Three students -- one each in elementary, middle and high school categories -- and their honored teachers have been named winners in the Delaware Department of Education's Teacher Appreciation Essay Contest as the state celebrates National Teacher Appreciation Week this week.
With almost 1,000 entries, choosing winners was difficult, Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery said.
"What amazing stories the students shared about teachers who work hard to help them in and out of the regular school day," Lowery said. "Their words -- honest in a way that only children are -- reflect the love and dedication our educators show them every day."
The student writers will receive $50 gift cards, and their teachers will receive $100 gift cards and a little time off, as Lowery takes over their classrooms for a half a day to give them a much-deserved break.
The winners are:
- Third-grader Arden Sammons and his classroom teacher, Billy Davis, at Sunnyside Elementary School in the Smyrna School District. Davis, who attended the Smyrna School District before graduating from the University of Delaware with his bachelor's degree and Wilmington University with his master's degree, is a nine-year classroom veteran, the last three of which have been at Sunnyside. He was Smyrna Elementary and Smyrna School District Teacher of the Year in 2005-06.
"It's always a treat to step into Mr. Davis' classroom and watch exemplary teaching practices and learning strategies in action," Sunnyside Principal Kathy Castro said. "His classroom is rich, relaxed, and inviting, yet very organized and focused. He establishes high standards for learning and behavior that actualize in student performance.
"Mr. Davis asks questions that are designed to stimulate higher order thinking skills, uses multi-modal learning activities and technology to maintain an excellent engagement rate, and teaches his students strategies that enable them to understand and internalize the learning process thoroughly," she said.
- Eighth-grader Matt Rogers and his English teacher, Michelle Erskine, at Georgetown Middle School in the Indian River School District. Erskine, a graduate of Wilmington University, joined the district in 1999 and has taught at Georgetown Middle School for the past three years. Prior to that, she taught eight years at Sussex Central Middle School, which in 2008 was divided into Millsboro Middle and Georgetown Middle, and a year and a half at Selbyville Middle. She was Georgetown Middle School's Teacher of the Year for the 2008-09 school year. Erskine also works with students in Georgetown Middle's Broadway Knights Theater Academy.
"Creative, conscientious, and compassionate, Shelley Erskine epitomizes Indian River's motto – 'A Model of Excellence,' " Superintendent Susan Bunting said.
- Twelfth-grader Mary Elizabeth Dyer and Nora Miller, physical education teacher and cross country and swimming coach at Conrad Schools of Science in the Red Clay Consolidated School District. Miller, an alumna of West Chester University, has been teaching for four years, all at Conrad.
Her principal, Mark T. Pruitt Jr., said Miller has made a great impact on the Conrad community: "She is a role model for young women by teaching healthy living in the classroom and on the playing field while also being instrumental as chairperson of our championship sportsmanship program."
All of the essays, including the winners, are posted on DDOE's website, categorized by school.
Like the children, Lowery and the Delaware Department of Education say "thank you" to these dedicated professionals for all they do every day.
To explore all of the essays, please click here.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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