Program provides boost to teachers
Michael Arington is the type of teacher who can make math homework seem fun and important to his sixth-grade students.
Last week he moved about his classroom, feeding off the energy of the preteens, who shouted the answers to math problems as if they were talking Hillary Duff movies and not square roots.
But it isn’t easy to maintain a high level of energy in the classroom, and sometimes teachers need an extra boost, Arington said.
In 2003, Arington received some much-needed inspiration in the form of the Linda Brown Fellows Award, an honor given for excellence in teaching. The award, which came with a $2,000 grant Arington used to attend space camp for teachers, helped him maintain his high-energy teaching style.
“It gave me a shot in the arm and motivated me more as a teacher,” Arington said, “because I was able to bring more space curriculum to my classroom, but more so because it gave me a chance to become a student again. It enlightened my teaching.”
The Linda Brown Fellows Award is an opportunity for community members to nominate teachers for excellent work in the classroom. The yearly program, sponsored by the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation, is named after former teacher and foundation president, Linda Brown.
Arington said it is important for teachers to be energized once in a while with recognition programs like the Linda Brown Fellows program.
“It’s good to get nominated by someone from outside of the education community,” he said. “It tells you other people care about what you do. It’s neat to be recognized by the community; it’s not [school] administrators giving you the award.”
Since its inception in 1999, the Linda Brown Fellows Award has grown significantly. That year, the honor was only open to high school teachers, and Excellence in Education received only three nominations. Two teachers were awarded $1,500 each to pay for education enhancement.
Over the years, the distinction was made available to all teachers in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Now teachers are awarded $2,000 for education enhancement and receive a $500 bonus for personal use.
As a recent addition to the program, past recipients get together each year for “A Gathering of Fellows,” a luncheon at which Excellence in Education board members pick the brains of fellows to determine where the financial and program needs of the district can be met.
The fellows program continues to grow each year, said Sally Frazier, Linda Brown Fellows chairperson.
Last year, teachers, students and community members submitted 64 nominations for the Linda Brown Fellows Award. However, none were submitted for middle school teachers, Frazier said.
Frazier said the award committee is hoping to garner even more nominations this year.
“I think it’s really nice to award excellence in the classroom,” Frazier said. “If you were to read these nominations ” they’re really heartwarming. It’s evident that these teachers really care about their work, and it’s nice to be able to honor those teachers.”