Unsung Hero: Helen O’Neill

Helen inspired me to become an urban special educator for students in behavior disabilities classrooms.

I have since moved into graduate research and am preparing to receive a doctorate from NYU in urban education, focusing on injustices in classification and service provision to students in behavior disabilities programs.

Helen served the city of Newark for more than 30 years teaching some of its most under-served students and loving every day of it.

She is an educational champion, an everyday social justice hero, an amazing positive role model, an indomitable spirit, and a valued mentor.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Helen an outstanding educator?

  1. Dedication to all students.
  2. Passion for serving students with emotional and behavioral challenges.
  3. Fierce advocate for student rights.
  4. Empathetic nature.
  5. Humility about her impact on students’ lives.

Helen O’Neill, Retired & Substitute Teacher, is being recognized by Evan Johnston (New York University).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Helen, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Valerie Brown

I was Ms. Brown’s first student teacher in her fifth grade science class.

Up to that point, I didn’t know what grade level I wanted to teach, but after two days with Ms. Brown, I was hooked on fifth grade.

I was supposed to be there for ten weeks, jumping in to teach my own lessons about halfway through. Ms. Brown had so much confidence in me, that by week two, I was leading the class!

Her quiet guidance, mental strength, and spot-on wisdom helped me complete my ten week placement with flying colors.

She encouraged, coaxed, cajoled and even fussed at me the whole way through and I loved every minute of it. I wanted to continue teaching with her in the fifth grade, but there were no positions open. Before the end of the school year, I was offered a position at a neighboring school…in the fifth grade!

Believe me, the lessons Ms. Brown taught me about myself and about education were part of my daily routine.

Currently, I am an assistant principal in a K-5 building, working on my Ed.D. in education.

I am convinced that my experiences with Ms. Brown helped me to become the educator that I am.

And, for the past 19 years, I have always been thankful that she believed in me enough for me to believe in myself.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Valerie an outstanding educator?

  1. The courage to be herself and to help others stand in their own truths.
  2. A true belief that positive relationships—not rules—can change the life of a child.
  3. The ability to not take life so seriously and laugh! It is refreshing!
  4. A warm personality that makes even the toughest students trust her implicitly.
  5. A hard-earned wisdom about life and love that transcends any lesson plans.

Valerie Brown, Teacher at Julian Middle School, is being recognized by Saundra Russell-Smith (Assistant Principal, Singleton Elementary School).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Valerie, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Janice Regan

Besides being my mother, Janice has an amazing way of connecting with her students and helping them see the best parts of themselves.

She helps students who struggle in her class (math) see that they can do the work if they are willing to put in hard work themselves. She does not give up on her students and goes above and beyond to serve them.

As a child, I can remember her collecting clothing for students who were in need and providing them with materials for the classroom when their families weren’t able to.

She is always respectful to her students even when they do not show her the same respect; and, because of that, students who are not even her students know her to be fair and a great teacher!

There are many times we are out and about and old students come up to thank her for all she did for them.

She is the reason I became a teacher.

She showed me how amazing it is to teach and the possibilities that lie within this field. I could truly not ask for a better mother or mentor!

Janice Regan (L) with daughter Caitlin Regan (R)

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Janice an outstanding educator?

  1. Fair
  2. Caring
  3. Generous
  4. Respectful
  5. Selfless

Janice Regan, Teacher at Sampson G. Smith School, is being recognized by her daughter, Caitlin Regan (Seton Hall University).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Janice, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Dawn Dennis

I was one of those smart under-performing students who loved to learn but didn’t see the value in busywork.

As a first grader, I worked the system to get by with as little work as possible and entered second grade pretty jaded for a bespectacled six year old.

But Mrs. Dennis didn’t stand for my nonsense, and she didn’t judge me by my record.

Instead, she challenged me and accommodated me so neatly that I loved school in second grade.

She let me skip the practice rows on worksheets and just do the challenges. When I finished early in math she gave me tangrams or “helper jobs” instead of more busywork. She encouraged me to read books that were challenging (and way higher levels than second grade).

The best part was that she didn’t single me out; she was like that for all of her studentsloving on us and always encouraging us to do our best.

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Dawn an outstanding educator?

