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Tahoe-Truckee Teacher of the Year: Carolyn Stewart is third finalist

Katie Fagundes
Special to the Sun
Charlie Riley, Truckee Hometown SEARS owner; Michael Gelbman, Publisher Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza; Carolyn Stewart, Teacher of the Year finalist; and Valerie Simpson, Truckee Elementary Principal, with Stewart's class.
Courtesy photo |

About the award

Now in its fourth year, the Truckee Hometown-SEARS/Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year program was created in 2011 to recognize the efforts of community teachers across Truckee, North Tahoe and Incline Village.

If you know a teacher who is making a lasting impact on students’ lives who you would like to thank, please nominate them for this year’s Teacher of the Year. Nominations can be emailed to: truckeetahoteacheroftheyear@gmail.com or dropped off at Truckee Hometown SEARS.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Truckee Hometown SEARS/Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year program has announced the selection of Truckee Elementary Science Enrichment Teacher Carolyn Stewart as its third Teacher of the Year finalist.

Stewart was recognized for engaging her students with a contagious passion for science.

“Students flock to her room before school and at recess and Mrs. Stewart welcomes them all with her warm smile,” wrote one parent nominator. “She is passionate and inspiring.”

Michael Gelbman, publisher of the Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, and Charlie Riley, owner of Truckee Hometown Sears, presented Stewart with an award certificate and gifts on April 21.

“It is exciting that they already know what science is at such a young age.”Carolyn Stewart

Truckee Elementary Principal Valerie Simpson described Stewart as passionate and dedicated to the students and science.

“She is a team player and communicates with all staff,” said Simpson. “Her classroom is super engaging for students with all sorts of animals that the children love.”

Carolyn Stewart grew up in Ukiah, Calif., and attended California State University Chico. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Stewart started working on obtaining her teaching credential.

Part way through her training, she met her future husband’s childhood second-grade teachers. She immediately felt that working with these mentor teachers was where she was “meant to be” and transferred to CSU East Bay to work with them and finish her credential program.

While working with her new mentors, Stewart further developed a love for science education.

Stewart went on to teach in the Bay Area and Tahoe area in both private and public schools, teaching all grade levels from Kindergarten to 12th grade.

After teaching fifth grade at Truckee Elementary, a science enrichment position opened, and Stewart was a perfect fit.

Stewart was already known as a “science person” and had been incorporating a strong science program into every position she had since first working with her mentor teachers.

As the Science Enrichment teacher, Stewart supplements science teaching that is already being done in the classrooms. =

Students at every grade level receive additional hands-on science instruction when their class visits the science lab.

Stewart teaches five groups a day, seamlessly moving among six different grade levels’ developmental and curriculum needs while teaching the Next Generation Science Standards.

Stewart is very grateful to have the opportunity to give students hands-on lab experience and recognizes it is an advantage many other schools do not have.

“I am proud to teach in a community that supports its students and education,” said Stewart. “With the passing of school bond Measure A our Truckee Tahoe community has ensured that students continue receiving programs such as Science Enrichment, PE, Technology, Art and Music, as well as many other important services.”

Measure A is a special parcel tax for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District established in 1989, and renewed in 2011.

The bond measure provides funding for academic and enrichment programs including funding for science and computer labs, libraries and classrooms.

Stewart is one of three Science Enrichment teachers in TTUSD funded by Measure A, which also funds the science lab, materials and resources needed to create hands-on experiments and lessons for students in each grade.

Stewart uses the science lab to teach students of all ages that science is everywhere. She hosts a science club during morning recess when students can come to the lab and help take care of the animals housed there, as well as learn ways to better the planet for themselves and future generations.

Older students participate in the Botany Club during lunchtime recess, working on their indoor garden.

Stewart loves having this amazing environment and resources to bring science to life for her students.

Her students are naturally curious and engaged, and she views it as her role to capitalize on their interests.

Parents also note the positive impact Stewart and the science program have on students.

“Carolyn brings science to life for the lucky Truckee Elementary students,” wrote one nominator. “Her classroom is an exciting place to be!”

Stewart is equally thrilled to bring science into the lives of her students. When walking the main hall at school she often hears the voices of her youngest students calling to her “Hi, Science!” This makes her day.

“I represent science to them, and that’s my name,” said Stewart. “It is exciting that they already know what science is at such a young age.”

Stewart hopes the community will continue supporting her and others as they bring enriching programs and curriculum to Tahoe Truckee students.


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