deborah came to department 18 months ago and she has been able to help improve lesson planning, rubrics, parent communication and is trying to form a parent group. She is an extremely good problem solver and efficient communicator.  Nominated by Alzira Duncan

updated December 01, 2020

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