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Edwards, Giroux named 2011 Tillotson Teaching Fellows

June 23, 2011
BERLIN — Nancy Edwards, fifth-grade teacher at the Canaan School in the Northeast Kingdom, and Michael Giroux, fourth-grade teacher at the Milan Village School, were recognized as this year's Tillotson Teaching Fellows on Monday, June 13, a brief ceremony in the Bistro at White Mountains Community College.

Each was awarded a no-strings-attached $10,000 fellowship award, plus a $2,500 grant to be given in their name to be spent in their classroom and/or school.

"This is special day, the culmination of a several month process and one of the most enjoyable days that I have the privilege of being a part of," said Peter Benson of Jackson, senior program officer for the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation who works in both the North Country and the Lakes Region in his welcoming remarks. "I'm honored to celebrate two extraordinary educators, who are so committed to education and their students."

Edwards grew up in Needham, Mass., graduated from Needham High School in 1973 and earned a B.S. in education at Bridgewater (Mass.) State College. She first taught special education at the Stratford School. In 1983 she taught two years as a special educator at Canaan and then in 1985 switched to become a fifth-grade teacher in a self-contained classroom. She earned a Master's degree in reading from UNH in 1992 also took summer courses to increase her knowledge in math and writing. In 2006 she was recognized for Excellence in Teaching and Devoted Service to Vermont Youth. In 2008 she was named a National Writing Project Fellow at UVM.

Giroux, a Berlin native who graduated from Gorham High School in 1990, graduated in 1995 with a B.A. in elementary education from UMaine-Orono with a concentration in history. He taught for six years at the Gorham Middle School as an enrichment teacher for all 7th and 8th grade students, and is now a fourth grade teacher in Milan. Giroux recently worked with the Woodland's Credit Union to get a credit union unit published which will be made available to elementary schools through a credit union organization. Giroux lives in Berlin with his wife and their young son, Deven.

"The purpose of the Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship was established by Mrs. Tillotson and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation in late 2006," Benson explained. Its purpose, he said, is to help retain good teachers in the North Country, with a preference for teachers in the Cos County public schools. The goal of the Fellowship, he explained, is "to raise awareness of the value of excellence in education by identifying and celebrating one to three extraordinary North Country teachers each year."

Members of the 2011 Advisory Committee were: Benson; WMCC president Kathy Eneguess; SAU #7 Superintendent Bob Mills; Former state school board member Gail Paine of Intervale; District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath; Irene Mosedale, director of the Teacher Certification Program at PSU; NHCF North Country board member Rolanda Duchesne; Colebrook Academy vice principal and math teacher Richard Bond, and first grade Canaan School teacher Judy Jacques. Last year's recipients — Linda Bennion of Whitefield, a primary grades teacher at the Whitefield School; Kristin Brooks of Columbia, the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Colebrook Academy; and Tammy Fauteux of Dummer, a math teacher at Berlin Junior High School — also participated in the four interviews done in one day, Benson said.

All nominees were asked, point blank, he said: "What sets you apart?" Their replies were modest since these men and women did not think of themselves as special. They all, however, Benson said, are passionate about their work which no one considers merely a job, work collaboratively with their colleagues, have good relationships with building administrators, and extend themselves to youth and community well beyond the walls of their classrooms.

Benson said after the ceremony that the Advisory Committee is discussing the possibility of creating a scholarship program that would allow teachers to attend conferences, workshops, programs, or seminars that are too costly for them to attend.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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