Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy
Teacher of the Year
Degrees and Certifications:
Ms. Christine Irwin
For as far back as I can remember I have always wanted to become a teacher. From a very early age my parents instilled the importance of an education in both my brother and I. I remember how involved both my parents were in our education. My mother in particular would sit with us nightly at the kitchen table reviewing our reading homework and our math facts. It was those nights and my mother’s patience that inspired me to become a teacher. I knew at that moment that I wanted to both inspire and change the lives of future generations by becoming a teacher.
Merriam-Webster defines the word teaching as “the act, practice, or profession of a teacher”, I define teaching as one of the rewarding jobs in the world. While in college and even now years later I never thought of teaching as a job, I thought of teaching as a way to motivate future generations. Throughout my twenty years of teaching, as a self-contained teacher and most recently an in-class support teacher, I have enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues on lessons and projects that enhance our students learning experiences. My most rewarding experience as an in-class support teacher was helping my students apply to college. I enjoyed watching them research various colleges and even remember the stories that they told me after visiting them. I arranged a college visit to Union County College so that my students who were unable to visit a college on their own were given the experience of a college tour. That college visit opened their eyes to their future and as we were getting back on the bus that day a few of my students said that before this experience they didn't think that college was for them, but they do now. Becoming an In-Class Support Teacher, collaborating with my colleagues, and working with my students has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Educational Service Professional of the Year
Degrees and Certifications:
Ms. Dayana Gil
My favorite part of teaching was the relationships I was building with my students. I enjoyed teaching math, but I loved getting to know my students and helping them the best I could. That is why I got my school counseling degree. I wanted to have a deeper impact in my student’s lives and help them navigate through high school and help them prepare for their futures. As a school counselor, I can help my students think about their future, whether it be college, trade school, military, or work. I try to get them thinking about where they see themselves five or ten years from now and what it would take to get there.
I am a high school counselor, with over 200 students in my case load, and the AVID School Counselor for my school. I am also the school counselor for our school’s afterschool and Saturday APEX Program and run the social media for our Department which include REMIND and Instagram. I try to keep open communication with all students and parents in our school. I also keep track of all scholarships and create spreadsheets with all relevant information to share with students and parents.