Celebrating 185 Terrific Teachers!

teacher and students

To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week (celebrated the first full week in May each year), I decided to save up my allowance and recognize some teachers.

I sent an email out to the Gifted Guru Insiders (you can become one here), asking for people to nominate a teacher they thought would appreciate a little recognition.

Those who clicked the link were taken to a Google form where they were asked why they felt that teacher deserved to be celebrated.

I decided to pick three teachers from the submissions, and each of them would receive:

It was over $300 in prizes.

Over 185 Submissions Came In

There were just over 185 submissions, and I read every single one. In tears.

Quickly, it became clear I could not just choose the “best” three because there were too many amazing teachers. How could you choose? I mean, just read them. I also realized I knew some of the submitters, and I wanted to be sure to be fair.

So, I decided to use a random number generator to choose. Three teachers were selected. They were:

  • Sam Stitcher, a computer science teacher from New Mexico submitted by Bonnie M.
  • Angie D., a pre-calculus and AP Calculus teacher from Bellevue, Nebraska submitted by Molly W.
  • Lori L., a first-grade teacher from Montrose, Colorado submitted by Danielle K.

This is Angie outside the AP Calculus testing site cheering on her students.

female teacher with calculus signs

I’ve never met any of these teachers, but I am honored to share their profession.

Let’s Read about Great Teachers

I thought you might like to celebrate these great teachers, too. It’s a long list, but I’ve got another surprise for four more of them at the end, so stay with me.

If you’re a teacher, reading these will remind you why you became a teacher.

Here are the submissions answering the question, “Why do you feel this teacher deserves to be recognized?” (I’ve taken out last names for privacy because I don’t have their permission.)

She is just a wonderful teacher and person…

  • Because she’s the best (per my 4th grader). Also, she teaches biology, which is interesting & complicated (per my 4th grader)
  • She deserves so much for all the work she does for our GT kids. She has taught for 30 years and taught GT for 21. She is wonderful.
  • She is just a wonderful teacher and person, well deserving of everything and she would be so surprised.
  • Staci has been the perfect balance while co-teaching our virtual gifted learners this school year. She jumps on board with my crazy last-minute ideas (still on a middle of the night nursing schedule with a toddler), provides feedback to my students, and isn’t afraid to abandon a lesson to take a turn on students’ interest.
  • Staci’s motto is “Kids FIRST!” And, she sticks to this for all students… not just identified gifted learners she services! She provides enrichment activities for all learners in our district. I’m truly grateful to be a colleague!
  • She has taught two of my own gifted children and they were challenged, loved, and encouraged by her.
  • She understands each of her students and their needs so well!
female teacher in front of class

I cannot imagine a teacher who loves her students more unconditionally…

  • Josh always tries the new lessons and extensions I create for him. Josh shares all his new learning with his teammates so the learning goes on and on!
  • I cannot imagine a teacher who loves her students unconditionally than Hayley F. I went back to school to become a teacher, and I did my student teaching with Mrs. F. She is so loving, caring, and focused on her goal of helping her students learn to love school. Her students are the luckiest!
  • No one deserves a treat more than her. I’m sure all of her colleagues would agree. She’s beyond deserving.
  • Heather has boundless energy and looks for opportunities to support gifted learners both locally and at the state level. As a soon to be new gifted coordinator, Heather has lot of ideas, but limited funding. The gift certificates or books will help her to build her resources. You didn’t ask, but her name is Heather Savory.
  • She worked really hard this year and did a great job with the kids remotely or hybrid.
  • Meghan is so good at eliciting deep discussion out of her second grade students. She commits extra time to developing virtual resources for our students. She has remained positive and excited about teaching throughout this crazy year.
  • Shelby is an amazing teacher that works hard to juggle her professional life and her two toddlers at home. She has taught me so much about meeting the needs of my gifted learners and how to really teach reading in a methodical way. I appreciate the collaboration time we have because there is always valuable feedback and learning going on. That information directly goes to enriching our kids’ daily lives.
  • She always goes above and beyond for her students, finding new and exciting ways to integrate high levels of rigorous instruction with enthusiastically fun activities. She also goes above and beyond to help colleagues with educational and personal needs.

She rarely gets the recognition she deserves…

  • She is an amazing colleague who rarely gets the recognition she deserves for being one of the best teachers I have ever had the pleasure to know and work with in my 20-year career.
  • Becky is works so hard for her special needs kids. She works beyond the school hours for Special Olympics, Special needs, her district, I can go on!
  • She has word tirelessly for 40 years in education with 25+ in Sped. She has the biggest heart for her kids and her community. She is well deserving of all surprises. She would be so surprised because she would not expect it.
  • She is a tireless advocate for students, she shares her work with others in our region, and she gets very little recognition or support
  • Beth B. is an amazing colleague! She is always positive and works hard for kids.
  • Deb F. really tries to individualize gifted students education, and she lets them pick their own project each nine weeks.
  • She did her best this year in spite of being new to the school and dealing with remote and hybrid this year.
  • Christie travels to all 12 districts at least once per month to serve our gifted students doing pull out instruction, whole class instruction, assistance with identification of students, one-on-one testing, and any other assistance asked for and provided at the school-district level for gifted and talent pool students.
  • On top of everything listed above, Christie has created and led online programming in all subjects, across any requested grade level for our gifted students. In rural areas, this has provided new opportunities to combine students across districts and combine like-minded students together. It has also helped provide affective support, particularly for our secondary students. She is simply amazing at her job and doesn’t hesitate to get to the student level, hands-on and engaged.
teachers sharing with students at table

