Jerome Dunn Academy School No. 9
Teacher of the Year
Degrees and Certifications:
Grade 1 Bilingual, Self Contained
There are a few factors that influenced me to become a teacher. After graduating college with my bachelor’s degree in Public Administration I became a Juvenile Probation Officer. During my time as a Probation Officer, I oversaw approximately 100+ children aged 10-18. These children inspired me to take a chance on myself and take the Praxis exam and take the leap into education. My thoughts were to have the opportunity to reach and guide students prior to them entering the criminal justice system.
Another factor that influenced me was the joy I received when I was surrounded by children. At the beginning of my teaching career and making the transition from Probation Officer to educator it was challenging but I found joy in learning and perfecting my craft every single day. When I first began as a teacher I started as a Bilingual sixth grade teacher and I was the fourth teacher the students had that school year. At the end of each school day, I reflected on my day and worked hard on making learning fun and challenging for the students. After my second year we departmentalized the bilingual department and I taught Social Studies to each grade, and I was able reach all the bilingual students at the middle school. Being able to loop with my students and see their educational growth was another factor that helped me in knowing that by choosing education I was exactly where I needed to be.
It is my belief that I have many teaching styles and I pride myself on having a strength in the teaching style of a facilitator. This style is student centered and promotes critical thinking skills. This allows students to be better communicators which I believe is the base of having a successful education. After giving my students a lesson, it is my job to motivate them and pique their curiosity and ask questions. I believe that students should not be afraid to make mistakes and having the wrong answer will lead to the right one. I am a teacher that likes to have my students question the problems and answers in hopes it leads to a deeper understanding.
Educational Service Professional of the Year
Degrees and Certifications:
Mary Grace Ruiz
My passion as a school-based Speech-Language Specialist is fueled by empowering children to find their voice through a gesture, using picture communication symbols, and/or spoken words to fundamentally communicate. I am motivated when a child is engaged and has fun while working on targeted speech goals. I feel proud of each child’s positive strides towards communication goals such as the ability to point to a picture to request/comment, ask/answer a question using a sentence, produce good speech sounds, and/or reduce stuttering. I especially love the opportunity to look into a child’s eyes beaming with joy; improving self-confidence; and discovering his/her full potential to achieve success. I am honored and dedicated to serve students so that their messages are understood and valued since communication is an essential part of life for individuals to connect in a school, as part of family, as well as in the community.