Excellence In Education awards: Living Our Guiding Principles award winners for October and November

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The Collaborative for Educational Services is pleased to announce the October and November winners of our regional Excellence in Education: Living our Guiding Principles Award!  We honor those educators across the DYS workforce who embody one or more of the Guiding Principles including: College, Career, and Civic Readiness; Culture and Purpose; and Social Justice and Equity, central to the organization’s mission to improve the academic and life outcomes for the youth they serve.

October 2022

The Metro Excellence in Education winner for October, 2022 is Samia Taste-Peterson.

Samia began working for CES/DYS in the summer of 2021. Samia has created an environment that promotes learning and student voice. An expert with blended learning, her students can be found on any given day engaged in activities in Google Classroom and beyond, that embrace their personal, social, and cultural identities. She is a leader in the EYF curriculum, working hard to have her students feel included and validated.  

Samia was nominated for the award by her DYS colleagues on MTU, who shared that  Samia is extremely patient, compassionate, creative, and approachable in her work with our youth. She makes a consistent effort to plan fun classes that engage our residents.Samia is also very involved in the program as a whole, ensuring  communication with residential, clinical, and medical teams. She is an asset to MTU and appreciated more than she knows! Thank you, Samia!”

Congratulations, Samia, for living our Guiding Principle of Culture & Purpose!

Melanie Kornacki and Kim Mook are the West Excellence in Education-Living our Guiding Principles award winners for October.

SEIS Instructional Coach Melanie Kornacki was nominated by her fellow educators for her work around Culture and Purpose. Educators noted that  “Melanie’s visits in programs bring joy to the teachers, staff, and students.” Also, “She reaches out to all youth to get to know them and checks in on how they are. She exudes compassion and is focused on setting high standards for all”.

Visual Arts teacher Kim Mook. Kim was nominated by her fellow educators as well. The teachers said this about Kim: “Kim is able to build a strong rapport with students, and “Kim encourages them to explore their sense of creativity and creates an environment where students are safe to take risks.” Also said was from a student that “Kim makes me want to do Art for the first time ever!”.

Congratulations to Kim and Melanie for their great work in living and exemplifying our guiding principles! 

Natalie Grondin, Art Teacher for the Central Region is the recipient of the Excellence in Education: Living our Guiding Principles Award for the month of October.  

Natalie’s nomination highlighted her contributions and excellence in culture and purpose – youth learn in classrooms where joy, creativity, and compassion are evident; their voices are valued and identities are affirmed; and dignity, safety, and respect is fostered by all. — Youth experience programming that acknowledges and validates their personal narratives while bringing possible and previously unimagined futures (personal, professional, and social) into their view. 

Natalie has a passion for teaching! She accepts feedback and ideas from her peers and doesn’t hesitate to incorporate them into her lessons. She understands her students and uses PYD to meet their learning needs. As an ELA teacher, she was able to successfully help students become stronger writers and readers. The students were very proud of their accomplishments! As an Art teacher, she enthusiastically brings out the creative talent in our youth and they look forward to her classes! Natalie knows how to effectively engage her students and personalize their learning to enhance their learning.

Congrats Natalie and thank you for embracing our guiding principals day in and out.

Southeast – Please join us in congratulating Rochelle Victor as the October 2022 recipient of the Living Our Guiding Principles Award!  

Teaching Coordinator John Cady believes Rochelle excels in the Principle of Culture and Purpose: “I wish to nominate Rochelle Victor for this honor. While I have only worked with her a short time, I have witnessed her bring an energy and commitment to building rapport with our students that is sure to impact the culture of our program (specifically our school) in a truly positive way. It’s clear how determined she is to get her students invested and excited about learning and bettering themselves. She has asked me to order owl pellets for a science lesson (which is something our students probably would only be exposed to on field trips to nature reserves and such). To assist them in their Unsung Break Free project, she has brought in an assortment of her string instruments (including an acoustic guitar, a violin, and a ukulele). Her students had fun and learned at the same time. This is the level of energy and investment I love seeing in both a teacher and her students. This is the culture I strive for. Her work is definitely purpose-driven. I admire it.” 

Cassi Menard had previously nominated Rochelle in the Principle of College, Career, and Civic Readiness and shared that, “Rochelle brings energy, enthusiasm, and compassion into a very difficult teaching environment. She integrates real-world, hands-on experiences to her classroom to keep students engaged. She enforces high expectations for all students and pushes each to persevere through challenging material and gain confidence in themselves as learners.”

Congratulations Rochelle! 

Congratulations to Annie Vlack and Bart Walker as the Northeast October winners of the Excellence in Education awards!

Annie Vlack is the Teaching Coordinator at N.F.I. Lakeside Detention and was nominated by her colleagues, who praised Annie for her excellence in the Guiding Principle of Culture and Purpose: “Annie has shown me the ropes of the Lakeside culture. Her compassion and calm towards our students is genuine and her presence in and of itself sets a calm learning atmosphere.” 

Congratulations, Annie, for living our Guiding Principles!

Bart Walker is the History and ELA teacher at Northeast Reception Program (NERP) and was nominated by his colleagues, who praised Bart for his accomplishments in all three pillars of our Guiding Principles: “Bart exemplifies all of the Guiding Principles and it is doing a disservice to his exemplary teaching to limit it only to one. Bart’s focus is on the student and bringing out the student’s highest and greatest self… a lesson I believe that every educator can learn from. If every educator could emulate the perspectives that Bart brings to his classroom every day, our system would begin anew and serve our students in a much more purposeful and critical way – to ensure that our students leave our care and likewise, begin anew. ”

Congratulations, Bart, for living all of our Guiding Principles!