She goes above and beyond everyday…

  • She did a phenomenal job this year considering the unusual circumstances.
  • My friend, Kimberly S., is a phenomenal teacher who works so hard to be the best teacher for her students. She is the kind of teacher that I aspire to be. She has done such a good job during hybrid learning. As a parent and Gifted teacher, I can see that she is very open to learning new things and I think this would be great for her.
  • She’s been wonderful for my daughter this year.
  • She is so excited about having a student tested for gifted on her recommendation. The student has been identified as gifted and she is going above and beyond to help me plan for gifted support.
  • She goes above and beyond every single day and makes her students and their learning her priority. Her love and respect for her students is evident and drives her instruction.
  • Her instruction is so strong and her student growth is amazing, both academically and socially/emotionally.
  • She is hands down one of the most amazing teachers I have ever encountered. She has made such a difference in the lives of so many students. She is the perfect “gifted” teacher, and she doesn’t even know it. We love her!
  • They have gone above and beyond this year to give students facts and teach them to discuss hard topics in a respectful way. They deserve a little recognition for the demanding work they have endured; teaching a wide range of topics and students and always keeping the lessons interesting and the students engaged!
  • Mary C. is an amazing AIG teacher in our district. She works so hard to seek out students for the program and really pushes their thinking. She is amazing!
teacher with students

Because I know he’s underappreciated…

  • Because I know he’s underappreciated. He would thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the free gift!
  • Because she has compassion for her students and she makes a positive difference in their lives every day!
  • This last year has been extremely difficult due to COVID and she has persevered through many hardships during this time. But she was (and is) always there for her students and always thinking of how to provide the best opportunities for them.
  • She gives so much to her students and she has been through her brother and dad passing away, and finding she has other health conditions.
  • Amy B. is very selfless- she puts everyone else first.
  • He constantly pushes kids to embrace who they are and learn to be the best version of themselves. He is a bright spot in a dark year to the students he teaches.
teacher talking with students

She is a bright light…

  • Sue C. is a boss. She has been all three of my children’s HS ELP (gifted) teacher as well as their AP World teacher. She always had specific and timely feedback for all of their DBQ practices and AP exam preparation. She is at least 75% responsible for motivating my kids to do well in HS. She also understands how to work with my gifted (and intense) kids. They love her, and so do I.
  • Sue C. is my kids’ school teacher-mom. This fall when my daughter was struggling with so many things, both pandemic and non-pandemic-related, I reached out to Sue. She was able to get my daughter to open up without knowing that I asked for help (which my daughter would have HATED). Sue knows instinctively how to work with social/emotionally fragile kids without being threatening.
  • She is a bright light in everyone’s day- both the students and teachers.
  • Mrs. C. has devoted her life to teaching- Her son and daughter-in-law are also teachers.
  • She is amazing. Very in tuned with the needs of her students AND makes time to assist in various projects on our campus
  • She has dedicated her life to teaching with dignity and kindness.
  • She works incredibly hard to create engaging content, and makes connections with students that are so inspiring.
teacher working with student
Teacher helping young boy with writing lesson

He is the best teacher I have ever seen…

  • I have learned so much from her!
  • I have been teaching for 9 years and he is the best teacher I’ve seen. His Enthusiasm, Character, Humor and hard work kept kids going this year.
  • She is awesome! She is central player in everything we do to serve our gifted students throughout our district. She can whip up a virtual night family engagement piece or a Jamboard on creativity for our students at a moment’s notice. All this whilst traveling to four different schools. This lady deserves a wonderful surprise!
  • She’s the whole package as far as teachers are concerned and has the best interest of all children at heart, but especially our gifted kiddos.
  • Even with all I shared above, she has organized the art supplies and volunteered to co-teach with me last year. She is an inspiration!
  • She’s been the best mentor, co-worker, and friend! She’s been in gifted ed. forever and switching to teacher-librarian next year. She will be a FANTASTIC resource to the students and would be so deserving of these gifts to send her off into this new roll. She will now be able to impact the WHOLE school as a teacher librarian. The students are SO very fortunate!
black male teacher with students

