Every year teachers and their students work hard to grow and learn. The School Specialty Honor Roll is an annual opportunity to recognize and reward some of the incredibly resilient, kind, and talented students and teachers in our communities.
2019 School Specialty Honor Roll Winning Entries
This year’s nominated teachers and students were incredibly inspiring and three winners were recognized for their efforts. Check out each entry below and read about how all these students and teachers exemplified hard work and dedication this year:
Mrs. Karen Novak’s HMS Commincation Classes (13 Students)
“I teach in a Functional Special Education middle school classroom serving 13 children. The students I serve have a variety of needs ranging from autism to physical disabilities to multiple disabilities to emotional needs. I am always struggling to find elective classes that these kids can join and actively participate in instead of just sitting in the corner watching their same age peers interact in the class. Well, that all changed this year with Mrs. Novak’s Communications classes. She readily accepted my students and was eager to come up with creative ways to involve them every step of the way. For example, with the help of one of my paras, Mrs. Novak and her used a communication device with a non-verbal student so he could interview a fellow student and then present to the class. Another time, for some team skits, she had my para put my students lines in enlarged print on a PowerPoint that they could read from in the back of the room instead of having to memorize them. This gave them just the boost of confidence they needed and the all performed wonderfully. My kiddos come back from her class just beaming and so proud of their accomplishments. She makes them feel just like one of the “regular” kids. We have seen such growth this year in every child that had had the opportunity to be in one of her classes. They are learning great communication skills as well as gaining confidence in themselves. It’s the smallest successes that are the biggest celebrations for us like seeing the child that usually keeps to himself go and actually start a conversation with another kiddo or the quiet young lady who suddenly wants to participate with her homeroom in a lip sync contest in front of the whole school. I feel these types of success are happening more often because Mrs. Novak came into their lives and given them their chance to shine!”
Mrs. Jessica Deon’s 5th Grade Classroom (108 Students)
“My 5th Grade Science and Social Studies students have had a phenomenal year. They have accomplished many great things, most notably completing a service learning project to spread awareness of the global water crisis. Students collaborated to produce a video public service announcement. Students completed 85 percent of the video project on their own, including researching content for the script, serving as on-screen talent and helping to troubleshoot the production. While working to produce the video, the students began to research fundraising opportunities targeted at providing schoolchildren in underdeveloped countries with sustainable, clean drinking water. My students chose to partner with charity:water and created a campaign to fund clean water projects. To help engage our local community in their campaign, the children planned and executed a “Water Walk” to demonstrate the daily struggles of school children in water scarce areas. Scenes from our “Water Walk” were added to the video. The class originally set a goal for the 5th Grade to raise $500 in 50 days. They exceeded this goal within 24 hours of kicking off the campaign. The fundraiser gained national attention from both Charity: Water’s leadership and from Robert Redford’s Environmental Legacy, who each supported the student’s efforts. In addition to national attention, their success drew the attention of local media, earning them the top, front-page story for our local newspaper. Our campaign ended after having raised a total of $912. The public service announcement video has garnered 929 views, and is still attracting viewers. The children are looking forward to receiving photos and GPS coordinates so we can see the exact community we helped. In the end, I know that my students’ project not only helped a community far away, they helped our local community as well. Together, my students proved that anything can be accomplished with a little bit of grit, a lot of heart, and some teamwork. Luckily for me, this is only one of their accomplishments this year. I am pleased, blessed, and proud to guide an amazing group of scholars that aren’t waiting until they turn 18 to change the world. “Most people say it is the intellect that makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.” –Albert Einstein”
Mrs. Dilworth’s 2nd Grade Class (19 Students)
“This year we added Social Emotional Learning to our daily schedule. We begin every day with a class morning meeting. During these meetings students can share anything from what they did over the weekend, how they are feeling, ask questions, share things they are looking forward to, discuss current events/topics of interest or problems that are going on (with them, with friends, with class or grade level, etc.). We also discuss positive character traits (grit, gratitude, zest, optimism, purpose, growth mindset, etc.) In honor of World Kindness Day (November 13, 2018) and Random Acts of Kindness Week (February 17, 2019) our class went all out with a variety of activities in the classroom, within our grade level, and throughout our school. In addition, our students devised plans of how to implement acts of kindness at home, on the playground, and in other areas of their lives. I am so proud of my class. Not only did they work hard spreading kindness in November and again in February, but they have kept it going daily from November through the remainder of the school year. Students frequently write positive notes and anonymously stash them where classmates will find them (in backpacks, between the pages of a book the student is reading, on a chair, in a lunchbox, etc.). I’ve also noticed students leaving positive comments on their classmates digital portfolio submissions, without prompting. This has changed the climate of our class by 1000% … there are fewer arguments, disagreements, and conflicts. When I am out and have a substitute, there is always a note left for me telling me how kind, cooperative, and wonderful the class was in my absence – and many subs have said, “Please request me if you need a sub again, I loved being in your classroom with your students!” This is high praise as we know that when there is a sub, students normally ‘give them the business’ so to speak. Another thing I have noticed is that the students are less critical of themselves – I don’t hear comments like, “I can’t draw very well,” or “I don’t know how to do that.” Instead I hear “I’m still learning how to do this,” or “I am going to keep practicing this so I can get better.” Those phrases are heartwarming and so inspirational. If someone told me that introducing random acts of kindness would totally change the climate in my classroom at the end of the school year last year, I would have rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “Yeah, sure it will …” Since November, however, I am ALL IN … I not only think it is possible, I’ve seen it happen on a daily basis.”
How to Get on the Honor Roll
Get inspired and write down what makes your students special next year. When you see the next Honor Roll has started, enter your classroom’s story in for a chance to win. We love to read about all the cool things teachers and their students are doing.