Laurel School District announces its 2018 Teacher of the Year

By Rachel Farris

Laurel School District held a ceremony to announce and celebrate their District Teacher of the Year and all of the nominees on Thursday, May 11. Kathryn Badger of P.L. Dunbar, Jonathan Gianacoplis of North Laurel, Angela Johnson of Laurel Middle, and Jennifer Teagle of Laurel High were all Teachers of the Year for their individual schools.
The relationships of teachers and students were the focus of the celebrations in what made these teachers so special. The Laurel School District's mission is rigor, relevance, and relationships. Shawn Larrimore, superintendent, said that many of the teachers have told him this is backwards. It should be relationships first, he said, because without relationships, we can't apply the rigor and we can't apply the relevance. He recited a quote, saying students may forget what you teach them, but they will not forget how you made them feel. He then introduced Erin Brennan, the 2017 Laurel Teacher of the Year.
Throughout my time as teacher of the year, I would definitely say that the most valuable takeaways from this experience was the opportunity to reflect on myself as an educator and spread a message close to my heart about the importance of relationship building with our students, Brennan said. We as educators can truly help lead children to a place of success and happiness just as we can lead children to a place of failure and defeat I hope that whoever is named teacher of the year tonight takes ahold of this opportunity to not just represent our district, but to hopefully plant a message, whether from other teachers of the year across our state or their own personal insight, and use it as a vehicle to improve our district and ultimately education in our state.
No matter who wins the title of District Teacher of the Year, remember that each one of you represents our district so well, she told the nominees. You represent our district with rigor, relationships, compassion, and pride. As a colleague and a parent of a child in this district, thank you for your dedication.

Each teacher was described by colleagues and friends who nominated them before the announcement was made. From Badger's dedication to instilling a love of learning in her preschool students, to Gianacoplis's passion for math and determination that every child he teaches succeed, to Johnson's leadership in the 5th grade team, to Teagle's creation of trust between herself and her students, each teacher brought strong relationships and abilities to their positions.
Jennifer Teagle was announced as the Laurel 2018 District Teacher of the Year. Teagle thanked her family for their support and joked that though she is a Delmar graduate, she loves Laurel School District. When I came here in March of 2007 I became an 8th grade English teacher, and I have never wanted to go anywhere else because I love this district. I love the children, I love the staff, Teagle said. In this place, you are encouraged and loved and cared for beyond just what you do. You are cared for as a person. We've been through so many different things together as a staff and were always there for one another, to encourage and uplift. The next thing that I'm thankful for is our administration. The men and women in our administration believe in us as teachers and you feel it. You get postcards in your mailbox that affirm what you're doing each day It means the world. A little note is a wonderful thing, and it keeps you going in those days that might be a little challenging.
We need to keep doing what we're doing, she concluded, because I believe truly that it's working and I'm seeing the culture change. I'm seeing kids be proud of where they're going.
We're so happy to have you representing our district, Ashley Giska, assistant superintendent, told Teagle. This is a special week because we're celebrating all of the things all of our teachers do this week, and anyone of you in this district could be up on this stage because all of you give so much every day so freely and you responded to all the things that we've asked you to do. I'm so proud to be part of this faculty and to have these folks up on stage. Giska described Teagle's energy and how it can move her students and anyone who comes in contact with her, as well as her persistance in bringing 100 percent to her classroom. Energy and persistance conquers all things, he quoted.

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