She is an amazing role model…

  • Laura L. was a new teacher with us this year. She had well over 70 students at the beginning of the year with many of them being gifted students. She worked very hard to make sure she was reaching all her students at their individual level. Laura created wonderful projects, enriching and accelerating her students in all subjects. She worked with her high achieving math students to provide them instruction on standards for the next grade level. She worked to prepare them for Advance Grade level tests. She created wonderful literature circles that allowed her students to have wonderful discussions about the literature they were reading. She’s an excellent teacher!
  • This has been Kelly’s first year in teaching again, and first year in GT. She uses ALL the resources I share with her! Kelly has been patient and strong with her new students and challenges!
  • During the past pandemic year, Erin has been challenged with a cluster of gifted students, whom she never met. She allowed me as the TAG teacher to co-teach and in the process has developed a curiosity and ownership of how to challenge our high flyers.
  • Erin has inquired about how to challenge these gifted students and has developed over the year an understanding of how diverse gifted students are and the need to educate them at their learning levels
  • Wendy always is so creative in how she plans lessons and projects for her students. This year has been particularly challenging with remote learning, but she continues to be dedicated to her students and their success.
  • She is an amazing role model in my daughter’s life and has made this trying school year fun and full of learning!
  • Teachers are not recognized enough. She is hard worker and more than deserving of a little surprise!
muslim female teacher with class

Our gifted kids hit the jackpot…

  • Courtney just had a baby and is working hard to be a great mom and teacher! She deserves everything after having a crazy year and for always coming up with creative, engaging lessons.
  • She is the leader of our group of specialists and does so much and goes above and beyond for all of us.
  • She adjusts to change on a moments notice and has a true passion for gifted education.
  • Our gifted kids hit the jackpot when they got Libby!! She goes above and beyond advocating for their needs. From field trips to testing, she does it all! I am so thankful to have her as my gifted mentor and would love it if she could be surprised!
  • Libby is the #1 gifted champion in our district! She works hard and deserves all the surprises she can get! 😁
  • Leigh L. is phenomenal at building relationships with students. She sees our gifted kids and is always willing to work with me to meet their needs in her gen ed classroom.
  • She has had a rough year with breaking her arm and being out for 3 months. She still has not regained function of her hand due to radial nerve palsy.
  • She is an excellent teacher!
  • She goes above and beyond for her students. She builds positive relationships with all kids regardless of their difficulties. Parents and kids love her. Even when students have moved to the next grade they will come to her with snacks and open her door every morning. She is helpful to other educators and always shares her ideas. She makes teaching look easy and loves doing it!
  • She deserves some of the joy she always gives to others.
  • She is hard working and dedicated to teaching her students.
  • After this past school year, Vicky could really have her spirits lifted in this positive manner.
teacher with students

She gives so much to her students…

  • She is a great resource to bounce ideas off of anytime.
  • She is both real and positive when it comes to everyday challenges.
  • Sue J. is someone who I look up to and have learned so much from. She is selfless and has the biggest heart!
  • Sue deserves this recognition. She is a rock star!
  • Mrs. G. teaches from her heart! She works hard, day and night, plan great lessons and bakes and cooks goodies to feed her class!
  • She gives so much to her students.
  • She is so creative using her time to make new and exciting lessons for her kids. Her costumes are the best!!!!
  • She has so much compassion and is just a phenomenal human being. She simply does not give up on kids. She holds them accountable and works diligently to help them see their strengths. She also makes rigorous mathematics accessible and fun (!!). She inspires colleagues and students alike and I am so amazed by her.
  • She spends a LLOT of her own $$ making engaging digital lessons.
  • She’s a great team player.
  • Sarah works so hard for her students. She goes above and beyond to make sure their needs are being met.
  • She had a baby and teaches 6th graders in the hardest year ever for teachers. Enough said!
  • She works hard to enrich the education of her students.
  • She has worked inside and outside of the classroom with my highly gifted 3rd grade son who struggles in math. She has been able to pinpoint the root of his struggle and address it several different ways, with the end result being major improvements in his calculation abilities and speed…not to mention his confidence and enjoyment in math work!
teacher at desk

She is the hardest working person on the face of the Earth

  • Stephanie works closely with teachers to ensure that all of her students receive appropriate educational materials.
  • Ashley is one of the AIG teachers I support as the Elementary AIG Coodinator, and I know how much hard work she puts in and how much she loves learning about her gifted students and best practices for them. I think she would be very deserving of this wonderfully generous surprise.
  • Becky is the hardest working person on the face of this earth. She loves her students fiercely and would move heaven and earth to make sure they all feel welcomed, accepted, loved, and heard. Becky is always doing nice things for other people. I would love for her to receive a nice surprise.
  • Katie goes above and beyond serving students whether they are officially on her roster or not. She creates a safe place in her classroom where students know that they are accepted and cared for. Katie is young and energetic and bring such great enthusiasm and laughs to our school. It would be extra fun to see her surprised.
  • She is a newly hired teacher and would be thrilled to get the gifts t0 jumpstart her career!
  • She is an amazingly talented teacher with TONS of experience and has had a rough year in which her leadership abilities have not been recognized (basically squelched) on top of everything COVID we have been dealing with. She needs a major “pick-me-up” or I am afraid she may be searching careers “other than teaching” soon!!!
  • Sarah has been going through some very difficult medical problems this year. She was recently diagnosed with a rare disease that is life-threatening. Sarah has dealt with all of this so well, but pandemic schooling and parenting has really taken a toll on her. She is an incredible teacher and mom. I would love to spoil her!!
teacher with student

