Teachables, Bristow’s own educational supply store, celebrated the winners of its Third Annual Best Teacher contest, this May, by awarding prizes to six outstanding local educators who were nominated and heralded by parents or coworkers.
Bristow Beat spoke with three of the educators when they picked up their prizes at Teachables in Bristow Center. Gifts bags included Teachables' gift cards, t-shirts and fun-themed teaching supplies.
The teachers' enthusiasm for education, children and engaging activities, made it clear they would put Teachables materials to good use in the classroom.
Melanie Courtmanch nominated third grade teacher Michelle Pivonka of Chris Yung Elementary School in Bristow and praised the fun activities she plans for her students.
“She goes out of her way to do fun and engaging activities for her classroom! I’m jealous of all her room transformations and the things that she provides for her kids to do out of her own money! She’s changing grade levels next year, and with a whole new curriculum, will need more supplies. She could really benefit from this!”
Pivonka said she loves relating to the students and seeing how much they’ve progressed over the year. As it is her seventh year at Chris Yung she has also been able to watch students grow. "You begin to see how far they’ve come.”
Next year she will be teaching fifth grade and she is ready for that new adventure. and perhaps teaching her former students once more.
Gainesville mom Adelle Settle praised Summer Haury, a second grade teacher at Buckland Mills Elementary School for creating a classroom environment that makes learning fun.
Haury, who loves camping, created a camping theme in her classroom to make it “an enjoyable, happy place to be.”
“Ms. Haury has SO much enthusiasm for her ‘little campers. The whole classroom is decorated in RVs, adorable outdoorsy decor. She puts so much energy into the assignments, personalized encouragement on graded work, and she’s incredibly supportive of her students. She communicates regularly and in beautiful weekly newsletters with parents. She just goes so far above and beyond the basics. We are incredibly grateful for her dedication and we feel how much she loves every one of her students,” wrote Settle.
Haury said she loves to create memorable moments for her students, remembering the magical moments from her elementary school years. “The kids are the best part of my job,” she said.
A parent praised Haylee Foor, a third grade teacher at Cedar Point Elementary School, for being a student advocate for her child.
“Ms. Foor is new to our school this year…She is a dedicated educator who tirelessly advocates for the best for each student in her class. She communicates with parents, keeps detailed records and engages students in FUN learning activities in their core content areas. Her energy, passion, and love are evident!”
Foor said she likes making an impact on her student.
She acknowledged the year has been “extra challenging." Her “Covid babies” were kindergarteners in 2020 when schools shut down, and as a result, they missed learning core fundamental skills in the classroom.
Foor is proud of them for making tremendous progress. “So many of my kids passed their end-of-the-year tests. The growth of this group is very impressive. They are very resilient.”
Foor values the time she spends with her students, and she hopes they know that. “My job is to make sure your child feels loved.”
She enjoys teaching students to be helpful members of the community and includes activities such as making Valentine’s cards for homeless children in the area.
Teachables owner Jennifer Powell said she organizes the Best Teacher Contest for Teacher Appreciation Week every year because teachers deserve the appreciation.
“As a teacher, I just remember it’s hard. It’s hard all year, and it’s very much a thankless job,” she said. “We don’t do much but I just want them to know that somebody thought about them.”
She encourages teachers, parents, and caretakers to visit Teachables for educational and fun supplies, books and toys. Teachables has a wide selection of end-of-the-year gifts for teachers. It also has materials to prevent learning loss over the summer.
The following are the comments people made about the other winners during the nomination process.
Sara Gorham, 4th grade, Bristow Run Elementary School, by Amanda Bushrod...
“She goes above and beyond her job to help her students. She fosters an environment for growth, confidence and increasing self-esteem. When you think of great teachers who change the lives of their students…this is the teacher!!!"
Lindsey Norton, 2nd grade, Buckland Mills Elementary School, by Jessie Lightfoot...
“For the first time in my daughter’s 3 years of school, she listened to my concerns and took actions immediately to help my daughter. She improved in just three months more than she did in her first 2 years because of her. I actually teared up when she echoed my concerns and mapped out a plan. She listens, cares, and takes action. That’s a true teacher, wearing a hero’s cape.”
Lucia Byer, 1st grade, Haymarket Elementary School, by Erin Ebeck.
“Lucia is a passionate, knowledgeable teacher who makes learning fun for her students. They are engaged in learning all day and make amazing academic progress throughout the year. She is able to differentiate in the moment to support students who are struggling and extend learning for students who have mastered the content. It is a privilege to work with her.”
Customers can visit Teachables and shop online at Teachablesnova.com.
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