Thank you so much Governor Shumlin
It is truly an honor to stand here with all of you to celebrate education in Vermont.
I would like to extend gratitude to Secretary Holcombe and the State Board of Education for being in Montpelier today and striving to ensure the best educational opportunities for all learners in Vermont. I also feel appreciation toward the former Teachers and Principals of the Year who have made this process challenging and insightful. Thank you also to Rebecca Plude, coordinator of the State Teacher of the Year program.
I’m excited to join such a distinguished group of educators who represent the best that the State of Vermont has to offer. I feel humbled to represent teachers from Vermont who come to work each day, in schools like Union Elementary school; to challenge, inspire and motivate students to reach their best potential. Both Ms. Mahar and Mr. Rand exemplify this degree of excellence in their teaching. I feel privileged to be honored with them today.
I am proud to represent the teachers of Montpelier public Schools and the teachers of Vermont. We are excited, enthusiastic, imperfect and compassionate professionals. We are learners, explorers and adventurers. Our profession is exciting, dynamic and fluid.
I feel so very fortunate to be in this profession which allows collaboration on a daily basis. I am grateful to work here at Union School, with a faculty and staff dedicated to exploring the best and most engaging opportunities for all of our learners. Throughout my career, I have enjoyed colleagues who have worked together to develop engaging lessons, both indoors and out, in order to help students reach their best potential. I have had the privilege to learn from a myriad of educators as we studied, learned, and practiced our art together. Today I ask each one of you to think about a teacher that has had an impact on you. Someone who has inspired you, challenged you, and maybe even pushed you to become your best self. Let’s take 10 seconds to just think about that teacher. Let’s be quiet for just 10 seconds, and think about a teacher who had an impact on our lives. I’ll keep the time.
Some of you may have been thinking about your teachers right here in this room. Some of you may have recalled a person who showed you love, or trust, or encouraged you to pursue a passion. Some of you may have remembered a teacher that is no longer here. I imagine, you all felt a sense of belonging, as you recalled an impactful teacher in your life. Your teacher created a safe space for you to learn. Your teacher most likely created a community of learners. Your teacher may have encouraged you to learn together, and may have even helped you to create habits of learning. Your teacher struck a spark within you, that ignited your passion.
My goal as a teacher has been to ignite that passion in learners, and to see that passion shine brightly. I strive to guide students on a path of self-discovery as they create meaning and make connections. I encourage students to use a variety of strategies discover and inquire in order to make sense of the world around them. Connecting with nature, and their community, allows learners to develop a sense of place.
As I was thinking about the factors that contributed to being here in front of you today, I realized that it would be challenging to thank each and every person who has had a profound impact on my teaching career. So many of you have inspired, influenced, supported and prepared me for this profession. I extend heartfelt thanks to all whose paths I have crossed. Thank you for your dedication to students and learning.
I would like to thank my parents, who are here today. My mom’s wisest teaching advice was to make sure to show extra kindness to those who are extra difficult. I have carried those words with me since my first years of teaching. My dad instilled the love of inquiry as a tool for learning, keeping learning fun and exciting as we strive to develop and answer questions. I have also carried this sense of wonder with me throughout my career.
I would also like to thank my immediate family: Barry, Hannah and Amy Koch. This amazing trio has continually supported me. They know about the crazy late August set up weeks, Sunday night lesson planning and report card weekends. They understand the frustrations and joys of classroom life. They cook, they listen, and they support me, so I can support my students. I extend my heartfelt thanks.
Most of all, I would like to thank the students. It is because of you, that we are here. It is because of you, that we smile, lose sleep, laugh and pull out our hair. You inspire us. You are the future.
As Helen Keller said "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
I accept this honor, together with the teachers at Union School, and all of the teachers in Vermont.
Together we can do so much.
Each and every school year, on the first and last days of school, I sing this song with my students.
Please join us now, as we sing “ The More We Get Together”