He is so kind and patient…

  • Ms. G. spends so much time creating frames, review games, and so much more for her students. She’s also a great PLC member who’s always willing to share and inspire the rest of us. I strive to be as organized as her!
  • Being a first-year teacher myself, I would not have survived this year without her! I’ve learned so much from her! Everything she does is for the kids and their best interest.
  • She is an incredible teacher who goes above and beyond to push even her deepest thinkers. She incorporates PBL, real world application, depth and complexity, etc. etc., and she creates JOY in her classroom. Her students absolutely love her and love learning.
  • My autistic child is in Dr Stichter’s class. He is so kind and patient with her. He goes above and beyond to help her and the other students understand what can be a complex and challenging subject.
  • This teacher, year after year, goes above and beyond for her students. She has taken a group of 16 unmotivated, low performing students from impoverished backgrounds this year and, with grace, dignity, respect, and high expectations, transformed them into curious learners with a drive to excel. Three who were not expected to meet the district’s criteria for identification as gifted, have been identified due to the wonderful work of Mrs. A.!
  • Marybeth goes above and beyond to meet the needs of all of her students. She creates highly engaging activities and has spent so much of her own money creating a makerspace for students to utilize. It would be great for her to win something to help her efforts to continue to support students’ love of learning.
  • This teacher has been an absolute godsend to my child this year. She understands the importance of mental wellness and strives to REALLY get to know and support each individual child in her classroom. She is passionate about both struggling and gifted learners, fighting to give them exactly what they need every step of the way. She understands anxiety and stress, and joy in education!
  • Amanda goes above and beyond to meet student needs. She lets them know that she cares, she also has high expectations for all students.
  • Amy works tirelessly (like many teachers) to support all of her students, especially those identified as gifted (unlike many teachers, sadly.) Amy truly understands the importance of enrichment and good old differentiation for gifted learners. We teach in a difficult district and she deserves much love and recognition!
teacher at desk

She has supported me and encouraged me…

  • She is an amazing teacher! Not only does she always go the extra mile for her students, she does the same for her colleagues and reaches out to help those that need a helping hand.
  • She has a Gifted and Talented endorsement, and supports students by recommending them for the Primary Talent Pool.
  • Becky has supported me and encouraged me throughout the 5 years that I have known her. She constantly challenges me to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things. She once asked my to present with her about technology tools for teachers at the district level. I was so scared, and her excitement kept me level-headed. She has stepped in for me during after school enrichment activities. She has nominated me for awards when she is more deserving. It is a pleasure to work with Becky and to talk with her, because she exudes positivity, confidence, peacefulness, and action. Becky L. deserves a special surprise for the positive impact she makes in the lives of her colleagues and students every day.
  • Mrs. C. is the best. She is well rounded in supporting and growing student’s abilities. She sees beyond what a normal classroom teacher may see in students. She is able to explain and guided teachers to better understand their GT students. And, if anyone could make good use of resources, Mrs. C. sure can. I cannot thank her enough for her patience with me and my students. Her dedication and knowledge are impressive and her ability to share that knowledge and love for teaching is a blessing to our school and students.
  • Penny is an energizer bunny when it comes to teaching (and everything she does). She has an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm for her students and our staff. She is a delightful teaching partner, mentor to others, new mom and friend.
teacher with students

She has risen to the challenges…

  • Megan goes above and beyond for her students, as well as her colleagues. She doesn’t look at herself as a leader, humble as she is. However, many of her co-workers look to her for advice, support, and an encouraging smile. She has risen to the challenges that this chaotic year has presented. She may have a bad day, but she wipes away her tears and carries on, determined to make a difference in the lives of her students. With five children of her own, she works vigorously outside of normal school hours to make sure her lessons and instruction are well suited for her students, given their academic abilities. She genuinely cares for all her students and becomes invested in each and every one of them. She is loved by her students and admired by her colleagues. Megan H. is one-of-a-kind and truly deserving of this recognition. 
  • Mindy has been a tremendous source of support through a difficult year. We are both teaching 100% online this year for our district this year. To say it was a massive undertaking is an understatement. She has offered resources and friendship to me as well as an outstanding on-line experience for her 80 4th graders! I am so glad our paths crossed this year!
  • Amy is a gem! I first met her when she was my long-term sub when I went through a stem cell transplant and had to be out of the classroom for 2 months. She was so terrific and went above a beyond. This year she has wrangled cats trying to teach 2nd graders in masks! I can’t imagine how hard that would be. It has been a tough year and she deserves a treat!
  • Shelby was my daughter’s friend who grew up to be my student teacher and then an outstanding 4th grade teacher. She brings so much passion to her students! During this crazy covid year, she taught in person at personal risk to her own family (mom to 2 children under 5). She has worked her tush off and deserves a treat!

