Area school districts honored their brightest and best teachers when they recently named their 2008-2009 District Teachers of the Year. From third grade reading to high school biology, the winners run the gamut, but all have the ability to reach their students inside and outside of academics and bring out hidden potential.


    Area school districts honored their brightest and best teachers when they recently named their 2008-2009 District Teachers of the Year. From third grade reading to high school biology, the winners run the gamut, but all have the ability to reach their students inside and outside of academics and bring out hidden potential.
    Cherie Bergold, a reading support teacher for grades three to five at W.B. Simpson Elementary, said the “blue ribbon” part of her job comes years later, when an older student stops back into the school to say thank you.
    The Caesar Rodney school district teacher, who has worked in reading support since 2001, said she enjoys seeing the bigger picture because she gets to go into so many different classes throughout the school. Bergold either “pulls” students who need additional reading help out from their normal classes or “pushes” herself into regular classrooms as extra support.
    She counts the best lessons for students as the ones where they don’t realize how hard they are working and then start to use their new skills independently. She said in her current job, she really gets to see struggling readers go through large growth.
    “You get to see them blossom,” Bergold said.
    At the same time, she can get frustrated when things don’t work out, at first, because every kid is different and it often is challenging to find the right method to reach them.
    Capital’s Teacher of the Year, Janice Hadley, shares that same frustration. She tries to find the right solution for each child whether it’s academic or social, but it’s not easy.
    “You wish you had the magic cure to resolve some of the issues they have,” she said.
    Hadley teaches third grade at Fairview Elementary in a looping system. This means she has the same students for both third and fourth grade, before starting back to third two years later. It’s a system she enjoys because she gets a chance to really know her students.
    She likes to let the children know there is someone available to mentor them and look after them outside of their home life. Her students might describe her as funny and happy, she said, but they know she cares for them outside as well as inside of school and is willing to listen.
    Hadley also has high expectations and goals because students need high standards to reach for.
    “When they make that and they stretch, then we celebrate,” she said. At the same time when they fail, she helps them understand it doesn’t make them less of a person.
    Ginny Terczak, the District Teacher of the Year for Polytech, also helps her students recognize their value. She has the desire to not just help kids reach their potential in academic areas but to get them to understand their value as individual people.
    Terczak, a veteran of 28 years of in the profession, teaches English and biology in a regular and special education setting. She bonds with kids quickly and builds trust and confidence with them, while trying hard to vary her lessons and interest the students.
    “My motto is ‘If I’m bored, they’re bored,’” she said.
    Like the other two top teachers, Terczak’s biggest struggle comes from meeting all of the students’ needs.
    Down the road at Lake Forest’s Central Elementary School, the winner of the district’s teacher of the year is no surprise with signs up and down the hallway and an enlarged photo of music teacher Mark Teesdale pasted on top of a hand-drawn body. The artwork has a speech bubble that says, “Who’s your music man now.”
    Teesdale said it’s that kind of support that makes his job so great after 25 years in education. He’s worked for the past seven years at the school teaching fifth and sixth grade general music, running the chorus program for the school and helping out with many of the high school drama productions.
    He enjoys proving to the students and himself that they are able to take difficult two or three part harmony songs and perform them so well. His enthusiasm must be catching because more than half the school is in chorus and band.
    “We’re so proud of that,” Teesdale said. “It’s cool to be in chorus.”
    Bergold, Hadley, Teesdale and Terczak now go up against the rest of the state school districts’ Teachers of the Year for Delaware Teacher of the Year honors. The winner will be announced in the fall.