Ten of the best vie for 2021’s Outstanding Teacher Award
A total of ten teachers are up for the Outstanding Teacher Award organised by the Bermuda Education Network.
They were nominated by colleagues and parents and pupils and teachers were asked to help the judges decide.
All the finalists will receive a cash prize and the winner will also be given a grant for a school project of their choice to be designed and implemented in partnership with BEN thanks to sponsorship from insurance giant Allied World.
BEN provided profiles on the finalists and the winner will be announced in tomorrow’s edition of TheRoyal Gazette.
P1 teacher at Port Royal Primary School
They say it takes a special type of person to be a P1 teacher and Stephanie Correia is living proof of that. Her warmth and compassion shine through as she describes the joyful process of starting young pupils on their educational journey.
Ms Correia immerses her children in a nurturing environment that values learning, helping them to be considerate to others, pay attention and stay focused.
She attributes her success to building relationships which she regards as crucial to a child’s development.
“A huge part of my philosophy and teaching is that if kids don't like you or if they don't trust you, they're not going to learn from you,” Ms Correia said.
Her greatest joy is watching the children gradually learn to help and encourage each other, and pay each other little compliments on their progress.
She said: “It's awesome to watch as the kids learn to love their teachers and love each other.”
Ms Correia said starting the year remotely was difficult and she misses not being in the classroom with her new pupils. However, her years of experience enabled her to lay a social emotional foundation that will allow them to flourish.
Colleagues reveal that Ms Correia was dedicated to keeping in touch with the children during the lockdown, often going to their homes to deliver resources and providing extra support.
She is also known for her work as Port Royal’s “champion for science”. As Science Teacher Leader at the school, she has promoted inquiry-based learning and critical thinking skills at all levels.
One of her goals is to source more classroom equipment for other teachers for hands-on learning.
Ms Correia inspires others with her passion of teaching, people and learning.
P6 teacher and deputy principal at St David’s Primary School
A veteran of 27 years, Andrea Isaac fulfils many roles as a leader in her classroom, school and community.
Ms Isaac has made a positive impact for generations of pupils during her service at Victor Scott Primary School and St David’s Primary School.
She is a master of classroom management techniques who ensures that her pupils are in a positive learning space.
The need for compassionate teaching has come to the fore during the pandemic so her kind and caring nature has made a tremendous difference.
Devoted to her pupils during remote learning, Ms Isaac was open to different strategies, implementing new technology and keeping in touch.
She jumped on board the Schoology learning management system as well as an online literacy programme for tracking her pupils’ progress.
As deputy principal she organised an outdoor graduation last year and helped to support other members of the teaching team.
Working with pupils whose families are dealing with multiple types of stress requires a deep understanding of social emotional learning.
Ms Isaac says teaching pupils to be kind to each other cannot be done in a vacuum – she is mindful of the need to always model respectful interactions with colleagues and respect the community, making sure that families feel heard.
Her dedication to supporting families is further evidenced by her long-standing involvement with the Continental Society of Bermuda which helps families in need. She is an active member and organises its annual Mother of the Year essay contest.
Her experience has shown that a warm and trusting relationship with parents is key to the home/school partnership.
Pupils absorb these principles and it contributes to a positive classroom environment where everyone plays a part and takes responsibility for learning together.
P5 teacher at St George’s Preparatory School:
Known for her willingness to go above and beyond to support St George’s Preparatory School, Florence Brown is a valued member of her team. Ms Brown refers to the importance of adaptability and receiving feedback while her teaching philosophy emphasises building relationships.
One colleague said: “She spends much time connecting with pupils and developing a classroom built on mutual respect. The pupils know that she truly cares about them and the parents know that she is there to support them too.”
Building a positive classroom culture is both a science and an art that Ms Brown is deeply committed to. She has a Master's degree in Education with a focus on restorative practice. At its heart, this means teaching children to have the tools for respectful and meaningful communication.
In Ms Brown’s class, this involves daily “discussion circles” and the reinforcement of positive dialogue.
She shares her expertise on restorative practices and recently led a school professional development workshop.
Remote learning presented challenges but she found a way to incorporate circle discussions, as well as lively videos, during virtual lessons.
A leader who embodies the shift from the “sage on the stage” model of teaching to the “educator as facilitator”, she says: “The ability to understand that you make mistakes is important and to listen to everyone around you because I think the only way you can become a really good teacher is by actually being unafraid of messing up.
“I've messed up thousands of times but I’ve learnt to welcome feedback and to really listen to it and act on it.”
Business Studies teacher and deputy principal at Clearwater Middle School
Dean Foggo entered teaching after a career in banking and gained a Master’s degree in Business Education at Alabama A&M University. He also earned a post graduate certificate in School Management and Leadership from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in Massachusetts. For nearly 20 years he has dedicated himself to enhancing the educational experience for students at Clearwater Middle School.