She has been a gift to my students and my kids…

  • I would like to surprise this teacher, because she has been a gift to my students and my kids. Kate helps kids see multiple perspectives and helps them appreciate the importance of deep level thinking. Kate plans lessons for the entire district as well as students at several schools in our district. She no longer works at the same school as I do. However, when I asked her recently to write a recommendation letter for me she answered with a question, “When do you need it by?” She is selfless and thoughtful. A surprise for Kate would make my day!
  • Because she works hard, is a good teacher, and this is her first year as gifted coordinator. She has embraced the challenge of taking on a new job this year and has done a good job. 
  • MaryPat goes above and beyond for her students. She was a district nominee for Teacher of the Year! She does a photography project with her middle schoolers where she takes them to the mountain and with a mentor they shoot and develop amazing photos. She is equally dedicated to the professional development of the other GT teachers in our district. She voluntarily mentors and provides ideas, materials, and feedback for the rest of us. She is a teacher worthy of her name on a building!
  • She’s in her 2nd year of teaching so started as a “regular” teacher and has had to learn regular/hybrid/remote all at once!
  • Amanda goes above and beyond to reach all of her various learners. She works diligently to offer her advanced and gifted learners replacement activities that will challenge and engage their minds on a daily basis. She is a great team member and always willing to learn more and experiment in her classroom. She is one of the most positive teachers to work with.
  • Sammi works tirelessly to develop lessons that engage all of her learners. She has such a wide range of abilities in her classroom, but always finds ways to modify or accommodate everyone. She goes above and beyond to continue challenging my group of gifted students in her class. She even pulls students from the other class to work in small groups just to make sure they are getting what they need to continue to grow as learners. She is never complacent to do just the basic curriculum. She works to find what my gifted students need and provide instruction at their level. It is wonderful to see her advocate for her gifted students, which so often gets overlooked by other teachers. 

She strives always to learn more and do more…

  • Donell has been the best teaching partner I could have asked for over the past 5 years. Although I am heading back to the classroom, she is someone I truly think is deserving of a gift. She has traveled with me all over the country to learn more about the world of gifted education. She strives to always learn more and do more. Please consider Donell!
  • Our school spent 1st quarter remote learning, and then the next two quarters transitioning in and out of various and challenging models, and finishing with 4th quarter in-person. Working with her teammate who was teaching remotely, after first quarter Renee took on all students from both classes who wanted to be in-person, for a total of 31 students! It is wall to wall desks and students that are socially distanced. It is challenging but she recognized that students needed some consistency and needed to be in school. She has done this with grace, humor, and a smile on her face. What would have brought most teachers to their knees, she has found a way to make it work, while still trying to provide small group and 1:1 attention. While eating a special lunch with one of her students, I overheard this student say, “You’re my favorite teacher! That’s saying a lot because I’ve had a lot of great teachers!” She will never seek it, but deserves kuddos for her dedication this year!
  • I have watched Dawn S. remain positive and effective as a first-grade teacher throughout a gut-wrenching semester. Her father was hospitalized for over 8 weeks with Covid, and then passed away just last month. I would see Dawn teaching at times with tears in  her eyes, but mustering up a smile and having so much patience with her students. She never let the pain she was going through keep her from being there for them. I would LOVE for something great like this to happen for Dawn. She is the most caring and appreciative person you’ll ever meet!
  • Stacy is an amazing teacher. It isn’t easy being a middle school teacher, but the students love her. When she was teaching remotely for the first part of the year, she spend so much time just making sure her kids were doing okay emotionally. She is one of the few teachers I know who can actually get kids to start liking math, even if they aren’t good at it.
  • Kelly is dedicated to her students. She always goes the extra mile to ensure they have a very rich learning experience but has gone above and beyond during this difficult time. She serves both remote and in-person students. To ensure that everyone is able to do hands-on activities, she makes packets for her remote students and even hand delivers them to those who can’t come to the school to retrieve them. I could go on and on. The bottom line is that her heart is as big as Texas and beats for her students.
  • She has been teaching in person all year and working so hard trying to catch up her 1st grade class when they weren’t able to finish Kindergarten due to Covid. She’s an amazing teacher!
teacher with students

