Students Nominate Teachers for Teacher of The Year
As the ALARP students practiced their presentations in the Library on a quiet afternoon in 2015, they were suddenly interrupted by administrators, balloons and congratulations as Brittany Sharitz, language arts teacher, received her Teacher of the Year title. It all started with four nominations from her former students.
“It is so very kind to see that many students go to an effort to vocalize how much they appreciated me as a teacher,” Sharitz said.
Student nominations are becoming more popular this year as Principal Dr. Greg Mathison sent out a Google form on Jan. 14, to be completed by students who wish to nominate teachers for the award by Feb. 8. This is the first year students have been able to submit the form electronically, replacing the paper version of the submission form. Due to the change in format, the administration has received more than 79 student nominations, which is more than ever before.
Associate Principal Dr. Stephen Hankins said some of the nominations submitted have not been completely completed, with some missing explanations of why a teacher should receive the title. While those nominations will not be counted, others already have reached numbers past 80 which in prior years used to be in the low teens.
Dr. Hankins said the quick access to the form has been a large reason for the increase in nomination which is due to everyone having a Chromebook. He said a part of the surge in nominations could also be due to students wanting to thank their teachers without actually having to confront them face-to-face.
“It’s an honor to be nominated and even bigger honor to win,” Dr. Hankins said.
After winning Teacher of the Year at MHS, the teacher has the honor of competing in the district level and later state and even nation. Dr. Hankins said this ability to be recognized comes with a lot of work as well where teachers need to write essays and fill out forms.
In 2015, it was only Sharitz’s first year of teaching, so she didn’t expect to be nominated and even more so to win. She usually teaches freshmen, thus she didn’t feel like announcing the possibility of nominations to her classes was appropriate.
“I feel like students should have exposure to more teachers before they put a nomination in,” Sharitz said.
Many teachers get nominated by their colleagues, which Sharitz said is a great honor because they have known each other longer than many students have known their teachers. However, she said student nominations are of great value due their different perspective from inside the classroom, that many teachers don’t get to experience.
Being Teacher of the Year comes with many perks and responsibilities, some of which include the parking spot and obligation to speak at graduation.
“It’s definitely one of the biggest compliments I feel like I’ve received while teaching here,” Sharitz said.
After winning the MHS title, teachers go on to compete for the district, state and later nation. While students are able to nominate teachers for the award, teachers are the only ones able to vote due to the rules of the bigger national and state recognition system. Sharitz said it is a fair way to acknowledge teachers because some teachers may receive more votes due to their larger class sizes, which wouldn’t necessarily show their prestige.
“I love that students get to have a say and get to express what they see from their perspective in the classroom in a day in day out basis,” Sharitz said. “However, you would hate for it to turn into a popularity contest.”
Logan Schmitt, sophomore, said he was not aware of the email regarding the Teacher of the Year nominations because he feels like checking his email is not emphasized enough by the staff.
However, Schmitt said he would consider nominating a teacher because it is important for teachers to be recognized for their efforts.
“It is their everyday job, they deserve to be told they are doing good,” Schmitt said.
He said the opportunity for students to have a say should be more known and advertised throughout MHS.
“Maybe make an announcement,” Schmitt said. “Or make checking your email seem more important to students since I never had a reason to check my email.”
Schmitt said the decision to make the form electronic is definitely more convenient and would also attract more student feedback since it is much more accessible for students.
By the end of February, the voting will be closed and the Teacher of the Year for 2019 will be announced.
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