Theresa Vitarelli, Claxton's Teacher of the Year
Every year Guilford County Schools participates in the prestigious awards program which selects North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year. Guilford County School district follows North Carolina Department of Public Instruction selection guidelines for selecting the Teacher of the Year. From each school’s Teacher of the Year nominee, a committee will select a countywide winner and submit the individual’s name for competition at the state level.
This year we are proud to announce that Theresa Vitarelli, a kindergarten teacher has been selected as Claxton’s Teacher of the Year for 2011-2012. The following is a short biography written by Mrs. Vitarelli.
I have come to realize through the years that I have been truly blessed to have such a wonderful childhood. I was always surrounded by my loving family. My family was very involved in our church and in the schools that my siblings and I attended. My parents were always volunteering and helping to organize events. I came to respect and appreciate my teachers because of the values I learned to embrace as a child. My most influential role models include my mother, grandmother, an uncle and a former teacher.
I know that before I was born, my maternal grandmother actually taught Sunday School in her basement while their new church was being built. The blackboard that she hung more than 70 years ago remains in place down there as a reminder of her love and dedication to young people. I believe that as soon as I was tall enough to reach that board with a piece of chalk, I was “hooked”! I remember playing school down there all of the time. My grandmother loved to “teach” us songs and rhymes. I would model her by sitting my brother, sister, and cousins down in front of that blackboard while I held class! I’d always dreamed of having my very own class one day.
Many of my relatives were either teachers or volunteer teachers in our church. My mother taught nursing in the local hospital. She was well renowned by her colleagues and thoroughly enjoyed teaching with a passion. I wanted to feel that same way. I wanted to feel that satisfaction she spoke of when she helped someone learn something meaningful. I also had an uncle who was a high school teacher, coach, and principal. He was also loved and respected for his dedication to the teaching profession. His stories of the classroom intrigued me. His students reached out to him long after he retired. “Once a teacher, always a teacher,” he would say. “They always come back for more!”
My favorite teacher was Mrs. Debbie Johnson. She was my fourth grade teacher, and it was her first year of teaching. She was, of course, very enthusiastic and energetic. She brought our subjects to life through hands-on activities. We did cooperative learning before it was even a learning style! And, that was it! I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. And now I knew the kind of teacher that I would strive to be.
These people that I have described have led me to the place I am in today. They filled me with the confidence and desire to reach inside myself and give from within to my own students. It is this desire that I bring to the classroom every day.
I feel that my greatest contributions in education are a combination of the loving environment that I create in which all of my students feel important and the creativity that I bring to the classroom that entices them to draw closer and want to come to school and learn. My students enter our classroom with an extra skip in their walk! From the first day of school on, they are engaged in activities that begin as soon as they arrive! Their school day goes on to include many hands-on activities that I have created to incorporate the diverse learning styles that dwell within our room. I believe that the confidence that grows within each child is the fuel that keeps my creative juices flowing! It is this confidence that I believe to be my greatest accomplishment. With this, my classroom takes on a definite personality. My students learn to work cooperatively. They model positive behaviors throughout the day as they grow to respect and recognize each other’s accomplishments. I believe they learn more than the three R’s in my classroom. I believe they grow to be confident, caring youngsters that want to come back for more!
T. Owens, Claxton's Teacher Assistant of the Year
Congratulations to Theresa Owens for being voted by Claxton staff as Teacher Assistant of the Year! We are proud to have her representing our Teacher Assistants this year as an outstanding paraprofessional. Here is a tribute from her grade level teachers.
Theresa Owens is the 2010-2011 Teacher Assistant of the Year. For those of us who have the pleasure of working with her, she is the Teacher Assistant of the Millennium.
Theresa is incredibly generous with her time and selfless in the pursuit of excellence for all students. She works above and beyond what is asked, contributing both extra time and money to assist students and staff.
In addition to working with Exceptional Children, Ms. Owens is also a First Responder. A First Responder has been trained in First Aid, CPR and using the defibrillator. She is one of the first persons called when there is a need for treatment. Her patience, caring and understanding aid her in this part of the job. Her positive attitude, flexibility, organizational skills and cooperative nature helps all of us stand up and cheer for T. Owens!