She has been able to light a spark…

  • A passionate teacher, Laura lacks confidence in her abilities and worries others do not like her. I want her to know that she has a unique way of connecting with students and should feel awesome about what she does in the classroom with and for her students.
  • Sandy puts her very best into everything she does as an educator, and as a result, her students receive top-notch materials, instruction, and learning opportunities. Sandy genuinely cares about providing her students a challenging learning environment, and she has worked across two campuses this year to provide virtual and in-person learning to her students.
  • Mrs. Justice has really been able to light a spark in my own kids lives for learning and loving math. She works hard to make it enjoyable. She not only has helped the 5th grade students at our school grow to love math, she has been building a personal relationship with all 100-something 5th graders, even while learning remotely at the beginning of the year!
  • I would like to surprise her because she goes so far above and beyond to build relationships with her GT students. This goes such a long way in her efforts to coach/mentor the unique SEL side of GT students that needs attention.
  • She is an amazing teacher.
  • She is an amazing teacher and role model.
  • She is a phenomenal person and educator.
  • She goes above and beyond for her students.
  • Mrs. Naughton goes above and beyond to challenge all her students while making school so fun they often don’t even realize how hard they are working. She spends countless thankless hours after school and on Saturdays sponsoring the robotics club. She really cares about her kids and has made this potentially difficult year wonderful for my son. Plus I’m always forwarding your emails to her and telling her about your things so I think she would really love and use these gifts.
  • Joanna is amazing! She works so hard to meet the needs of her 120+ Gifted Students! She spends lots of time outside of working hours coming up with wonderful lessons for her students to experience! She also shares those wonderful lessons with me and other GT Specialists! She is one of the hardest workers I know, and loves her kids. I would like to surprise her so that she will feel appreciated! She works so hard all of the time and is always eager to help others! She would be so surprised, and I think it would make her week!
  • Sandra is the most encouraging educator I know! She loves her student and they love her! She is the first one to point other educators towards what is most important, and reminds us to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our students. She is basically our team cheerleader and encourager! Sandra has a strong faith and always reminds us to keep our lives in order with God, family, school. She is just so full of joy and love for her students and her coworkers! I would love to surprise her because she always is the first to encourage me!
teacher with student

She continues to innovate…

  • Amy is my teaching partner and she is amazing! She is consistently advocating and thinking of the needs of our 104 gifted students. She is incredibly flexible and creative in her thinking and models that daily for students. Beyond being an amazing teacher, she is a mom to 3 incredible children! She virtually taught this year while having her brand-new kindergartener next to her learning for the first time! She is incredible and deserves to be celebrated for managing with grace and calm all of the challenges of this unique school year. Even though she had/has so much on her plate she continues to innovate for our students. She inspires me everyday to be a better teacher, person, friend, and colleague. I hope you select her to receive this gift, she ABSOLUTELY deserves it!
  • Robin is my sister and an awesome Music Teacher! She moved districts and schools this year to be closer to my daughter! She taught Music until after Spring Break on a cart traveling around to classes all over the building. She dealt with desk shields, no instruments allowed, and other Covid Protocols that made teaching a love of Music challenging. She has worked so hard this year to plan engaging lessons that her students enjoy. She has gotten to know an new campus after teaching in the same school for 13 years. She has had to build relationships with a new team and a new district music team. After such a hard year, where she made the best of a difficult Covid situation, I would love to surprise her! She always looks for the bright side in every situation, and I’d love to surprise her!
  • She is epitome of a dedicated and supportive teacher not only to her students, but also, to her peers. She has her finger on the pulse of everything from curriculum knowledge, state standards, leadership in the district, collaborating with teachers, and understanding the needs of all her students and their families.
  • Kerry is an amazing teacher that goes above and beyond with her students. She would be the last person to pat herself on the back.
  • Amanda is my mentee this year and has done an incredible job her first year as a GT specialist in these unprecedented times. She is innovative and dedicated and we are so happy she has joined our department.
  • He strives to be the best teacher each day.
  • She is 2nd yr GT facilitator/RTI provider/READ plan specialist/ALP specialist/GT teacher in a school with a large GT identified population. She is amazing day after day!!
  • Julie is a remarkable teacher. She is dedicated to helping both students and teachers grow. Her enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and patience spark learning at Jarrettown Elementary.
  • She goes above and beyond to teacher her kiddos. She still offers advice to my son who is now in 8th grade.
Group of preschool pupils enjoying a class with their teacher outdoors and sitting on the grass

She cares deeply about her students…

  • She really does go all in. She works way harder than she gets paid and it is not just about good enough. It is always above and beyond because they are worth it.
  • Mrs. H. is an excellent teacher! She cares deeply about her students and consistently works to develop lessons to challenge them. She pays special attention to the distinct social and emotional needs of her gifted learners. She is an awesome educator!
  • Ms. M. is a very creative and caring teacher. She works diligently every day to meet the needs of her students. She deserves recognition and praise!
  • This teacher goes above any beyond helping to support her teachers in supporting gifted students as well as providing enrichment for others
  • We moved to the school district and she did so much to engage and get our 3 rd grader tested for G&T and continues to challenge and support him to keep working hard and raise his own expectations of himself.
  • Because she is a wonderful teacher, very passionate about gifted education. She always goes above and beyond for her students to make sure they are challenged. She works with many under-privileged children, and goes out of her way to help them financially when they have an opportunity to go on field trips. 
  • She’s the best!
  • She has worked extremely hard to introduce Depth and Complexity to her 1st graders. As the GT Facilitator, I am so proud of her efforts and how much her kids have grown. She had seen the benefit of D&P for all her kids, not just advanced kids.
  • Ms. R. is dynamite! Outstanding GATE teacher with high expectations for all her students. She is humble and super hard working. A teacher like this deserves recognition and a little something s’mthin’!
  • Aside from being an AMAZING, inspiring, and caring teacher, she is a close friend, mentor, and an example of what I inspire to be as a teacher when “I grow up.”
  • She works really hard to provide the best lessons for her students so they can take knowledge and apply it within and outside of school.
  • Single Mom working hard to advocate for GT kids!
  • This year, Iris taught a large, clustered group of my gifted students. She not only challenged them academically, but as human beings, all while making them feel appreciated and accepted as gifted individuals. She pushed them to achieve things that they didn’t believe they were capable of. She taught them how to work together and to push each other. I cannot express how much I appreciate what she has done for these students.
  • Kelley is the cornerstone of our GT teacher team and has kept kids engaged in doing science through pandemic, remote, hybrid, and in person teaching!
teacher with students

