Thirty-five Norwood teachers were nominated for the 14th annual Norwood Teacher of the Year Award, having been put forward by colleagues, parents and students who have shared stories of the teachers’ exemplary work. The winner will be announced Tuesday, April 14. We have announced the five finalists for the award.
Teresa Drummey, Norwood High School
The fifth finalist to qualify for the 2020 Norwood Teacher of the Year Award is Teresa Drummey, Norwood High School English teacher. Nominated by members of her 12th grade AP English classes, her students noted her exceptional ability to bring students deep into challenging texts such as Dante’s Inferno and Shakespeare.
Student Stephen Ailinger noted that many of the literature discussions thread back to the human condition. “This has enabled us to grow as people. I know that we’ve done so much self-reflection as a result of this class. She challenges us to do self-reflection after every major assessment, but also sporadically throughout the term,” he said
He added, “The consistent energy she brings to the classroom is palpable. Her ostensibly strict teaching style is what drives us to be better students. She expects the most of us and does not tolerate laziness and yet we know that she loves us, is there for us, and will support us in all our endeavors.”
The Norwood Teacher of the Year Award winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 14. The winner will receive a cash award as well as a charitable school donation in their name.
Jason Andrews, Dr. Philip O. Coakley Middle School
Jason Andrews, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at the Dr. Philip O. Coakley Middle School, is the fourth finalist to qualify for the 2020 Norwood Teacher of the Year Award. School principal Dr. Margo Fraczek noted how Mr. Andrews integrates technology seamlessly to support student learning and brought innovative methods of teaching ELA to teaching practices at the school. These include "No Red Ink," an online tool used to improve student writing and grammar. He also created an African American literature elective at the school and developed schoolwide lessons supporting Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month observances.
Parent Kathy Langley noted that Mr. Andrews finds ways to use light humor in his teaching to keep students engaged. “I really enjoy seeing that Mr. Andrews uses a variety of methods to help strengthen the students’ ELA skills, whether it’s a short journal entry, answering questions from a story, a longer written piece or other activity. Changing up the activities also helps keep the students’ interest.”
The final finalist for the 2020 Norwood Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on April 9., and the winner will be unveiled Tuesday, April 14.
Janet Lynch, F.A. Cleveland Elementary School
Janet Lynch, a special education teacher at the F.A. Cleveland Elementary School, is the third finalist to qualify for the 2020 Norwood Teacher of the Year Award. She was nominated by colleague Marisa Farulla, who recognized Ms. Lynch as a compassionate, collaborative teacher who works in unison with the school’s teachers and staff to engage and teach students.
“Janet’s compassion for others is also apparent in her ways of student engagement. She is always willing to help with new creative or strategic ideas. As we all know, student engagement is important, and Janet has this ability to turn everything into a teachable moment to engage her kids to a plethora of subjects.” She was also recognized for creating a highly engaging environment in the school’s sensory room, which includes a PVC pipe tent, trampoline, comfort blanket and more, and for her work in helping students learn outside the classroom, such as a trip to Franklin Park Zoo, where she arrange admission and transportation for students requiring accommodation.
Two more finalists for the 2020 Norwood Teacher of the Year will be announced, one each day, on April 8 and 9. The winner will be announced Tuesday, April 14.
Karen Gorman - St. Catherine of Siena School
A first grade teacher at St. Catherine of Siena School, Karen Gorman is the second finalist to qualify for the 2020 Norwood Teacher of the Year Award. She was recognized by several parents both for her tireless work in the classroom as well as service projects she leads, such as having her students write out get-well cards for patients at Norwood Hospital.
One parent of a former student wrote, “She is compassionate and nurturing even with the most challenging of students. Each and every day she strives to show the children how fun it is to learn, be kind to others and always do their best.”
Several nominations from parents noted her ability to reach children in a variety of ways. “She takes extra time to talk with the parents about our concerns and tailors her teaching approach to each child differently as she sees fit to their specific learning style. She truly loves these kids and we feel more than fortunate that she is our son's teacher.”
Another parent wrote, “Most importantly, Mrs. Gorman is helping to build confidence in these six and seven-year olds that can’t be matched. She’s laying a foundation of education, compassion, respect and faith they will carry with them for a lifetime.”
Christine LaRaia - Norwood High School
Several past and present students of Mrs. LaRaia shared their insights in support of her nomination, all of them praising the supportive, safe environment that she creates for students in the school’s therapeutic and academic classroom, TASC. One wrote, “The warmth she brings to that classroom is unbelievable. It's so easy to just let things out and talk. It was so easy to tell her I'm struggling with my work and needed help.” Another added, “She always kept my head up and motivated me to do things that I didn’t want to do.”
“On a daily basis she teaches not only a vast number of academic subjects, but also life lessons, conflict resolution, social/emotional learning, empathy, and perseverance,” said Leah Reed, an adjustment counselor at Norwood High School. She added that Mrs. LaRaia continually offers creative projects that keep her students engaged with each other, and highlighted her work to apply successfully for an annual grant to help support TASC.
Christine LaRaia is the first of five finalists to be announced for this year's Norwood Teacher of the Year Award. Subsequent finalists will be announced between April 6 through 9.
Organized annually by the Orient Lodge of Masons, the Norwood Teacher of the Year award recognizes teachers for their dedication and commitment to the education of Norwood students.
Follow all the Teacher of the Year news on Orient Lodge’s Twitter and Facebook pages using the hashtag #2020NorwoodTOY.
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