Colleagues remark on his “can do” attitude and turn to him as a source of imaginative ideas for how to push the boundaries of students’ learning experiences.
“Mr Foggo’s learning space is vibrant, colourful and electric,” said one colleague. “It is the place in which ideas come to life, creativity is welcomed and values are enhanced.”
His students love his sense of humour and fatherly care. The contribution he makes to school morale is beyond doubt as his colleagues attest to his willingness to assist, mentor and advise.
His popularity with colleagues was also evident from the high number of letters we received from others at Clearwater who wanted to support his nomination for these awards.
Mr Foggo is best known for coming up with ingenious and fun ideas to engage students – often with the added outcome of laughter which undoubtedly contributes to the close knit community at Clearwater.
On one occasion he mysteriously requested that colleagues hand over their waste bins. His class was challenged to inspect the trash that had been discarded by other staff members and try to deduce which staff member had discarded which garbage items. His colleague said: “Later, students ran into my classroom smiling and commenting about my trash!”
One colleague said: “When I think of a teacher with incredible stamina, personality, integrity and passion, Mr Foggo is a force of epic consideration. His reputation and longevity in education has transcended generations of young people in middle and high school.”
Vernon Lambe III
Physical Education and Health teacher at Whitney Institute Middle School
Mr Lambe is a phenomenal coach and mentor at Whitney Institute Middle School who, for the past 12 years, has successfully steered many students in a positive direction through sport.
As the grandson of a well-known minister, he inherited a gift for “pastoral care” and is known for his compassion. Colleagues note that he often buys lunch and clothing for students.
“He has a true passion for making positive change in the lives of students who may otherwise not have the opportunity,” one said.
Mr Lambe plays a broader role in his school and is highly appreciated by his colleagues in the counselling and educational therapy department for his help with mentoring at-risk students. He is called upon to provide much needed “pep talks” and to encourage boys to stay engaged in school and to consider higher education and sports programmes.
In the PE department he is known for creating fun and creative lessons, and his enthusiasm for football and basketball is infectious.
At Whitney he has been instrumental in helping dozens of students get into programmes and annually escorts talented students to sports trials and camps. Those who want to pursue professional sports are put through a challenging physical regime. For many young people whom Mr Lambe has taken under his wing, this positive influence has been transformational, helping them to learn how to accept setbacks and build resilience.
He sets high standards but if students are willing to push themselves, they know they will have someone in their corner who believes in them.
As one colleague put it: “He loves to see young men tap into their potential, especially the ones people thought were a lost cause.”
Winsom Wilson Place
A leader at Somerset Primary School
Winsom Wilson Place is an exceptional primary schoolteacher who consistently supports the individual needs of her pupils while setting high standards for behaviour and learning.
She is part of the leadership team at Somerset Primary School with responsibility for maths. She has also been supporting colleagues with new platforms including Dreambox, Method Math and Math flows.
It was greatly appreciated by her colleagues when she took the lead in trouble shooting challenges with these new programmes and modelled ways to get the most out of them.
Ms Wilson Place is known for her outstanding classroom management and while participating in BEN’s Horizons programme she earned the distinction of always having the most well-behaved pupils on field trips.
She is also known for being an expert at differentiation – she starts where the learners are and works with them within their personal zones of development.
In the summer, she and another teacher at Somerset Primary run a wonderfully creative and nurturing camp for pupils.
A lifelong learner, Ms Wilson Place has put time, effort and personal funds into gaining her Master's degree online this year.
Functional Skills teacher at Prospect Primary School
Kendra Lightbourne is a special-education teacher with close to 20 years’ experience. Her dedication to pupils encapsulates the values of these awards – leadership, exceptional teaching ability and commitment to supporting children academically and emotionally.
Her commitment to supporting other educators is also evident. Colleagues describe her as a team player who is conscientious and empathetic. One said: “She has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages and is a loyal, honest, considerate, and supportive individual.”
Ms Lightbourne creates relationships with children that are built on the full understanding of their needs and the many factors which contribute to learning differences.
“I believe in stepping in and getting to the heart of their issues, treating each child as an individual and assisting parents so their child can perform successfully,” she said.
Ms Lightbourne, who also worked at Dellwood Middle School, created a hybrid programme there so that students with mild intellectual disabilities could be part of the Cambridge or City and Guilds classes. Over the years she has taught students with Cerebral Palsy, visual impairments, ADHD and/or dyslexia as well as those with intellectual disabilities.