She adds positive energy…

  • Mr. G. is one of the few teachers who have embraced my daughter’s intellectual giftedness, and worked HARD to help her stay engaged in her learning. He does an exceptional job connecting with his students!
  • Works hard to meet the gifted needs of students and supports teachers
  • She is an amazing colleague and teacher. Always willing to brainstorm & run with crazy ideas. She will help out anyone and everyone. She has a positive attitude even when it seems like everything is against her. It is a privilege to work with her!
  • Teresa is one of those teachers who always does what is best for her students. She is great at ignoring the drama and challenges going on around her and just focuses her energy on her students. I have always admired that about her.
  • She is a great teacher, person, and friend!
  • Julie is an amazing teacher and an awesome department head. She tirelessly goes out of her way for her teachers and her students. We had a pipe burst in our school during the snowpocalypse, and Julie’s room was destroyed. We are sharing a room, and hearing and seeing her work so hard to help her students pass the Biology STAAR test is inspiring.
  • Danielle gives her all to her students. Recently, she found out she is expecting and there are complications to the pregnancy. She could use a little boost and I can’t think of a better way to lift her spirits and show appreciation than with a surprise. She also is a big fan of yours too!
  • She has done an amazing job this year with the many changes. She went from running a pull-out school-wide program to having a 5th grade homeroom with all gifted students. The students have learned so much while having fun during this crazy year.
  • Michelle is an outstanding teacher who works to meet the needs of all of her students.
  • Kacey has really gone the extra mile this year, continuing great teaching while volunteering for many other things.
  • Deborah is new to our school and has really added some positive energy. She seems unflappable and she’s not afraid to take on a challenge.
  • Heather is our GT liaison and she really wants to challenge her students.
  • Janet is one of the hardest working teachers I know! She is our GT liason and a gifted student advocate!
  • I’ve been working with Heather for 3 years and she is the heart of our program. She consistently asks for the toughest kids and loves them up like nobody else. She embraces all the quirkiness of gifted kids and challenges them to become their best selves. (She does the same for us as teachers, too!) If ever there was a teacher that was “all in”, it’s Heather. <3
  • She is my hero!
  • She is one of my favorite teachers.
  • Mrs. C. is a very hard working teacher and she is kind and funny.
  • Jillian is an excellent teacher who always goes above and beyond to meet the needs of every student in her class. She has taught both in person and virtually this school year and is passionate about her students and their success.
teacher with student

He shows his love for students everyday…

  • She lets us do cool science projects.
  • He shows his love for students EVERYDAY!
  • Jane’s brain never stops working and creating new opportunities for her students.
  • Caryn’s love for her students is evident in her pursuing every opportunity for every child in her classroom.
  • This is Cayleigh’s second year in her GT role. I have been mentoring her and I have seen her working hard to improve the program even during a pandemic. 
  • Carol is constantly thinking of ways to stretch her kids critical thinking.
  • Lindsey’s love for her students is evident in each conversation regarding what the student needs.
  • Trish strives to make her classes the best part of her student’s day.
  • Maggie recognizes and celebrates the potential in every child.
  • Mignonne supports the needs of each of her students.
  • Karen goes above and beyond to support academic learning and excellence for ALL students. She is a team player with identified twice exceptional students and runs an IEP meeting like a BOSS! She’s a supportive colleague and makes our school and the world a better place!
  • Kimberly shows her love for students in every conversation about her kiddos.
  • Sarah C. strives to keep informed of any current research and practices for the benefit of her students.
  • Stacit recognizes the potential in her kiddos and strives to help them reach that potential.
  • Jen has been a great partner this year as we have navigated teaching gifted students mostly via Zoom.
  • She is one of my favorite teachers.
  • This is Sandy’s first year as a GT teacher and she’s rocking it!
  • She works hard at always coming up with the most creative and innovative lessons…she deserves a surprise!
  • Because this is her first year doing this job, and there are so many restrictions and changes to how we can do our job, where we can do our job, and when we can do our job this year, yet she’s rocking it everyday!
teacher giving teachers a high five

He is a dedicated teacher…

  • Mr. C. is a dedicated teacher who makes fun but developmentally appropriate science,  including creating science project for diverse kids include gifted, minority, and socioeconomic disadvantaged. My daughter, an 8th grader told me he is her favorite teacher even if she gets a C in Science.
  • Maureen has been my mentor for the last 2 years. She is always there to help, guide, share, and encourage. I just want her to know how special she is to me!
  • Sarah has a huge heart and a wonderful rapport with all her students. She has the patience of a saint as well as the ability to engage students in learning as well as holding them accountable. She respects her students and they respect her! Teaching Middle school is a challenge. She goes above and beyond by making learning so relevant as well as guiding them to pursue their passions while helping them think about the future. I am proud to know her a
  • She is an unsung hero- always willing to help – and shares your posts!
  • She is a hard working professional with a FANTASTIC attitude about education and she goes the extra mile for her students.