  1. Unending patience;
  2. She never raised her voice;
  3. Outside-the-box engagement;
  4. Age-appropriate challenges; and
  5. Passionate and enthusiastic about learning.

Dawn Dennis, Teacher at Allen Elementary, is being recognized by SarahJean Meyer (Eastern Michigan University).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Dawn, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Hope Conover

Mrs. Conover served as a mentor to me through high school. She is also willing to listen, and she has kept in contact with me to encourage me since high school.

Mrs. Conover was never directly my teacher in a classroom, but I was part of her club in high school: Student Council. She spent hours after school making decorations and donating her time to make our school even better. Mrs.

Conover even included her family in the love of us students. To make sure we could have a Football Homecoming Parade in 2013, her and I (with her kids and my siblings) walked the entire parade route the summer before classes began, getting the written permission from businesses along the route.

Her dedication and giving of her time and effort is not limited by the school bells or school calendar. She is student-centered year-round.

When I was in high school, I was getting sick before a big week of tests and events for student council. Mrs. Conover brought me a gallon of Sunny D to “give me vitamin C.”

She cared enough to bring vitamin C in a tasty form when I was sick, but she also cared enough to listen with open ears when myself or other students were having issues at home. Though she could not fix most of our problems, she heard us, she encouraged us, and we never left without a hug.

Now, I am so excited to have Mrs. Conover as one of my colleagues next year as I enter my first teaching job.

Hope Conover, Poplar Bluff High School

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Hope an outstanding educator?

  1. Dedicated
  2. Willing to listen OPENLY
  3. Encouraging
  4. Caring
  5. Giving

Hope Conover, Teacher at Poplar Bluff High School, is being recognized by Jennie Caswell (Student, College of the Ozarks).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Hope, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Mary Robison

Mary Robison has proof that she is transformative in helping children grow and self-actualize.

Scores of them are in contact with her from across the years giving thanks and testimony to the ways in which Mary’s robust self-efficacy in certainty that she can help kids grow becomes a wonderful contagion in her class.

Mary’s students learn that they can learn anything they want to learn and will pursue. She introduces each child to his or her own wonders of intellect, awareness, and passion for learning.

She causes a fervent love of reading, multiple lifeskills, science acumen, and an inoculation against boredom with history by making those human stories come alive and resonate with today.

Best of all, Mary Robison instills an unshakable sense of confidence in children because she models it daily while bridging them to the hardest, best work they have ever done.

Mary Robison, Westfield Intermediate School

What are 5 characteristics or qualities that make Mary an outstanding educator?

  1. Individualized perception of each child in her care.
  2. Novelty is everywhere in the lessons she creates. It truly is remarkable and memorable.
  3. Compassion drives her core, and she infuses her classes with deep, safe, caring collaboration that supercharges all learning while being time efficient and magnifying of her own self-efficacy.
  4. Authentic tasks, external experts and audiences for student work/exhibition, and a direct, genuine dialogue with students and parents about the lofty goals for their time together.
  5. Unavoidably contagious enthusiasm for all learning and all learners’ interests that can be brought to bear in getting them and keeping them engaged.

Mary Robison, Teacher at Westfield Intermediate School, is being recognized by Scott Robison (Superintendent, Zionsville Community Schools).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Mary, make a tax-deductible donation today.

Unsung Hero: Kimberly Judice

Mrs. Kim has always inspired me to keep learning and keep trying even when the math (and life) got a little tough.

She would explain math in a way that made sense, and when it didn’t, she would have another way of explaining at the ready.

I remember one day when the calculus class was discussing career options and I had been struggling with my decision of wanting to teach, Mrs. Kim helped me realize that teaching really could be ideal for me.

Even after graduation, I keep in touch with Mrs. Kim, and she always asks how school is going and encourages me to keep going.

I had several teachers tell me not to even waste my time becoming a teacher and that it is not worth it, but Mrs. Kim never did.

She really an amazing teacher who continues to care even after the student leaves her classroom.

Kimberly Judice, Math Teacher at Loreauville High School is being recognized by Emilie Broussard (University of Louisiana at Lafayette).

Click the above image for more information about Unsung Hero Week 2017.

To support KDP’s work to retain effective teachers like Kimberly, make a tax-deductible donation today.