“I make my lessons as multisensory as possible to try to reach all the learning modalities,” she said. “Within lessons I try to incorporate music, videos, movement and hands-on activities as well as create mnemonics to help pupils remember and apply information. In addition, I try to use technology as much as I can.”
This year Ms Lightbourne is providing Functional Skills lessons for primary-age pupils – identified by educators as being crucially needed within the public school system.
Head of Maths at The Berkeley Institute
Troy King was persuaded to give teaching a try in his native Barbados and turned out to be a natural. Now in his 17th year of teaching and his 11th year at The Berkeley Institute, the Maths Department head is a well-liked and respected member of the faculty.
As the manager of eight colleagues, he is calm and modest. He is proud of how his team collaborated during remote learning and adapted their walk-in tutoring programme to an online format where teachers took turns to offer one-on-one or small group tuition.
Asked about the role of educational technology, he said online learning tools like Khan Academy are useful but cannot replace the ability of a skilful teacher to deftly respond to an interesting question with a switch in direction or an alternative explanation.
“The beauty about teaching is expecting the unexpected,” he said.
His philosophy of teaching is scientific – teachers must appreciate each student’s needs, know where they are on the learning continuum, identify appropriate goals using their baseline data and measure their growth.
He explained: “It is not a one size fits all.”
Mr King speaks passionately about the need for different options beyond academic courses and has been a big proponent for the availability of City and Guilds which includes vocational and technical qualifications.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, he was investigating the possibility of an after-school club which would use a more hands-on approach, and has been inspired by the STEAM programme cofounded by Berkeley alumni, and fellow Math teacher Kyrsten Burrows.
“Students who don’t excel in the traditional classroom setting can do very well if they can see real-life applications, so more activities like robotics and circuitry are great for boosting engagement.”
Mr King is highly perceptive and can understand both individual students’ needs and the wider needs of his school. He is a teacher with vision and integrity and a great credit to his school.
Instructional leader for the arts at CedarBridge Academy:
Patricia Nesbitt is a leading light in Bermuda’s vibrant performing arts scene. She has written, produced and directed a host of theatre productions and was one of the hosts of the T Talk show on Bermuda’s cable channel 82.
CedarBridge students have been fortunate to have a highly experienced theatre professional as a drama teacher and director for nearly 15 years.
As the instructional leader for the arts at CedarBridge Academy, Ms Nesbitt leads a team of music, visual arts, dance and media teachers while continuing to pursue her own creative endeavours. While theatre will always be a highly-competitive field, it is important that youth in Bermuda meet charismatic role models who can help them to have the confidence to showcase their talents.
As a teacher, Ms Nesbitt gives her students exposure and confidence as well as giving them a “voice”.
She has made an enormous contribution through the formation of the Noire Theatre Company at CedarBridge. It has given students the opportunity to produce and star in high quality performances including Bermudian historical dramas The Mary Prince Story and The Sally Bassett Story.
Ms Nesbitt makes sure no one is excluded from participating and supports students with severe learning differences. Those who don’t want to be on the stage have been persuaded to learn about stage production, lighting and sound.
During the pandemic, when it was impossible to do stage productions, Ms Nesbitt found innovative ways for the show to go on. Students created their own television show which was broadcast on channel 82 and they also took part as radio hosts on the Teacher Talk radio show on Magic 102.7.
She is working on a cultural showcase for St George’s and continues to encourage her protégés to write and publish their own pieces.
P6 teacher and deputy principal at East End Primary School
Makeba Stowe is known as a teacher with a heart of gold and a gift for connecting with children. Her motto for teaching is “ABCD” which stands for “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty”.
She began teaching at Somerset Primary 26 years ago. Early in her career, social services came to her with an emergency – one of the pupils in her class was being taken away from her family and needed a foster parent.
“They said it’s only for six weeks …” Ms Stowe recalled. “Then the six weeks turned into two months and then other issues came up so she stayed with me and became my daughter. Here we are 20 years later and she just got married.”
Ms Stowe’s personal journey reflects the reality that being a teacher often involves being a counsellor, parent and social worker as well as teaching.
Now a highly-respected veteran teacher at East End Primary School, Ms Stowe sees a need for leaders in the system who are not afraid to have honest conversations with colleagues.
“I find that a lot of people avoid giving constructive criticism but as leaders we need to draw a line between personal and professional,” she said.
Her starting point for helping pupils is building a respectful relationship with parents. From there she can really make a difference for the child by identifying the level of challenges they are experiencing and occasionally advocating for additional services.
Ms Stowe is very passionate about giving pupils what they need, rather than just giving everyone equal treatment.
“I have never had a class where all students are at the same level,” she said. “I always try to achieve equity by pinpointing what each individual child needs to make sure they reach their goals.”