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Award-winning teachers to serve as role models (Video)




Ten award-winning CMSD teachers are reaping well-deserved congratulations. They also are planning ways to share their methods with peers across the District.

Recipients of the second annual Excellence in Teaching Awards were honored Thursday with a gala in the Ballroom at Park Lane.

Excellence in Teaching is a partnership between CMSD, the Cleveland Teachers Union and the Cleveland and George Gund foundations. In addition to the award, the winning teachers each get $5,000.

The winners, who were announced in early October, are: 

  • Dean Bryson, ninth-grade physical science, New Tech Collinwood
  • Mary deVille, fourth-grade math, Euclid Park School
  • Tonya Dunlap, first- and second-grade special education, Buhrer Dual Language Academy
  • Catherine Duplisea, kindergarten, Orchard School
  • Kirsten Fischer, sixth- through eight-grade English language arts, Scranton School
  • Andrea Kitchen, kindergarten, Louisa May Alcott School
  • Jason Levy, fourth- through eighth-grade music, Campus International K-8
  • Rita Mikita, ninth-grade science, MC²STEM High School
  • Alexis Pohlman, sixth- through eighth-grade math, Louis Agassiz School
  • Jordan Siegler, fourth- through eighth-grade English language arts and science, Charles Dickens School

The program is designed to recognize outstanding teachers and inspire others to follow their lead. The award winners share their practices with others through means such as posting sample lessons online, leading professional development and opening their classrooms for observation.

Bryson will show colleagues how he interprets and tracks data to tailor instruction and uses “backwards planning” to align lessons with standards. He also will tell how he creates “authentic and engaging projects” for students.

DeVille will devise ways to convey her philosophy “that all children are expected to grow.” She meets them at their level, sees that everyone participates and presents multiple ways to solve problems.

“They know that it is OK to make a mistake, we all do,” deVille said. “I try to make the math fun, through various activities and make it relevant to real life.  Most of the scholars learn to love math as much as I do.”

Duplisea already leads professional development in best practices and integration of technology in preschool through third grade.  She will soon launch a website  to share hands-on and interactive ways for children to "play to learn."

“I have compiled a gallery of standards-based gamelike work with descriptions for my fellow educators to peruse for ideas,” she said. "I find great satisfaction in bringing the joy back into the world of education.”   

Siegler said she probably will focus on classroom engagement techniques, building student relationships and effective use of technology in the classroom.

Fischer and 2016 winner Molly Gus will continue to present their "Middle School Learning Centers” program in Cleveland and other districts and at conferences.

The program uses multiple instructional strategies to meet the needs of all students in a middle school classroom. The teachers have a website that can be found here.

Tonya Dunlap is considering sharing options that include teaching sight words using pictures and movement, having children use a “reading toolbox” to connect and question text and teaching vocabulary in two languages with the help of peer conversation, pictures and kinesthetic learning.

Levy hopes to show teachers how to spread the love of music, regardless of whether they have a fully equipped music room or limited resources that are moved through the school on a cart.

“On a weekly basis my lessons include African drumming, xylophones, body percussion, singing and creative movement,” he said. “I would love to have a professional development session after school, possibly at my building, where I could share two or three short activities that music teachers could take back to their classroom and use immediately.”  

The awards go to teachers who demonstrate instructional expertise, creativity and innovation in their classrooms, make learning engaging, vibrant and relevant for students and set a standard of excellence for all teachers.

Peers, principals and academic staff nominated 239 teachers from 86 schools. Nominees had to apply and obtain endorsements from a principal and a colleague.

Reviewers representing K-12 and higher education, philanthropy, business, civic leaders and the community screened applications that had the names redacted.

See last year's winners here.