Megan Szabo has known for a long time that behind every great person “is a whole school of exhausted teachers that got them to that point.”
Her statement was reinforced last night when she was named Delaware’s teacher of the year. Szabo, who is a Caesar Rodney School District science teacher at Postlethwait Middle School, was as excited as she was humble when Gov. Jack Markell made the announcement at the Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center Tuesday night.
“I totally believe we have the most important job in the world,” said Szabo, as a thunderous applause filled the room
She was one out of 20 teachers to be nominated for the prestigious award, and is the 51st teacher to win the awards since it started in 1965. In recognition of her accomplishments she is receiving a $5,000 grant to use for the education of her students and an additional personal grant of $5,000. The process of becoming teacher of the year starts with a nomination. According to Caesar Rodney School District Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald it could be a teacher, administrator, or a student. This time it was a student who nominated the eventual victor.
“The student was even in the classroom when we named her district teacher of the year,” Fitzgerald said.
The road to victory was predestined for Szabo, although she admits to putting up a fight when it came to deciding her future.
“Both of my parents were teachers,” Szabo said. “I fought it for a long time but it’s kind of in my genes a little bit.”
U.S. Senator Thomas Carper couldn’t agree more. He was one the speakers that listed the benefits and attributes that make a good teacher. And although he commends the teachers who were nominated he made a point to acknowledge the people that helped them.
“While we celebrate the teacher of the year for each of our districts we also celebrate those who raised them and instilled the values and a love for teaching in their children,” Carper said
All of her supporters agree one of Szabo’s strongest traits is her ability to make science fun for her students. She said her driving force is taking her passion and using motivating kids to want to learn.
“The best way for my students to really learn science is to experience it themselves,” Szabo said.
Derek Prillamane is the principal at the school where Szabo teaches. His admiration was aimed at the amount of heart she brings to the profession.
“The energy you saw on stage, which was pretty spontaneous, is how Megan teaches and speaks to her children,” Prillamane said. “On top of that love and concern for kids also is a very very intelligent and very driven professional educator.”
In addition to her grants Szabo will receive an educational technology package valued at $18,000 from the SMART Technologies, ULC, and a $1,000 grant for educational use from the American Institute for Research, a doctorate program from Wilmington University and University of Delaware, a gold watch from the Delaware State Teachers of the Year Association, and a 10-karot gold ring from Jostens.
In light of the awards Szabo receives with her victory the challenges that come with being a teacher are many. But she said overcoming them is easy.
“Do what you love every day,” Szabo said “Find something every day that makes you glad that you were a teacher, it’ll give you the extra drive and energy that you need.”