Announcing the 2019 Waterford Educator Prizes
The Waterford Educator Prize was created in 1995 to honor members of the Faculty for the quality of their teaching and for their professional contributions to their colleagues and the School. Faculty and Staff submit nominations in the Fall, and the winners are announced in December. Each receives a monetary gift toward the pursuit of an interest or a dream that is important to that individual. The winners are asked to speak to their colleagues at the April All Schools Faculty Meeting, reflecting on their teaching — how they came to it, how they keep it vital, and insights they have acquired along the way.
Congratulations to the 2019 winners, named below. We have included for each a snippet from the tribute by Head of School Andrew Menke.
It is startling to realize that Beth has been at Waterford only since the 2000-2001 school year, a mere 19 years and 3 months ago. Could Waterford have ever really existed without her? How did the school manage prior to her arrival? In all the most important ways Beth is Waterford—the one who knows everything and to whom everyone comes for everything, from Bandaids to ping pong paddles to wise words of encouragement and comfort at crucial moments. Calm, cool, and collected in an emergency, Beth is the one you want by your side at a critical moment. Given her position, she is often the first to hear of a family crisis or loss—a responsibility she handles with unfailing grace. Students, parents, and faculty alike cherish Beth’s presence as a source of stability in a world that can sometimes feel like it is spinning out of control. We all trust—and are never disappointed—that, no matter the need, Beth will meet us with a smile and her perpetually repeated question: “How can I help?”
The Middle and Upper School could scarcely survive without Beth’s efficiency and organization. She schedules and reschedules countless meetings with families, students, deans, teachers and even outside support people working with our students. She calls home to track down wayward kids, listening to all the stories parents spin to shield their students from possible consequences, wrangles sometimes unhelpful software systems to generate valuable weekly attendance reports, delivers the mail across campus (often adding playful jokes and commentary to the lucky recipients), pumps up four-square balls and repairs Spikeball nets to facilitate lunch-time play, creates order out of chaos in the Lost and Found closet (spraying liberal doses of air freshener as needed to prevent serious injury to all who must browse the collection), whispers magic to the copy machines to make them continue working, or calls the experts to come on site when magic occasionally fails, leaves comic-absurd decorations in the faculty bathrooms, wields the “claws of death” to remove forgotten-combination-locks from desperate students’ lockers, sees the countless little things that need to be done and quietly and quickly does them, teases us on our birthdays, and generally makes us feel that everything is possible and that all will be well.
Beth is the quiet leader Waterford needs. In her role as Manager of Offices, she supports her colleagues and counterparts across the campus, advocating for them when there is a need, and always providing guidance and direction to make our extraordinary school offices ever better. She embodies all the school values, but especially integrity, responsibility, and caring. We are so grateful that Beth came to Waterford all those years ago, and that she is with us still, inspiring us everyday by her rare example. We are lucky to have her as a friend and colleague.
JoAnne makes everything she does look completely and utterly effortless. Which in and of itself does not stand out until you stop to think that she teaches 15 kindergarten students every. Single. Day. And has done so for the past 12 years. Now, if you haven’t spent much time around kindergarteners, I will remind you that they are delightful. They talk in exceedingly long, complete sentences all of the time. They love to sing, dance, skip, jump, and be silly—and they want your undivided attention when they do it. They also want approval and to be taken seriously. JoAnne is perfect for this job. Smiling and nodding, she listens to the long sentences until her students run out of breath. She generously gives approval, and takes each student seriously. She gives her undivided attention--divided by 15--all while making each student feel special, as if they were the center of the universe. And to JoAnne, they are.
Just like her devotion to her family, JoAnne’s commitment to her work is unparalleled. She spends hours in preparation for teaching her students. If there are cars in the school lot on a Saturday, one of them is very likely to be hers. Her lessons are planned down to the smallest detail, and her classroom conveys a sense of warmth and order, with beautiful seasonal arrangements and every bulletin board hung with precision. The mathematicians here might believe that straight lines do not exist, but go visit JoAnne Price’s room--you’ll find several.
JoAnne is the consummate colleague, understated and kind, always with a ready smile. She thrives on her connections with others--her students, her colleagues, and her family. Her warmth and unconditional positive regard is felt by us all. For those who are still learning the tricks of the trade, JoAnne shares her words of wisdom and advice in a way that makes others feel affirmed, validated, and knowledgeable--never mind that we were the ones seeking advice in the first place. Don’t let JoAnne’s humility belie her intelligence, she can do anything.
