Olive Chapel Elementary School teacher Rachael Stauffer is among the 12 finalists vying for the 2013 Wake County Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced tonight at a banquet at the Embassy Suites in Cary.
Schools selected a Teacher of the Year in November. Selection committees reviewed the teachers’ portfolios and narrowed the field to 24 semifinalists. Committee members then observed those teachers in the classroom and chose 12 finalists based on their professional background, educational history, professional development activities, community involvement, philosophy of teaching, education issues and trends, and letters of support.
Stauffer is a fourth grade teacher at Olive Chapel. She has been teaching for 16 years, including the last two at Olive Chapel.
Co-chair of the School Improvement Team and the school data team, Stauffer also created a history club at her school this year known as the Junior Tarheel Historians that is affiliated with the NC Museum of History.
Stauffer believes students should feel a connection between what they are learning and its relevance to the real world.
“Each week when I sit down to plan my lessons, I try to make them centered on current events and things my students will enjoy so they can develop their own opinions and ideas,” Stauffer said. “I appreciate hearing from families that the students were sharing something they learned about in class. Many of our students do not see the connection of what they are taught in school to the real world. By helping bridge these two areas, I feel I am helping to make the students stronger for their future and ours.”
Stauffer has developed an afterschool running club called the Landlubbers.
“I lead the weekly runs, training and instructional lessons,” Stauffer said. “Our weekly meetings teach students the short and long term benefits of being physically active and living a healthy lifestyle. At the end of the fall running season, the school club runs in the community’s 5K Turkey Trot.”
Parent Mary Beth Walden has had a child in Stauffer’s class for two years.
“Every parent feels welcome in Mrs. Stauffer’s classroom every day,” Walden said. “We are invited to observe, participate or volunteer during all kinds of activities. Mrs. Stauffer also effectively communicates with parents on a regular basis.”
Stauffer said that education has no time limits.
“In order to be prepared for the 21st century, students need to work well with others, listen to their ideas, and teachers need to be passionate about the topics they are presenting,” said Stauffer. “Education is truly never ending and should not stop when the school bell rings at the end of the day. As teachers, we should search out ways to bring real world issues into our classrooms so our students can be informed and knowledgeable citizens. Knowledge is power.”
The remaining finalists are: Lisa Amador, Yates Mill Elementary School; Sonya Brown, Smith Magnet Elementary School; Elizabeth Crowell, Davis Drive Middle School; Laurie Dillman, Fuquay-Varina High School; Amy-Lyn Foster, Lockhart Elementary School; Lindsay Hamrick, Martin Magnet Middle School; Dianne Jones, Wiley Magnet Elementary School; Anne Mayer, Sycamore Creek Elementary School; Luke Miles, Durant Road Middle School; Lynn Rustay, Holly Ridge Elementary School and Keri Woronka, Pleasant Union Elementary School.