Winnisquam Middle School Principal Dr. Pamela Miller (left) presented math teacher Kathy Beliveau with the Winnisquam Regional School Board’s Teacher of the Year award on May 21. Beliveau was honored for her student support, innovative lessons and commitment to education throughout the 27 years she has been teaching at the middle school. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
June 06, 2012TILTON — With some great candidates to select from as the Winnisquam Regional School District's 2012 Teacher of the Year, in the end, it all added up to Middle School math teacher Kathy Beliveau, who was bestowed the honor after the school board's search committee said they received "glowing recommendations" from both students and administration at the school.
"I felt Kathy goes above and beyond as a teacher in all aspects," said WMS Principal Dr. Pamela Miller, who wrote the formal the recommendation. "She assumed a teacher leadership role here at the school, and is well-deserving of the honor."
Beliveau has been at Winnisquam Middle School for 27 years, teaching geometry and general math classes at the eighth grade level, as well as serving as Math Coach and Math Curriculum Leader for the school.
She said she works very hard at her job, and has high expectations of both her students and herself, and won't quit until both meet those expectations.
Over the years, Beliveau has observed that math often gets a "bad rap" from students and believes fear of the subject can be passed on from generation to generation. She often hears students say they don't like math, but they can never say why.
"That makes it a challenge for me to get them past 'I can't' to saying 'I'll try' then 'I did it,'" said Beliveau. "I loved math as a kid, and I love teaching it."
Through the years, she has accumulated a bag of tricks to make math fun, and said she uses them to capture the attention of a class. Some of those tricks are adding music to formulas, like the "Quadraic Formula," which she has students sing to the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel." A fish in her classroom is another mnemonic device to help students remember math.
"The fish is named 'Pemdas' to help them remember the mathematic order of operations," Beliveau said.
She clarified PEMDAS to stand for "parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction."
While Beliveau teaches the older students at WMS, next year, she will be co-teaching in some lower level classes to identify all types of learners and help her fellow teachers develop means to reach those students who may be experiencing difficulty with the subject. Through this outreach, the Middle School is hoping to strengthen math skills that all students can then carry over to the high school level.
"It's not always fun, and students have to master it at every level in order to move on," she said.
Her reward, though, comes when former students come to her and tell her how grateful they are for all she taught them in middle school.
One such student is the current Student Representative to the school board, Emily Lowry, who jumped up to hug Beliveau when she was named Teacher of the Year.
Along with the honor, Beliveau was given the charge of naming one of this year's graduating seniors as the recipient of a $500 scholarship from the school board. She said she immediately had three students in mind, and finally decided upon one who fully embodied the district's mission statement of working to their highest potential. That scholarship will be presented before this weekend's graduation ceremonies.
School board member Julie Lonergan served on the search committee, along with Patricia Sawicki and Tim Lang. The committee's decision to select Beliveau was based on specific criteria for the award, and Lonergan said she embodied everything they sought through her support of learning, district contributions, community involvement/family support, and innovative activities and lessons. They also recognized her for her dedication to her job.
"If you go past the Middle School in the early evening hours and see lights on, you'll usually find Kathy's car in the parking lot while she's still hard at work," said Lonergan.
Beliveau is the second teacher to receive the award, preceded by Nancy Coffin, a special education instructor at Southwick School, who was the inaugural winner. Her name is now being added to the district's Teacher of the Year plaque and will be on display at WMS for the next year.