(From left to right) Linda Brown, Mike Franey, Maggie Bockius, Lindee Eckert, Julie Miescke, Dave Green, Cindy Flores.
The Linda Brown Fellows Award was created to promote and recognize excellence in teaching. This honor is presented to teachers who set their personal expectations high and make learning exciting every day. This year, five recipients were selected from a field of 52 nominations for 24 teachers. The award winners each received $2,000 to be used for educational purposes and an additional $1,000 for personal use.
MAGGIE BOCKIUS, Glenshire Elementary School
Each day Maggie begins her fourth grade class with the words, "Kind words, kind hearts, kind thoughts." She challenges her students through such varied programs as raising trout in the classroom, helping with our water quality through Project Wet, Brain Gym and actually building telegraphs in the classroom. The recent training Maggie received through the U.C. Davis Environmental Research Center is just one way in which she strives to make her teaching up to date and relevant bringing the leading science activities in education to her students.
One of Maggie's strengths is her care and concern for each and every student in her class. She makes sure she personally has one to one contact with each student each day. This is illustrated in the professional and caring way she handled the onset of juvenile diabetes in one of her students this past year. Daily calls, emails and occasional home visits helped the student adjust to re-entry with her curious and concerned classmates. The parent of this child states, "Her agenda is the children- their education, their growth, their journey." Another gift she has is creating a family of her classroom. Through humor and her non-judgmental approach, she is able to meld them into a cohesive group that respects each other's differences and finds joy in learning.
LINDEE ECKERT, North Tahoe Middle School
Lindee is well known in the community for her dedication and leadership toward our environment and with the students who are soon to be the stewards of that environment. Taking to heart the concept of service learning, she has guided students to spend countless hours working in partnership with local environmental agencies. The students participate in the Youth Service Symposium, go on a three-day Mono Lake field trip, as well as follow the travels of local adventurer, Doug Stoup, who teaches the students about climate change.
One of Lindee's students remarks "My teacher helps us with anything, even Language Arts, even though she teaches math and science. We do experiments almost every day. We made solar cars and experiments for camera people. We have also been filming a documentary for the Discovery Kids Channel which will air in the fall." On Sunday mornings Lindee would meet the students to film for this exciting documentary, one which thrusts her fame into the international arena! In addition to these classroom feats, Lindee is continually including her colleagues in teaming projects that include her entire grade level and often the entire school. She is viewed as the collegial teaming poster girl by her colleagues as evidenced by such projects as Unity Day, the Green Team and frequently bringing outside speakers and facilitators for the entire school. Her thirst for knowledge is amazing. Her students build model greenhouses to measure effects of soil warming due to global warming as well as measured snow pack and compared it to past levels. The experiences Lindee's students receive are very unique and many of them won't have the opportunity to learn this specific information until they reach college. She recently was featured in California Educator for this work in Green technology.
MIKE FRANEY, Truckee Elementary School
Mike has been nominated for the past three years by thankful parents and proud peers. In the past, people have remarked on the challenging and imaginative way in which he approaches the curriculum. They have commented on the autonomy and responsibility that the teacher instills in the students. They have talked about the maturity that the students achieve during their tenure in his class. But this year the nominations took on a different tenor. Mike took on a new challenge that involved changing the life of an individual. He was assigned a severely handicapped student to attend his class for a short period each day for mainstreaming. During the first of the year IEP, after listening to all of the difficulties that the child faced from the experts who would be coming for their few minutes a week to help, Mike announced that he wanted the child to be in his classroom full-time. By these few words he changed the life of one child who had never been expected to live, then never expected to breathe on his own, then never supposed to walk, talk or be potty trained, let alone be in a regular education class. Through this simple statement of faith he changed not only this child's life but those lives of the children in the class who learned how to view someone very different from them in a new and thoughtful light. Through Mike's eyes, his students began to see how hard working and energetic their classmate was. In the parent's words, "Through this teacher merely embracing our son's will, determination and creativity, the cheering section for him has grown from a small few to a large sum. This teacher truly embraces what it means to be a teacher no one is excluded from his teaching no matter how low or high the IQ or not matter how abstract or concrete they are in their thinking. For a family that was beginning to lose hope for a young boy, this teacher has made the world of difference.
DAVE GREEN, Truckee High School
Dave Green has made it his life's work to show young adults how dedication and extremely hard work can change your life. From 6:00 a.m. to sometimes late into the night he is at his school inspiring students. Whether he is on the field trying to get players into formations or at the podium squeezing sweet notes from his proteges he is an inspiration to his students. His teaching assignment takes him all over California all the while "herding scores of energetic students to their destination. When this destination is reached they bring the gift of music to out of the way nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation hospitals, veteran's homes, children's hospitals. The joy that the students feel is palpable in all of the performances. This joy is met by that of the recipients of their performances.
Locally, the students are no less active, often playing locally at such things as the opening of the bypass, the Rotary Christmas party and just about whenever and wherever they are invited. Students certainly learn the value of dedication to a life passion. But just because Dave's year is often spent getting uniforms for marching, tuxedoes and gowns for concerts, vests and ties for jazz band, instruments cared for and ready, and let us not forget the countless hours spent on fundraising, doesn't mean that the classroom is slighted. Long hours are spent perfecting the music and encouraging students in their quests for personal bests. He is a wonderful role model and treats his students as one big family. His personal musicianship is an inspiration to his students as well. One student comments "He is not just a teacher, he is a mentor. He is the most amazing flautist and when he plays for our class, it makes everyone get goose bumps. He has inspired me to work harder and become the musician I am now."
JULIE MIESCKE, Kings Beach Elementary
The passion and commitment of Julie is well known in her school and community. This past year was an especially diverse group of students for the educator and the challenge was met with creativity, enthusiasm and optimism. One parent makes an astute observation, "The federally mandated No Child Left Behind standards have heightened the pressure for kids to learn at the same pace, to demonstrate an 'on time performance record.' Because of her experience and dedication, this teacher is able to tailor the classroom experience to each student's particular needs." To increase the import of this statement, Julie accomplishes this feat in TWO LANGUAGES! Students are constantly amazed by the time spent with them individually before and after school hours. As they enter their classroom they are greeted with hugs, smiles and "Mi Amors." It is within an atmosphere of compassion that her class is not only encouraged, but expected to succeed. One parent comments that her son entered Julie's classroom below grade level. She further states that "This teacher is always looking to find the spark to empower each of her students and comes from all different angles to do so. She doesn't just teach the class, she teaches the individual child." Through his interest in science Julie inspired this student to work extremely hard on individual projects resulting in a huge leap on the learning curve.
Julie is well respected by her peers, parents and administrators. One parent's final comment says it all "The TTUSD website refers to the district's 'unrelenting commitment to excellence.' This teacher is the best example of someone executing the district's mission statement that I have seen as a parent."
2007 - 2008 Linda Brown Fellows Nominees