JoAnne’s students adore her. In fact, when she is sighted in the hallway by students who have moved beyond her Kindergarten classroom, they are quick to give her a joyful hug. Parents speak about her in hushed and appreciative tones. She values each and every child, and they know it. Once, upon visiting her classroom, I watched as JoAnne asked a misbehaving student to move from the back of the group to join her on the rug at the front of the group. When he refused, she quietly got up, sat down on the floor next to him, and calmly asked the class to turn around and face her, which they all did. Before he knew what had happened, the student found himself at the front of the room with her, just as she had asked. Magic. Though I’ve never seen it, I’m pretty sure she has a high-quality tattoo that says “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
We feel extremely fortunate that we were able to lure JoAnne out of retirement to come back and teach kindergarten. She has touched yet another class of 15, in addition to the countless numbers of students from the past 12 years, and hopefully more as we look ahead. JoAnne, we are extraordinarily fortunate to know you, and to work with you, and to benefit from your effortless and shining example. You have glided back into Lower School with grace, kindness, and poise, and we are all the better for it.
Tim Stout is amazingly understated… and extraordinarily accomplished. He is a devoted life-long learner who completed his doctorate while carrying a full teaching load and then some here at Waterford. Unbelievably dedicated to teaching and learning, Tim serves as a language instructor at UVU throughout the school year. He has written a book about Japanese language instruction. Impressive yes, but perhaps more so is that Tim arrived at Waterford in 2006 to teach Japanese… but after some deliberation… Nancy Heuston asked that we shift to Chinese and Tim, the phenomenal (and adaptable) polyglot that he is, “simply”… learned Chinese. And in the process… developed a “world-class” language course at Waterford.
Tim’s colleagues have deep gratitude and affection for this talented educator and good friend! He is an optimist…a can-do human being with a heart of gold…who sees the immense possibilities in life. Tim is about lifting others up, and never about himself. His focus is always on students and colleagues and his passion and craft as a teacher. He is thoughtful, supportive and kind … gentle, humble and considerate… and so graciously wise… with deep intellect and unflappable patience…and it - your work - teaching, learning, and leading - is never about you!
Tim leads the world language department with unfailing fairness. He is measured, organized and has maintained a steady hand on the tiller of improvement over the years. Tim is diligent and meticulous, patiently problem-solving and assisting when difficulties arise. Tim is the epitome of the servant leader – a man of principle and integrity, a skillful listener who puts the needs of his departmental colleagues first as he works to collaboratively maximize the contributions of all members.
Tim is also a selfless trip leader, traveling extensively with students to China and Japan – where he masterfully, AND safely guided students home after a devastating Tsunami hit in 2011. Tim also supports an abundance of student independent studies.
But more than anything else, Tim is a brilliant, student-centric teacher, believing in students so fully that he holds them to high standards... and demonstrates belief in his student’s ability to achieve excellence…often before they believe in themselves.
I happened to see Tim’s virtuosity just last week in Chinese I. It’s a class of over 20 in a tight space and yet he managed the class brilliantly with all (and I mean every single student) delightedly engaged. Tim has nurtured a climate of engaged “risk-taking,” combining rigor and joy by engendering trust through his authentic love of Chinese. Your confidence in every child in the class was so very empowering. In the 20 minutes I was in the class you provided three different learning pathways inviting all members of the class to stretch to your elevated expectations. I loved how you enthusiastically affirmed effort and gently, yet firmly redirected misguided attempts to write Chinese characters.
You may know this, but Tim has a wonderfully expressive face – your playful smile invites students to “come with you on the learning journey” and your raised eyebrows says, “I believe in you – try it!” I don’t know if this is a cultivated part of your pedagogical repertoire, but it’s brilliant…and oh so inviting…I even shouted out a few words…You smiled a big smile and said “Nice” and gave a big thumbs up…I don’t think the encouragement was for me, yet I could not help but feel energized by it.
Tim, your enthusiasm is contagious, your passion obvious… it is clear you love your work! You create a culture of mutual respect and support in your classroom, and in the process invite students to explore the limits of their capacity. You teach Chinese, but importantly, and inspiringly, so much more.
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 Waterford educator prize.