Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 Yuma County Teacher of the Year

On Tuesday night I was awarded 2013 Yuma County Teacher of the Year.  I was first nominated by my peers and co-workers at GW Carver Elementary for the Special Area category.  There were about 150 nominees total in 5 different categories.  From there we were interviewed by a panel of local business men and woman from the area Rotary clubs.  From that interview I was chosen as a semi-finalist in my category.  There were a total of 15 semi-finalists.  We were to write an essay and submit a video, then go through a final interview with a larger panel of judges.  None of us were to know the finalists for each category or the Teacher of the Year until we were announced at the Banquet/Ceremony Tuesday night. Click on the link below to view the newspaper article on the event. Included with the online article is a video of my acceptance speech.

I've stayed mostly silent about this because I honestly never expected to win. I'm also not a self-promoter.  I didn't take it seriously at first either, because I assumed myself to be the most unlikely candidate.  However, I had a change of heart when I became a semi-finalist.  I quickly realized that this would be a tremendous platform for me to use as an advocate for students with special needs.  The running motto I held to throughout the process was:

"This is for the students, not me.  Be yourself. Don't change a thing. Don't boast, but be confident.  Step out of your comfort zone and make things happen for these kids." 

It worked, and I'm extremely grateful and honored.  Students with special needs deserve to be recognized and included.  I'm proud to have this honor to do so. I've already received a huge outpouring of support and encouragement! Some doors have begun to open for myself and my students. That makes the whole process worth it.

Please share this video that I submitted.  I tried to leave myself out of it as much as possible so that the viewer can see what my students CAN do.  My class is just one representation of students with disabilities who have shining potential just like any other kid.

Also, my co-workers at GW Carver Elementary, Briana Edgerton and Rudy Rodriguez, won their categories: "Outstanding First Year Teacher" and "Outstanding Intermediate Teacher" respectively.

For our school to dominate this incredible honor is a true testament to how amazing our school is and the support we have not only from our Principal, Ms. Drysdale, but also from each other.  I am proud to represent Carver and Yuma School District One.

I have three outstanding paraprofessionals (teacher aides) that take on many responsibilities.  They're the ones that get all of the dirty work and allow me to teach and take care of academic needs.  They get very little recognition and are often overlooked.  As much as I am awarded, they should be as well.  Thank you Mrs. Martinez, Mrs. Ramirez, and Mrs. Ryan (and Mrs. Castanos from last year).  This honor is for you too!  

I wish to thank the following professionals and agencies:

Yuma County Rotary Clubs
Yuma Investment Group Wealth Management
Yuma School District One (especially including Exceptional Student Services)
GW Carver Elementary
Desert Mesa Elementary
Castle Dome Middle School
Arizona Western College
Northern Arizona University - PRISE Program
Sharing Down Syndrome Arizona

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