Winnisquam Regional School District officials announced last week that the 2018 Teacher of the Year was Karen Dow of Southwick School. From left to right are School Board members Tarra LaChappelle and Julie Lonergan, Superintendent Dr. Tammy Davis, Southwick teacher Donna Burbank who made the nomination, Dow, Southwick Principal Dr. Eric Keck and WRSD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Pamela Miller. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 09, 2018NORTHFIELD — Boys and girls at Southwick School were thrilled last week to learn that Karen Dow, their reading specialist, was named the Winnisquam Regional School District's Teacher of the Year while perhaps the only one who was really surprised was Dow herself.
"Does anyone know what the word 'overwhelmed' means?" she said as she came forward to accept the honor from representatives of the school board and administration.
School board members Tarra LaChappelle and Julie Lonergan gave Southwick students some hints as they worked their way up to the announcement at a special assembly last Tuesday. Among the words used by those who nominated Dow were "professional," "inspiring," "top notch at instructional practice" and "makes our community a better place."
Chappelle said this year's winner is known for many things. She was instrumental in organizing and interpreting school wide data, earning the nickname of "Data Queen." She has also been called "The Clarifier" and, during recess time, she is lovingly known as "The Referee." Working in the summer as a mobile librarian, she does what is best for the students at all times and even purchased sleds, buckets and shovels for winter recess activities.
Lonergan added that this Teacher of the Year created a welcoming resource room at Southwick School, has been known to "break out in song and dance to help students understand a concept," and most of all, "Makes every child in this building feel like a Rock Star."
The school gym erupted in cheers from students and teachers alike and Dow suddenly realized why her husband had dropped by the school that afternoon.
"I should have known something was up when he came in with clean work clothes on," she later joked.
Dow has been with Winnisquam Regional School District for 24 years, the last 12 of which have been at Southwick as their Reading Specialist. Prior to that she also worked at Union-Sanborn School and Winnisquam Middle School.
"Today, I just read some beautiful comments and a letter children wrote about Southwick School, and that just makes my whole life worth it to work here as a teacher. Now let's all go celebrate with a little recess," she told the boys and girls.
The district has been selecting an outstanding teacher in the district for eight years now, recognizing those who have stood out among their co-workers for contributions to children and education. A plaque that bears the name of all past recipients, along with Dow's, will hang at Southwick School for the next year in honor of her recognition for 2018. Dow will also get to select a member of this year's graduating class at Winnisquam Regional High School who will be awarded with a $500 scholarship.