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Joyce Endee

Stand out staff members recognized by state association

GMS staff members Beth Zimmer, Barbara Strohm, and Beth DeVivo stand with their well earned awards following a recognition dinner held by the NHAMLE. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
May 18, 2011
Parents can rest assured that Gilford Middle School is equipped with caring, effective staff members, considering three faculty members received separate awards of recognition this year, presented by the New Hampshire Association of Middle Level Education.

Gilford recipients acknowledged at the NHAMLE's awards dinner this May include seventh grade math teacher Barbara Strohm, fifth and sixth grade guidance counselor Beth Zimmer, and eighth grade paraprofessional Beth DeVivo.

Strohm has devoted her life to teaching for the past 28 years at GMS, and said she was shocked, yet pleasantly surprised to hear she was nominated by her own principal, Marcia Ross.

"The recipient does not have to be a teacher, but anyone in the school system. The award is a form of recognition for all the services recipients have contributed over the past years," said Strohm. "All three Gilford nominees made it through the process and ended up being recognized at the dinner, out of 75 other recipients in New Hampshire."

She added that other local school district employees also received recognition at the NHAMLE awards dinner on May 5 in Manchester, including six faculty members from Gilmanton Elementary School.

Strohm was nominated and acknowledged for her hard work as a math teacher over the past few decades at GMS, yet she also goes above and beyond what is expected of her, from fundraising events such as the Box Tops for Education to her role as a team leader for years. For the past five years, she and her "mathletes" have also helped raise $2,500 in all for St. Jude.

"I felt really privileged to be singled out. It's nice to be noticed for the things you do. I was shocked, but it was a nice surprise," said Strohm. "I just like GMS for its small school atmosphere. I like the staff, my team, and the numbers in the seventh grade have been very enjoyable."

Paraprofessional DeVivo has spent her entire career at GMS, 19 years in all, and couldn't imagine working anywhere else. She believes she was nominated by her colleagues because she is a good role model to children and adults alike.

"I put my best efforts forward to make sure all students succeed and go the extra mile. I love what I do, and I enjoy coming to work," said DeVivo. "Everyone here is just so willing to help you learn and grow. I can't say enough about the people here. I wish I could have shared this award with many of them."

DeVivo is also involved with the community, a founding member of the Gilford School District PTA, and was president of the Boosters Club for many years.

"It meant a great deal to me. It shows that what I do is important, and that kids have benefitted from it. To see a kid's success, no matter how little, really makes my day," said DeVivo. "This award also makes me feel valued as a GMS employee."

During the awards night, DeVivo described the experience as "heartwarming," and felt fortunate enough to be surrounded by her family in the audience and fellow school staff members from all over New Hampshire.

Guidance counselor Zimmer said she would also like to share this award with her staff members, since she feels it takes a team effort to build student success and create a positive atmosphere at GMS.

Zimmer is constantly working with students, whether in her office, during student council meetings and events, or during after school hours, giving students the chance to try different activities, such as rock wall climbing, biking, and photography.

She shares a close bond with her colleague who nominated her, and feels that teamwork and problem solving are key factors when it comes to student success, which she advocated for in her position as principal at several different schools. She also feels that the student must always come first.

"I've been in education for over 30 years. I've taught at all levels; I've been a special education teacher and a principal at two schools. Middle school is my favorite age group. I am energized by them, and feel I can make a difference," said Zimmer. "I really get a lot of enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment working with these students. It's incredibly rewarding to know I helped make their life a little better."

She is flattered to receive the award, yet wishes she could extend the award to other deserving staff members at GMS in roles of the superintendent, administrators, and the teachers, who help make her job as effective as it is.

Zimmer was also surprised to receive a handful of flowers and cards after receiving her award. The response from the greater community only makes her job seem more worthwhile.

Martin Lord Osman
Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
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