Eight Teachers of the Year were announced Friday by Oak Ridge Schools.
Here is the Teacher of the Year at each Oak Ridge school:
- Glenwood Elementary School—Kristi Boruff
- Linden Elementary School—Glenda Bergener
- Willow Brook Elementary School—Ashley Branson
- Woodland Elementary School—Amy Brewer
- Jefferson Middle School—Emily Haverkamp
- Robertsville Middle School—Julie Kinder-MacMillan
- Oak Ridge High School—Tom Froning
- Secret City Academy—Lars Hondorf
Every year, the Tennessee Department of Education recognizes outstanding educators in the state with awards for their meritorious service and devotion to students, a press release said. The department applauds teachers who care about children, who devote their professional lives to enriching the lives of Tennessee children, and who demonstrate exceptional gains in student achievement, the press release said. Goals of the program are to:
- Promote effective teaching practices by recognizing and rewarding outstanding teachers.
- Engage regional teachers of the year in education policy making through the Teacher Advisory Council.
- Encourage participation by every school in the state so that all Tennessee teachers may be recognized and rewarded.
- Build a network of local and state corporate sponsors.
- Provide a network for teachers to share effective practices.
- Encourage a sense of professionalism in teaching.
- Encourage greater participation in building a strong community-school partnership.
Each district in the state may submit one nominee for the state-level award.
“As part of this process, we seek teacher candidates from each school in the district,” the press release said. “Oak Ridge Schools would like to congratulate the school-level winners nominated by their principals and peers.”
Glenwood Elementary: Principal, Pearl Goins; Teacher of the Year, Kristi Boruff
Kristi is a first grade teacher who has consistently helped students grow to proficiency in reading and math skills. Kristi enjoys engaging students in collaborative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities that lead them to become problem solvers. Incorporating STEM activities allows her to teach standards from all subjects in a lesson, and not simply in isolation.
She and her colleagues at Glenwood have developed school-wide extended problem-based learning projects with real-world meaning for all students. According to Kristi’s principal and peers, she is a dedicated professional who fosters a solid academic foundation while making learning enjoyable to motivate students.
Linden Elementary: Principal, Roger Ward; Teacher of the Year, Glenda Bergener
Glenda is the seminal leader of the Fresh Start elementary alternative program housed at Linden. Glenda takes a unique approach with students in which she models coping strategies based on her own life situations. One of her favorite lessons included a request she made of her supervisors to reprimand her for a slight infraction. She reacted for her students, and allowed them to coach her with proper replacement skills.
Her principal and peers agree that what yields success in Glenda’s classroom is that student goal achievement includes more variables than performance on tests. Parent involvement, social well-being, and student perceptions play key roles, and she consistently expresses to students their inherent value so they will not give up.
Willow Brook Elementary: Principal, Sherrie Fairchild-Keyes; Teacher of the Year, Ashley Branson
Ashley is a fourth-grade teacher who capitalizes on a variety of learning modalities to ensure all students succeed. Her favorite lessons include differentiated activities that allow students to learn from their mistakes, and refuse to give up regardless of how hard it is.
Ashley sets goals with her students both for academics and for positive behavior. She emphasizes they are receiving behavioral “Bear Bucks” not for making 100 percent, but for being responsible enough to put forth the effort to achieve multiplication fluency, for instance. Her principal and peers agree that what sets Ashley apart is her changing impact on both students and colleagues, instilling a learning contagion and growth mindset.
Woodland Elementary: Principal, Nancy West; Teacher of the Year, Amy Brewer
Amy is a first grade teacher whose differentiated instruction keeps students engaged and enthusiastic through hands-on STEM-based learning that includes writing, reading, problem solving, and technology. An example she shares is an economics lesson based on reading the book “The Lemonade War.” Students constructed mini-lemonade stands from popsicle sticks, tape, and index cards. Real lemons were the “ink” for secret messages. Students completed research with technology to determine whether lemon seeds would grow in East Tennessee in the winter. Students planted seeds to test the results.
Amy’s principal and peers agree that her strengths lie in her love for quality reading, writing, and STEM instruction, as well as bringing out the best in everyone.
Jefferson Middle School: Principal, Phil Cox; Teacher of the Year, Emily Haverkamp
Emily is a library media specialist who uses multidisciplinary learning strategies infused with technology. One of her favorite lessons is one she created in November (picture book month) with seventh-grade English students who were learning how to create citations. Students read biographical picture books and built their citations in picture-book format. Students enjoyed the format so much that many created more than one, simply because it was fun. In January, when their research projects were due, they remembered the process and replicated it with ease.
Emily’s principal and peers attest to her collaborative professionalism and desire to reach all students, staff, and families. Her inviting maker space environment is the backdrop of many creative STEM activities that occur in the Media Center, the hub learning at Jefferson.
Robertsville Middle School: Principal, Garfield Adams; Teacher of the Year, Julie Kinder-MacMillan
Julie Kinder-McMillan teaches eighth-grade reading/language arts as well as journalism and yearbook. One of her passions is to educate students about the Holocaust using the “Diary of Anne Frank” as a learning platform, as Anne is close in age to her students. It provides an entry point and puts a face on the nameless numbers of victims. Julie has participated in numerous trainings to enhance her teaching, and had the pleasure of bringing in Holocaust survivor Mira Kimmelman to meet her students.
Julie’s principal and colleagues agree that her commitment to teaching inside and outside the classroom benefits all students academically and socially. She has a welcoming presence that fosters confidence in her students and elicits camaraderie among staff members. In the minds of students and staff alike, they say that Julie has “always been their Teacher of the Year.”
Oak Ridge High School: Principal, Martin McDonald; Teacher of the Year, Tom Froning
Tom teaches Algebra 2, Advanced Placement Statistics, and an accelerated course for Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II called AGATE that allows students access to honors and AP courses.
Rather than a favorite lesson or strategy, Tom identifies three core beliefs that yield his student achievement: 1) The word LOVE is most often spelled TIME; 2) People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care; and 3) Be a life-long learner. Recommendations from peers and students past and present echo his commitment to these principles. Time invested and genuine care for the well-being of the people Tom mentors are the hallmarks of his success.
Secret City Academy: Principal, Christopher Scott; Teacher of the Year, Lars Hondorf
Lars teaches Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and math interventions at the Secret City Academy. He says the strategies that define him as an educator are productive struggle coupled with leading questions. Often, students just want an answer in math. They arrive believing that the right answer is the goal, and learn that the journey, generalizations, and methods to solving problems are more important. He believes that the development of the student-teacher relationships over the course of multiple lessons is a key to evolving better leading questions.
Consistent themes from his principal and peers are Lars’ commitment to differentiating instruction for his students of diverse abilities, his patience, and his firmness while remaining fair and friendly. His peers appreciate his commitment to leadership as a professional learning community coach and technology leader in the academy.
This press release was submitted by Holly Cross.
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