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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Reeds Ferry Elementary School teacher Kathleen Donegan and her class work on a math lesson Monday, April 16, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Reeds Ferry Elementary School teacher Kathleen Donegan and her class work on a math lesson Monday, April 16, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Reeds Ferry Elementary School teacher Kathleen Donegan and her class work on a math lesson Monday, April 16, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Reeds Ferry Elementary School teacher Kathleen Donegan and her class work on a math lesson Monday, April 16, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Reeds Ferry Elementary School teacher Kathleen Donegan and her class work on a math lesson Monday, April 16, 2012.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Six local educators up for state’s Teacher of the Year honor

For Jeffrey Caron, it was the source of his nomination as New Hampshire’s top educator that was most meaningful.

It was one of Caron’s students who nominated him for the 2013 Teacher of the Year program.

“Obviously, it’s flattering, so that’s nice,” said Caron, a seventh-grade science teacher at Merrimack Middle School. “I think it would be good publicity for the school, which they deserve.”

Caron was one of 17 New Hampshire teachers named Monday as being in the running for the award.

The state Department of Education announced the pool of candidates, each of whom will be recognized during a Teacher of the Year Nominee Ceremony on Thursday at the Red Blazer in Manchester.

In addition to Caron, the list of local nominees includes: Kathleen Donegan of Reeds Ferry Elementary School, Merrimack; Kathleen McIntyre of Clark-Wilkins Elementary School, Amherst; Michael Smith, Mascenic Regional High School, New Ipswich; Ryan O’Connor of Windham High School; and Donald Shirley of Windham Middle School.

“It has really put a perspective on my career and what I have done with students,” McIntyre said of the nomination Monday. “They’re representing, really, the whole teaching profession, and the long hours that teachers give to make the best for our students, so in actuality, I am representing my school and my staff.”

McIntyre has served as the library/media specialist for Amherst elementary schools for 35 years, she said, and this is the third time an Amherst principal has nominated her for the award.

Caron is also involved with the school play and seventh grade camping trips.

He was honored to be recognized by one of his students.

“It’s nice,” Caron said. “They don’t really bill it as a competition as much as they’re trying to pick somebody who would be a good representative of the profession out of the available people. But I can see where a student would remember me. … Some of those things might stick in their brain a little more than the day-to-day science.”

According to Lori Temple, the state’s Teacher of the Year coordinator, 17 nominees completed the written application, containing biographical and professional information, essays including personal teaching philosophies and issues facing education, and letters of endorsement.

Teachers may be nominated for the award or apply themselves, and not all teachers who are nominated choose to accept them, Temple said.

In about a week, the selection committee, a group of state education officials, the former Teacher of the Year and a representative of Hannaford Supermarkets, which co-sponsors the honors program, will narrow the list to about a half-dozen semifinalists, Temple said.

The committee then visits semifinalists’ schools, observing the teachers in class, and interviewing school personnel, community members, parents and students, as well as the semifinalists themselves.

This summer, a smaller group of finalists will present their professional portfolios to the committee and give a speech on education to determine the ultimate Teacher of the Year, which will be announced this fall.

New Hampshire’s 2012 recipient was Bethany Bernasconi, a science teacher at Windham High School.

McIntyre puts in 60-hour weeks teaching library skills and literature to preschoolers through fourth-graders, on top of spearheading Amherst’s Young Inventors Program, leading community outreach initiatives and organizing the elementary schools’ Writing Festival.

She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Putting more than three decades into educating Amherst youths has allowed McIntyre to influence hundreds of children spanning multiple generations.

“One of the nice things is I get to work with all of the children in the school because everyone comes through my door,” McIntyre said.

“I have a chance to have some impact, and you never quite know what that impact will be.”

And for the one who takes home the prestigious Teacher of the Year title, the honor has its own positive impacts on educators.

The winner attends the National Teacher of the Year Announcement Ceremonies in Washington, D.C., as well as a Teacher of the Year Conference in Dallas, receives a $3,000 classroom grant from Hannaford Supermarkets, and gets $17,000 in technology from the SMARTer Kids Foundation, Temple said.

They also have the opportunity to attend NASA space camp.

The National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with the University of Phoenix Foundation and People to People Ambassador Programs.

Finalists and semifinalists for the state honor win $2,000 and $1,000 Hannaford grants respectively, Temple said.

On Thursday, nominees will present their work and that of their students in a symposium-style setting, and get to mix and mingle, Temple said.

The ceremony is not part of the competition, Temple said, but has been part of the program’s process since 2006.

For the complete list of nominees or to learn more about the honor program, visit www.education.nh.gov/recognition/toy.htm.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).