Let’s Surprise Three More

As I was putting this together, I was struck again by the submissions. It’s incredible that there are so many wonderful teachers and also wonderful people willing to spend time nominating them and writing about them. You cannot help but be moved by the kind words and the hard, hard work they represent.

I decided to choose three more teachers to recognize with a $100 Amazon gift card and free copies of all of the ebooks. These I chose based on the submissions. It was sooooo hard to narrow it down. I wish I could recognize them all.

The three additional teachers are:

Ms. G submitted by Kelly T.

Ms. G. has been an amazing teacher through our trials and tribulations of the year of COVID. We began the fall remotely and Ms. G. adapted to online teaching and used all of the tech tricks our district made available. She took the time to jump in and learn to do a good job for students. Her virtual classroom management and student engagement was impeccable.

We then transitioned to in-person learning and again Ms. G. adapted to the safety measures and did her best to teach children. Unfortunately, her class encountered multiple quarantines in which she handled with grace and poise and continued to TEACH to the best of her ability. The elementary school was then shut down early, two weeks before Thanksgiving due to rising COVID cases. Our students then went remote until February 2021.

Through this time Ms. G. taught her butt off and made sure these 3rd graders learned literacy skills, how to research, how to find evidence in a text, how to spell, how to write paragraphs and essays, all for our state testing that happened last week. She even continued using Depth & Complexity in her language and lessons!! (Yay!)

Ms. G. is my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher. I have seen my daughter learn and grow throughout all of this! She loves her class and her teacher. We are beyond blessed to have had Ms. G. for school year 2020-21! We are grateful and she deserves to be recognized for her hard work, tenacity, and dedication to children. She never let up! Here’s to you Ms. G., YOU are appreciated!

Bradley submitted by Wendy C.

Bradley works so hard each year to bring the best experiences to his students. He makes his subject come alive and is always conscious of the needs of his advanced learners. The passion and depth of knowledge he has for history and civics is evident to all that know him, and it shows in his teaching every day.

He has worked at a state and national level to advocate for and improve civics education for students. Last year he designed a PBL unit for his Advanced Inquiry class that had students researching with university level resources, ancestry sites, and collaborating with students in Belgium to research and create video eulogies for fallen WWI soldiers from Washington state.

Here is a video eulogy of Bradley honoring a Yakima, WA soldier that was not repatriated after the war.

He is an amazing educator (with a huge dose of Imposter Syndrome) that I would love to have recognized for his awesomeness.

Madison submitted by Leslie B.

This school year has been a tough one for ALL teachers, especially those first-year teachers. Madison has persevered through it all with the grace, poise, and professionalism of an experienced educator. She started the year off with her mentor teacher taking a leave of absence. As a result, she not only was left to her own devices, she absorbed those additional students into her classes.

Faced with teaching 50+ students in-person and virtually (simultaneously), Madison set out to create engaging, meaningful lessons for her students all the while taking the time to make connections them. When a coach was needed for UIL Science, Madison stepped up.

When a new teacher was hired on at the semester, Madison reached out and offered support. And as if this wasn’t enough, she completed her certification program and passed all of her exams over her school breaks. The best part…she is already looking forward to next year, reflecting on the year and how she and her team can improve for next year’s group of students.

Madison has done more than show up this year for her students. She has been a wonderful example and a reminder of why we all do what we do in the first place.

One More Bonus Teacher

One of the submissions caught my eye because it mentions that the teacher is a military spouse whose husband has been away serving. In honor of my two sons currently serving as US Army officers, one of who is deployed, I am awarding this teacher a special award from me personally. She will receive a $100 Amazon gift card, a $100 Target gift card, a $100 Starbucks giftcard, and my appreciation and admiration.

Mrs. E submitted by Kim S.

Mrs. E is an amazing teacher who goes above and beyond for all her students. She is working on her master’s degree and has created activities throughout the school year to inspire all the staff in the building – mindfulness slideshow, painting class, game night, April Bingo challenge, etc.

She created a one-stop website that houses all the links teachers need for school and district information. She organized a weekly workout for all staff, and to top that all off, her husband is serving in in the military and has been gone. She also has 3 children!

Thank You

Thank you so much to those of you who shared these stories of amazing teachers. To those of you who are teachers, thank you. Thank you for being there everyday in so many ways. We celebrate you and honor you and are so grateful to you.

teacher reading to class

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