November 2022

Karen Wade, SEIS Teacher at Central’s  Leahy Detention and Sharp Transition, is the recipient of the Excellence in Education: Living our Guiding Principles Award for the Central Region for the month of November.  

Karen’s multiple nominations highlighted her contributions and excellence in social justice and equity as well as culture and purpose! 

Karen is a valued team member that contributes  to the ELA and Math classroom at Sharp and Leahy by engaging with students and teachers to create excellent learning experiences for students. She often brings insights to better address student needs and create personalized learning for students in the two programs.

Karen is always willing to help the students in the classroom.  She brings a sense of joy and calm that all students appreciate.  She is incredibly helpful in all subject areas, especially in math class where the students always go to her for help.  Karen is a wonderful addition to the Leahy team and always looks out for the students needs and accommodations.

Karen is the epitome of compassion in the classroom. She has always had the student in the forefront of her focus and always makes sure that every student she works with feels heard and understood. It is refreshing to see a professional such as Karen be part of our Central team. She has added tremendously to positive culture at both the Leahy and Sharp programs. She is more than deserving of the Excellence in Education recognition and it has been an honor to be able to teach alongside her. 

Congrats Karen and thank you for embracing our guiding principals day in and out.

Congratulations to BIll Laforme, Kennedy ELA & History teacher, as our Northeast Excellence in Education, Living our Guiding Principles award winner for November.  

Bill’s nomination highlighted his contributions and excellence in Culture and Purpose and College as well as Career, and Civic Readiness. Please see what BIll’s colleagues had to say about him:

Bill has been a strong supporter of the education assessment process. He is always willing to take time to discuss student effort, relations and helpful instruction strategies. BIll is also very responsive in providing timely input to a students Individual Learning Plan through thoughtful completion of the assessment student – teacher observation google form.

Our Bill is the real “Bill the Science Guy!” In a quiet and unassuming way Mr. Laforme blends high intelligence, humility and creativity in the classroom to engage and inspire our students. He’s always brewing some creative way to make students connect with learning. It may be exposing students to food from around the world, a science expedition to view and study the night sky, or an experiment with magnetic fields. The result of these kinds of illuminating learning adventures is “engaged and enthusiastic students!” Students who have not attended school for years commend Bill for turning them on to learning. This kind of gem is what we have at CES! It is so good to celebrate dedicated professionals who are yielding wonderful results like this.

Congrats Bill and thank you for embracing our guiding principals day in and out!                     

Congratulations to Mark Daly, Southeast Education Assessment Coordinator, as the Southeast’s November award recipient. 

Mark was nominated by Literacy Specialist Melanie Attardo in the principle of Culture and Purpose.  Melanie had this to say about her colleague:

Mark has played a pivotal role across all programs who have assessment students.  Mark has also stepped up to help assist TC’s and our region with the rollout of MAP within the guidelines/timeframe.  He  consistently seeks to assist teachers, TC’s, and all Specialists where needed, including building rapport with assessment students in order to assist with helping their personal educational goals (and beyond) while in treatment within DYS.  Most recently, a newer TC had a specific student who was losing some motivation.  This TC went to Mark, knowing Mark had a strong rapport with this student.  Mark continually validates and acknowledges the students educational needs, while helping the students strive for goals that may be unimagined previously. Mark is always professional and personal with the students, helping them to see their long-term goals.  Mark continually supports all teachers, like the quiet assistant, wherever needed.  I have worked side-by-side with Mark for 18 years now and his calm, cool, and collected approach all these years and his strong rapport with all components of programming – clinical, staff, and education, has never waivered.  

Congratulations Mark!

The Western Region’s Excellence in Education award winner for November 2022 is Hannah Brackley.

 Hannah is the Math and Science Teacher at RFK Girls in South Hadley, and was  nominated by several of her co-workers for her outstanding work with the Guiding Principle of College, Career and Civic Readiness. One co-worker wrote that Hannah “goes above and beyond to help her students with all their individual needs and goals” and “that her classroom is an environment that encourages students to strive for their highest potential“! Another peer wrote of Hannah that ” Hannah does an exemplary job teaching students critical thinking skills, that they then apply to problem solving and transfer those skills to real life situations.” To that end, Hannah led this month’s BreakFree initiative- Unconstruct at RFK, where the students finished in 3rd place in the country! Amazing work Hannah and congratulations! 

Congratulations to Jacob Augenstern as the Metro Excellence in Education winner for November 2022.

Working on Dorchester Secure Detention, Jacob joined the education team in September.  We are thrilled to have him teaching our students. Jacob’s nomination highlighted his contributions and excellence in Social Justice and Equity.  

Please see below for what some of Jacob’s colleagues had to say about him:

“He has been a very thoughtful and reflective teacher during his first months at DYS. He has worked incredibly hard to learn about his students and respond to their interests and feedback. He has also spent a lot of time developing a very interesting unit on the Haitian Revolution which hits all of his students’ needs while also being grounded in good historical research and a strong sense of justice.” 

“Since his arrival, Jacob has worked to cultivate strong relationships with his students. These relationships have helped him encourage participation and in depth conversations about the history they are studying and how it reverberates in the present.”

Congratulations, Jacob for living our Guiding Principle of Social Justice & Equity!

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