Gold stars for the teachers

Darin Moriki
Posted

Four Golden teachers were recognized by the Golden Schools Foundation in May with inaugural Teacher Recognition Awards.

The winners in the first year of the program were Mary Ford-Doherty, a Pleasant View Elementary kindergarten teacher; Carl Berg, a Mitchell Elementary fourth-grade teacher; Cheryl O’Haire, a Shelton Elementary second-grade teacher; and Brian Van Voorhees, a Bell Middle School American history teacher.

“It’s an honor, of course, but there’s just so many people who do a great job with their kids,” Berg said. “It’s flattering, but honestly I think most people are trying very hard to do their jobs and connect. Somehow I just got lucky. I think part of the advantage is that I’ve been here a while, and I’ve been able to communicate and connect with the community and the kids.”

Each teacher received a $250 award to be spent for their schools and a recognition plaque during a ceremony held at their respective schools earlier this month.

“All these outstanding teachers have inspired students to take on new challenges and helped students achieve their full potential,” Greg Poulos, Golden Schools Foundation chairman, said in a press release. “They are enthusiastic about learning, motivational to their students and have the ability to recognize that each student learns differently.”

Suzanne Morrisette, a Golden Schools Foundation board member, who helped to kick start the recognition program, said the idea for the awards arose during a gathering of Golden school principals, teachers and students, at which some teachers said they would prefer recognition over pay increases.

“I thought it was a pretty big statement,” Morrisette said. “I don’t know if all teachers would agree, but they actually just said that to have recognition for a job well done is important to them.”

The award selection process began in April with nominations from community members, parents, fellow teachers and school administrators from Golden-area schools, including Kyffin, Mitchell, Pleasant View, Shelton, Ralston and Welchester elementary schools; Bell Middle School and Golden High School.

Morrisette said the Golden Schools Foundation received about 30 nominations that were reviewed by a committee charged with choosing winners based on 11 different criteria, including demonstrating a contagious enthusiasm for teaching and learning, inspiring all students to take on new challenges and recognize their full potential, and connecting learning to student interests and to their lives beyond the classroom.

She said the award money was generated through the city’s annual Golden Gala, which was hosted by the Golden School Foundation for the first time this year.

Morrisette said she would like to see the recognition program grow through increased funding and group membership.

“We’ve received really, really positive feedback from it,” she said. “I think the look on the teachers’ faces so far has been absolutely amazing.”

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