“For quite a few years now we’ve made a concerted effort to be better about recognizing our staff. We have staff members in all our buildings and grounds and transportation who are doing a wonderful job everyday and we don’t often get to hear about those things,” acting BSCSD Superintendent Denise Jones said.
The recognized staff members include math teacher Laura Brinton and teaching assistant Patty Schafer at the Ballston Spa High School, kindergarten teacher Jennifer Lunman at Gordon Creek Elementary School and school bus attendant Craig Hodgson.
High school math teacher Brinton was recognized for her work supporting struggling students through her role on the response to intervention team and coteaching an introductory algebra class.
According to high school principal Kristi Jensen, Brinton has helped many students improve their academic performance by identifying the root cause of the student’s difficulty, finding solutions for the students and helping other teachers develop classroom strategies to support struggling students.
Brinton also teaches an introductory algebra course that prepares students for the Algebra Regents Exam and helped prepare an additional 25 students this year.
“I know she helped a lot of kids feel better about math, helping them realize that they actually have the skills and can do the work. She put them on a path, so they can have the opportunity to take college level courses while they’re still in high school,” Jensen said.
Jensen went on to recognize another staff member who has advocated for struggling students, Schafer, who was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting.
As a teaching assistant, Schafer implemented the high school’s credit recovery program that enables struggling students to catch up on their schoolwork and aims to set students on a path to graduate with their class.
According to Jensen, Schafer would do whatever she could to motivate students, often baking cookies for them, meeting with them to offer the support they needed to succeed.
Schafer was ahead of the curve in establishing the successful program that drew officials from about 25 local schools to visit and learn more about implementing and carrying out the credit recovery program.
Next, Gordon Creek Elementary School Principal Celeste Keane spoke of kindergarten teacher Jennifer Lunman who she described as a model teacher, as did a parent in a letter to the school thanking Lunman for her tireless work in the classroom.
“Jen is a person that is unpretentious, self-effacing and wants no recognition of any kind. So, out of respect for that I’ve never taken an opportunity, but the confluence of Denise asking for staff recognitions and that parent email made me say this is the time. I’m sorry,” Keane said.
Keane said that Lunman is a master teacher personifying excellence in her search for methods to reach children, observant, persistent and reflective. Lunman develops learning environments uniquely tailored to students, constantly researching the most effective methods to reach students and persisting with each topic until every student in the class has mastered the skill.
The letter Keane received described Lunman’s work and focus on the needs of each specific student, with the parent saying how impressed they were with Lunman’s work.
Keane read aloud from the letter, “She’s a true champion for children and a model for excellence. She contributes to the whole child and I know that children become better citizens after being in her class. When people say that teachers change the world one child at a time they are talking about Jen.”
Finally, the school district recognized school bus attendant Craig Hodgson for his charitable efforts collecting and sending supplies to a school in Puerto Rico that was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Hodgson was a teacher with the school district for 33 years before retiring in 2009, later becoming a school bus attendant for the BSCSD Transportation Department. While working as a teacher, Hodgson had done fundraising to help refurbish a classroom following Hurricane Katrina.
Following news of the devastation caused by hurricanes this year, Hodgson expressed his desire to once again support those who were impacted. A coworker with the transportation department related that his sister works as a teacher for a school in Puerto Rico that lost everything except for the actual school building in the hurricane.
Hodgson was inspired to contact the school, Escuela Segunda Manuel Ruiz Gandia, to offer support in its recovery, receiving lists of needed supplies and seeking donations from members of the transportation department.
Hodgson set up a donation box at the dispatch window for workers to leave supplies and a jar for cash donations to cover the cost of shipping the donated items.
He has shipped 51 flat rate boxes full of over 6,700 items to the school so far and plans to continue sending donations for the remainder of the school year. Hodgson has overseen the project on his own time, inventorying the donated items, packing each box for shipment and covering the cost of postage himself when the cash donations have not covered the full amount.
Hodgson has set up a GoFundMe page seeking donations to help purchase additional supplies and to help cover the cost of shipping the items. The account had received $115 as of Wednesday towards Hodgson’s minimum goal of $1,000. Additional information on the fundraising project for those seeking to contribute can be found HERE.