MOLINE -- They are teachers who gently guide, encourage and support, shining quietly behind the success of their students. |
They are teachers who followed a calling into education, satisfying a passion and reaching out, going above and always beyond.
They were recognized for their talent, creative abilities and dedication to teaching Friday by The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus during the Master Teacher ceremony at the i wireless Center in Moline.
The dozen area educators recognized as Master Teacher award winners included three teachers from Moline-Coal Valley, five from Rock Island-Milan and one each from the Rockridge, Riverdale, Sherrard and Henry Stark Special Education Cooperative districts.
The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus publisher Gerald J. Taylor said the Master Teacher program was launched 22 years ago because the newspapers wanted to recognize the quality teachers who were essential to the quality schools in community.
Since then, a total of 342 educators have been recognized.
Moline High School principal Bill Burrus said the educators honored each year not only are great teachers, but also are the ones who always go the extra mile. "They have phenomenal talents, but they don't offer them only inside the classroom, but also before school, after school, on the weekends, in the community," he said.
"These teachers make a difference every day," he said.
Sherrard Junior/Senior High School math teacher Kathy Felt was nominated for the award by a former student. Another former student wrote a supporting letter, in which she learned he is becoming a math teacher because of the impact she had on his life.
She said the words of her former students touched her deeply. "We, as teachers, always hope we make a difference, but we never know if we do," she said.
Ms. Felt said she now knows she has. Because of the difference she made, her former student studying to be a teacher will in turn make a difference in the lives of his future students and so on. "It will continue to grow and grow and grow," she said.
"When you know you touched a life or a couple of lives, it is exponentially better," Ms. Felt said.
Laura Lambert, Moline High School special education teacher, said she was surprised and honored to learn she was named a Master Teacher. A teacher for 31 years, she said it is watching the students progress in class, toward goals, preparing for a caree, and excelling in life that she enjoys the most.
Those who nominated her for the award said she teaches her students self-respect and their success is her primary goal.
Jim Campbell, Riverdale High School chemistry and physics teacher, said students walk into his class with a schedule with the word "chemistry" on it, and the vast majority are scared.
By the end of the year, most of the students have converted their thinking, he said.
The 36-year teacher said the success of his students is his success, and he uses the words "gentle push" when describing about his teaching style. A former student, who wrote a letter as part of Mr. Campbell's nomination said he teaches students not to settle for anything but their very best.
Mr. Campbell said he will tell students he is proud of them, especially when they are willing to tackle the work head-on.
Jillian Jespersen, a Rock Island High School senior, wrote a supporting nomination letter for Val Matson, Washington Junior High School literature teacher.
Ms. Matson was Ms. Jespersen's seventh-grade literature teacher. She said her former teacher didn't let students slack. At the same time, "She was always really nice. She never got mad at anyone if their work wasn't done. She just encouraged students to keep trying," Ms. Jespersen said.
Washington Junior High School English teacher Nikki Melody said it is common for 10 to 15 students to be waiting outside Ms. Matson's classroom door before school starts, eager for her to arrive.
"There is a light she is able to turn on inside these kids," Ms. Melody said, adding most didn't enjoy literature before Ms. Matson's class. "She is definitely not your typical reading teacher," she said.
Each winner received a plaque and commemorative brass bell.
United Healthcare was the presenting sponsor.
The 2012 Master Teacher award winners are:
--Jim Campell, chemistry and physics teacher, Riverdale High School, Port Byron
--William Carlough, industrial technology and engineering teacher, Moline High School
--Kathy Felt, seventh and eighth grade math teacher, Sherrard Junior High School
--Debi Goslin, kindergarten to sixth grade English language learner teacher, Frances Willard Elementary School, Rock Island
--Mary Kelly, Henry Stark special education cooperative kindergarten to second grade teacher, Northside Elementary School, Geneseo
--Laura Lambert, special education, Moline High School
--Chris Lavin, third grade, Jane Addams Elementary School, Moline
--Val Matson, literature, Washington Junior High School, Rock Island
--Lisa Maxwell, sixth grade, Eugene Field Elementary, Rock Island
--Sue Miller, eighth-grade writing, Rockridge Junior High School, Taylor Ridge
--Nate Skahill, social studies, Alleman High School, Rock Island
--Anitra Whiting, first grade, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Milan
The Master Teacher program began in 1990 when the late Joe Versluis, a Rock Island teacher, and Chuck Dyson, former principal at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, approached the newspapers about honoring area teachers.
The first awards banquet, on March 21, 1991, honored 17 teachers from the Illinois Quad-Cities and Western Illinois. Mr. Versluis, who died in 1997, was honored posthumously at the 1998 awards.
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