Here is some more good news. This is the release from Cherokee County about its teacher of the year.
(Other district ought to send me their news about teachers of the year.)
From Cherokee County:
Macedonia Elementary School teacher Sandy Giudice’s third-grade classroom looks like what you would expect, but it doesn’t sound like it.
“All you need is love,” she sings to the students when they need to return their focus to their classwork.
“Love, love, love,” they sing back.
And that is the message that Ms. Giudice, the Cherokee County School District’s Teacher of the Year, said she hopes her students keep in their hearts forever.
“That I loved them,” Ms. Giudice, who is in her 11th year of teaching, said of how she hopes her students remember her. “That I cared about them and always wanted the best for them.”
Ms. Giudice was visited in her classroom today by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo, who surprised her, her students and the school with the news of her selection as the top teacher in the District. He presented Ms. Giudice with a bouquet of roses to the cheers of her students, who quickly rushed her with hugs.
“She has this inner drive to make sure not one child is left behind… that every child is challenged,” Dr. Petruzielo said. “She is only going to be happy if all of the kids succeed.”
The District’s Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders, who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year. The school winners are selected by their peers.
Ms. Giudice will be honored in December at the District’s annual Teacher of the Year Banquet sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee and Credit Union of Georgia. She also will be entered as the District’s nominee for 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in the spring.
Dr. Petruzielo said Ms. Giudice’s path to becoming a teacher, which came after working as a journalist and in public relations and communications, gives her a “perspective that’s really great” in relating to parents, adding that she’s an articulate advocate for her fellow educators.
“She can not only represent teachers in Macedonia Elementary School well, but also teachers across the country,” he said, noting he especially appreciated learning her views on the negative impact of increasing class size and the caveats of the State’s new teacher evaluations, such as her understanding that while the new system is better, it still doesn’t give the full picture of a teacher’s performance.
“There is some magic in the classroom that can’t be captured on paper,” he said.
Ms. Giudice said while she feels she was “born to teach,” she didn’t pursue the path until it was suggested by the principal of her children’s school, where she was substitute teaching.
That principal was Michael Vernor, who today, as a director in the District’s Office of School Operations, oversees all elementary schools.
After he suggested Ms. Giudice become a full-time teacher and guided her through the alternative certification process, Vernor said he was privileged to have her as one of his employees at Woodstock Elementary School, a Title I school, for five years.
“She has a true passion for each of her students… She is not only their teacher, but she is their strongest advocate toward ensuring that her students are highly successful,” he said, noting Ms. Giudice often would work late to help her students and to share knowledge with colleagues.
After achieving her certification, Ms. Giudice went on to earn a master’s degree in early childhood education from Piedmont College, a Gifted Endorsement and Teach21 technology certification. She’s active in school committees such as Response to Intervention and Literacy and is a CPR and First Aid-certified First Responder and a strong supporter of PTA and charitable projects at Macedonia Elementary.
Ms. Giudice’s involvement in the community is not limited to her work and volunteerism at the school, as she also is very active in her church, The River, and volunteers annually with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraiser. She lives in Canton and has two grown daughters.
Principal Tammy Castleberry describes Ms. Giudice as “every principal’s dream.” She praises her energy, devotion for students of all abilities, creativity and willingness to mentor new teachers.
“You never know what’s going to be happening… it’s like a live Broadway show,” Ms. Castleberry said of Ms. Giudice’s “captivating” teaching style in the classroom, noting she’s heard singing and “Tarzan” calls and seen creative experiments and dancing. “But one can always rest assured that active learning will be taking place.”
Ms. Giudice’s concern for her students extends beyond ensuring they master standards and succeed on standardized tests.
There is the little girl who was academically gifted, but didn’t know how to tie her shoes. Ms. Giudice, without drawing attention from other students, worked with this child for half the school year until not only could she tie her own shoes, but she would tie her classmates’ shoes, too.
There was the little boy who came to school without socks, and it wasn’t because he forgot to put them on that morning. Ms. Giudice knew his family was struggling financially and made sure he had socks every day after that.
Her students sum up what makes their teacher great with these words: organized, fun, smart, nice, hilarious, generous, good.
“She’s always there for us when we need her,” Braeden Garriques said.
And the feeling is mutual, according to Ms. Giudice, even with the growing challenges facing public school teachers today.
“I feel like I’m unwrapping a Christmas present every day,” she said. “I love coming to work.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog