WEAC – Badgers Outstanding Educator: Dawn Perkins, Unity Education Association

Dawn Perkins, a member of the Unity Education Association and eighth grade math teacher, is the latest recipient of the WEAC-Badgers Outstanding Educator Award.

Perkins, who is married to Unity EA member-teacher Shawn Perkins, has worked as a teacher and school volleyball coach for 25 years. She will be honored by the sold-out crowd at the October 19 UW-Badger volleyball game.

From organizing the annual Dig Pink fundraiser, to coaching volleyball and basketball, Perkins is dedicated to her students and school community. She was formerly named Outstanding Unity Staff Member of the Year and is involved in middle and high school drama, Destination Imagination, and has played piano for the solo and ensemble contest. Equally committed to her union, Perkins has been involved since 1988.

“I truly enjoy working with middle school students, no day is never the same,” said Perkins. “My favorite part of teaching mathematics is watching a student experience the ‘AH-HA!’ moment. There is nothing like watching them struggle and struggle and then suddenly, it clicks! There is an intrinsic reward with knowing that you have been a small part in their success. Also, I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I am now teaching the children of some of my first students. That is exciting, but also scary – it means I’ve been teaching for a long time!”

When it comes to her union, Perkins said she belongs for several reasons. “First, it is to pay respect to those workers who fought for our basic rights all those years ago,” she said. “When I first became involved with our contract negotiations team, I remember the older members talking about the struggles they had early in their career and the items they had to fight for over the years, those things that many of us take for granted today. We owe them to carry on their hard work from many years ago. Second, my mom was a member of the ESP staff at her school for 30 years… And finally, the Unity Education Association is my professional organization.  I should belong to the organization that represents me.”

ENTER THE WEAC-BADGERS OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR CONTEST AT WWW.WEAC.ORG/BADGERS

Menominee Indian High School teacher Benjamin Grignon presented WEAC’s Excellence in Education Award

WEAC President Ron Martin presents WEAC’s Excellence in Education Award to Menominee Indian High School teacher Benjamin Grignon.

WEAC President Ron Martin on Wednesday presented WEAC’s Excellence in Education Award to Menominee Indian High School teacher Benjamin Grignon. The award was presented in Grignon’s classroom, in front of students, family members and colleagues.

In presenting the award, Martin quoted one of Grignon’s nominators who said: “Ben’s role as a teacher is not simply to teach art; rather his is the simultaneous honor and obligation to preserve and teach traditional Menominee arts, culture and language through his classroom. He is more accurately described as an art-informed anthropologist, tasked with keeping Menominee Nation traditions alive through education. I cannot overstate how important this work is as the primary teacher working to insulate his nation’s culture and traditions from being lost through time and diffusion.”

One of Grignon’s students wrote: “He is passionate about his students and values that knowledge as power. He provides his classes great learning opportunities and opens doors for all of us. His ability to spread his teaching is one of the most important resources this community has.”

In accepting the award, Grignon thanked his students and said he is honored to pass on traditions to them and hopes they pass them on from there. “It’s important that those teachings remain, and that we uphold that as the Menominee People,” he said.

Grignon has previously been named a Wisconsin 2019 High School Teacher of the Year, and Martin said the WEAC Excellence in Education Award is in effect WEAC’s own “Teacher of the Year” Award. Fourteen excellent educators from across the state were nominated for the WEAC award this year, and four were selected as award recipients: Grignon; Waukesha teacher Sarahi Monterrey; Joanna Rizzotto, a South Milwaukee alternative learning coordinator/teacher; and Sandra Kowalczyk, a Sun Prairie school reading specialist.

Students, family members and colleagues join Benjamin Grignon as he accepts WEAC’s Excellence in Education Award.

Waukesha’s Sarahi Monterrey honored with WEAC’s Excellence in Education Award

WEAC President Ron Martin on Tuesday presented WEAC’s Excellence in Education Award to Waukesha North High School Teacher Sarahi Monterrey. The award was presented at the end-of-the-year staff meeting at Waukesha North.

“Sarahi has done some tremendous and phenomenal things not only with her students and her community but has also been a tremendous advocate for public education and particularly the teaching profession,” Martin said.

“Thank you to all the phenomenal educators across our state that every single day are doing all these wonderful things to change the lives of students,” Sarahi said. “That’s really what it’s all about – making sure that all students have an opportunity to a quality education.”

Sarahi has already been named Wisconsin’s High School Teacher of the Year, and Martin said the WEAC Excellence in Education Award is in effect WEAC’s own “Teacher of the Year” Award. Fourteen excellent educators from across the state were nominated for the WEAC award, and four were selected as award recipients: Ben Grignon, a high school Menominee Indian culture teacher; Joanna Rizzotto, a South Milwaukee alternative learning coordinator/teacher; Sandra Kowalczyk, a Sun Prairie school reading specialist; and Sarahi Monterrey.

A committee of three past NEA Foundation Excellence in Education Award recipients from WEAC reviewed the four WEAC award winners, ranking each in professional practice, advocacy for the teaching profession, attention to diversity, community engagement, and leadership in professional development. It then selected Sarahi as WEAC’s Excellence in Education nominee to the NEA Foundation. She will go on to compete with representatives from other state unions, and four individuals will be selected to receive the Horace Mann special recognition and a $10,000 award. One finalist will receive the NEA Member Benefits award and a $25,000 prize.

Wisconsin Teacher of the Year joins other top educators at ‘Teach-In for Freedom’ in El Paso

Sarahí Monterrey at the El Paso Teach-In

Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year – and WEAC Region 7 member – Sarahí Monterrey joined dozens of other state teachers of the year and hundreds of NEA members last weekend for the “Teach-In for Freedom,” an all-day event organized by Teachers Against Child Detention (TACD) to protest the inhumane detention of children at the Mexican border and the criminalization of immigrant families.

“The Teach-In in El Paso was a powerful experience because teachers were united to be a voice for the over 10,000 children who are in detention centers across our country,” Monterrey told weac.org. “This was not a protest but rather an opportunity to educate the public about immigration policies and the effects of these policies on children. 

“It was powerful to come together with educators from across the country who shared lessons on various aspects of immigration,” she said. “There were also community organizations present who are doing tremendous work to advocate for immigrant rights, and they provided excellent resources to the public.”  

Monterrey, interviewed by PBS News Hour, said the impact of the administration’s immigration policies reaches deep into her classroom in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She said she sees effects of trauma in her classroom, with students saying they are sad, can’t concentrate or have stomach aches.

It’s very difficult for students to learn,” Monterrey said. “And it’s very hard because, sometimes, even as an educator, it’s hard to find the right words of what to say, because, sometimes, I do feel helpless.”

With support from WEAC, Monterrey traveled to El Paso to participate in the teach-in, which was led by National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning. The goal was to shed light on the impact of child detention policies on the border, which TACD calls a “moral disaster.” The teach-in focused on the harm immigrant kids experience when separated from their families, and aimed to educate the country on why these families have fled from their home countries and how Americans can welcome them legally and contribute to their ongoing care and integration. 

NEA Today also covered the event, noting that educators and others have been outraged by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating immigrant and refugee children as young as 18 months old from their parents.

“Detained in more than 100 government detention centers across 17 states, these children have been denied access to public education, and likely will suffer irreparable, lifelong psychological damage, educators said. The practice also violates their fundamental right to seek asylum,” NEA Today reported.

In honoring Monterrey first as the State High School Teacher of the Year and then as Wisconsin’s representative for National Teacher of the Year, the Department of Public Instruction noted that, as a child immigrant from El Salvador, Monterrey recognizes the pivotal role teachers play in students’ lives.

“The power in making students feel welcome and safe cannot be underestimated,” she said. DPI noted:

Monterrey’s work on inclusion includes the visible, “Dreamers Welcome” and “This School Welcomes You” posters. Not as visible, but just as important, are her extra efforts to ensure a curriculum that is representative of various backgrounds so students feel inspired; her work to improve family communication so parents understand they are part of their student’s success; and her outreach to ensure that English learner (EL) students have access to extracurricular activities and support to be ready for college.

Watch the PBS News Hour report on the El Paso Teach-In:

Amid immigration debate, top teachers gather to protest child detention

Some of the nation’s top teachers recently gathered in El Paso, Texas, to speak out against the government’s practice of detaining children who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Dismissing the notion that they shouldn’t get involved in political advocacy, teachers said they see some U.S. policy and procedures as “abusive.”

Read the NEA Today report:

At the Border, Teachers Protest Detention, Separation of Children – NEA Today

On a makeshift stage in El Paso, Texas, former Texas Teacher of the Year Leslie Anaya delivered a message to the roughly 15,000 immigrant children who are held captive in federal detention centers, where they are denied an education and separated from their mothers, fathers, and anybody else who loves them.

Read more about Sarahí Monterrey:

Sarahi Monterrey named a 2019 High School Teacher of the Year

MADISON – In a surprise ceremony at her school today, Sarahi Monterrey, an English Learner teacher at Waukesha North High School, was named a Wisconsin 2019 High School Teacher of the Year. State Superintendent Tony Evers made the announcement during an all-school assembly.

Madison’s Michael Jones is latest winner of the WEAC-UW Badger Red for Public Ed honor

Congratulations to Madison teacher Michael Jones, the latest winner of WEAC’s 2018 WEAC-UW Badger Red for Public Ed honor! The honor goes to WEAC members in appreciation for their dedication to students. Recipients are treated to a UW Badger athletic event. Michael will be honored at the UW Volleyball game October 21 at the UW Fieldhouse.

Michael, a WEAC and Madison Teachers Inc. member, is a Special Education teacher, entering his 10th year in the profession.

“I’ve been a proud union member for each of those years and am currently with the 8th graders at Black Hawk Middle School  in Madison,” Michael says. “I love what I do, I love the students and families I get to work with, and definitely I love my colleagues, all of whom I consider friends. I’m very lucky to be where I am and with the people I get to work with.”

Madison teacher Kerry Motoviloff nominated Michael, saying “He is a leader for ALL students lifting them at their toughest moments with grace and care.”

Visit weac.org/badger to nominate yourself or another deserving educator for a chance to win a drawing for Wisconsin athletic events throughout the school year.

‘Together, we have come to understand our traditional ways through the revitalization of our arts’

Benjamin Grignon

The Department of Public Education ConnectEd newsletter this week features Wisconsin’s Teachers of the Year, including Benjamin Grignon, a teacher of traditional Menominee crafts at Menominee Indian High School in Keshena, a member of WEAC Region 3, and a Wisconsin 2019 High School Teacher of the Year.

In a column describing his philosophy of teaching, which uses the arts to strengthen connections between students and the Menominee culture, Grignon writes:

Keka͞ehkenohamowōnaw (We all teach): Benjamin Grignon

Neta͞esehcekanenaw (Our way of doing things; Our culture)

Within the Menominee culture, the young are expected to take care of our elders, which can come in the form of making our elders a plate during our gatherings, running errands, or doing chores – to name a few.

The quality of nurturing is ingrained in most of my students. Many of them have responsibilities at home taking care of younger siblings, cousins, even neighbors. They cook, they clean, they help teach our ways to the young, they make sure everyone is safe. My students already have the skills needed to be teachers, they just need opportunities. How do I create opportunities for my students to become teachers? Equity in the classroom.

Nātamowenaq. (Help me). The arts that I am teaching in my classroom are practiced by very few people within our tribe. I know that in order for our arts to survive, my kids need to be able to teach others and share the knowledge. The ultimate goal in my classroom is to create students who are able to carry on our arts and the language and culture that accompanies these arts. Students in my classroom naturally help each other when they have questions. I have noticed that they will seek out someone on their table, then someone they know who is very good at a particular skill, and then finally, ask me if they can’t source the knowledge among their peers. I am looking at helping to foster this. The more chances my students get to teach, the greater pride they have in themselves, our cultural art traditions, and our language.

Keka͞ehkenohamowōnaw. (We all teach). My students are given the opportunity to teach every day. They are proud to be able to share what they have learned with their peers. Ensuring that each of my students is able to help another student requires constant vigilance on my part. I make sure that I am working on the same projects that my students are working on and I move around the room on different days, working with tables of students. I constantly listen for questions that arise and how the students direct their answers. This allows peer-to-peer teaching. I also ask some of my advanced students to teach a project if they are willing.

Kemāmāwohkāma͞eq. (We all work at it together). Over the years, my students have helped me to understand what being Ka͞eyes Mamāceqtāwak (Ancient Movers, now called Menominee) means. Together, we have come to understand our traditional ways through the revitalization of our arts. My students have been my greatest teachers, and my only hope is that I have reciprocated by providing them with the teachings they deserve. Equity in my classroom is when my students share in teaching. We are on this journey together. This has to be our way. We won’t survive any other way.

Eneq taeh ‘s ām-pa͞ec-kaehkēnaman ayom Mamāceqtaw wenah nap takuah ona͞epuahkan. (And that’s almost all I know well about this Indian’s wisdom).

‘Each student is treated with the ultimate respect’

Michael Wilson

The Department of Public Education ConnectEd newsletter this week features Wisconsin’s Teachers of the Year, including Michael Wilson, a school counselor at St. Croix Falls High School, a member of WEAC Region 1, and Wisconsin’s 2019 Special Services Teacher of the Year.

In a column describing his approach to teaching, which boils down to treating each student with the ultimate respect, Wilson writes:

All students All of the Time: Michael Wilson

Throughout my years in education, I have seen a strong transformation from what used to be a cookie-cutter approach with students to more individualized focus and attention. It is clear that our students have more individual needs and our teachers are working to meet those needs.

As a school counselor and dean of students in a small school in a rural town in northwest Wisconsin, I have the unique opportunity to know every single one of our high school students. Each fall I make a point to interview our freshmen, one by one. I want to get to know them, their families, their hobbies and interests, and their needs. I also want them to know who I am and explain that I am their personal assistant in high school.

In education, the word equity can be interpreted as very complicated for some. My vision of equity in schools is a simple definition: All students, all of the time. As I work day to day with my students, I keep the thought process simple. It doesn’t matter who they are, what they look like, or where they came from, each student is treated with the ultimate respect and offered opportunities they need so they can reach their highest potential, goals, and dreams. The kid in cowboy boots who milks cows in the morning before school needs the same attention and guidance offered as the kid wearing flip-flops and cargo shorts, whose parents are both doctors.

Intentional conversations create intentional relationships. Talking with students and asking about their day, their weekend, or quite simply asking them how they are doing naturally creates positive, mutual, respectful relationships. Asking the right questions opens up many social and emotional doors. Educators not only can but should ask personal questions and build strong bonds with their students.

A two-way trusting relationship creates a safe environment for learning and growing. I have had conversations with students on topics ranging from hunting to fishing to horseback riding to reading. I ask students about things like their most recent athletic contest or what their parents do or about their new car. Students love to know we care. As educators, we hold a powerful position in influencing our students and a trust-based, two-way teacher-student relationship is essential. All students deserve this level of care and concern all of the time.

My advice to teachers, veterans or rookies, is to speak with every kid with an open and honest approach. Students who are struggling need to be asked if they are struggling. Students who are not doing well need to be asked why. Students who have great successes should be celebrated. Students with depression or suicidal thoughts need to be asked directly about them. Our kids need to know that we genuinely care and are there for them, as a whole child.

Ask questions, share stories, and let these kids know you are not only a teacher but a human being. Imagine being a student in a school where you know your teachers genuinely care about you as a person. Imagine how motivated you might be to learn. Imagine how strong you would feel about not letting these caring, trusted adults down. All students deserve our honest and natural attention, all of the time.

WEAC members are finalists for Presidential Teaching Awards

Two WEAC members are among state finalists for the 2018 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), considered the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government for mathematics and science teachers.

Alicia Korth, first-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in the New London School District; and Rebecca Saeman, mathematics and reading intervention teacher at Sauk Trail Elementary School in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District received the recognition.

WEAC members: Resources to elevate your professional practices

“WEAC is proud to advance the teaching profession and provide high-quality supports to help all Wisconsin educators achieve their full potential,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, an eighth grade social studies teacher. “Wisconsin educators teach and inspire their students every day, earning the respect they deserve for a job well done.”

“These teachers demonstrate their care and love of students and the teaching profession,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Their passion helps to inspire our future inventors, doctors, and software developers who will certainly impact our ever-changing world. I wish our finalists well in the next stage of the Presidential Teaching Awards process.”

Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST program recognizes teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of STEM education, the abbreviation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which includes computer science.

Other finalists from Wisconsin of the 2018 awards, which recognize educators who teach in grades kindergarten through six, are Michelle Butturini of Reedsville Elementary/Middle School and Michelle Howe of Lodi Middle School.

Use intrinsic motivation, not gimmicks or rewards, to inspire students, Wisconsin’s 2017 Teacher of the Year writes

Chris Gleason

Using gimmicks or rewards to get students to study or perform tasks can backfire by damaging their “innate intrinsic motivation,” Sun Prairie music teacher Chris Gleason writes in a new Teacher Leader Voices blog posted this week at EdWeek.org.

“I believe that we need to ‘work with’ kids and not ‘do things to’ them. We need to fan the flames of curiosity in every child and foster their love of learning,” writes the 2017 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, who is a member of WEAC Region 6. “Educators, let us use research, not gimmicks, to inspire our students. Inspire students using autonomy, mastery, and purpose.”

Read the entire blog post on EdWeek.org:

Don’t Use Gimmicks to Motivate Students

My son Miles hopped up on his bed with six of his favorite short stories that he wanted to read before bedtime. He had a voracious appetite for reading and loved asking “what if” questions about the characters in the stories. On this night, however, something changed.

Kay McLain of Florence is named Wisconsin Rural School Teacher of the Year

Florence County High School business education teacher Kay McLain, a member of the Florence County Education Association and WEAC Region 3, has been named the 2017 Rural School Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WiRSA).

The award was presented at WiRSA’s annual conference in Wisconsin Dells. WiRSA annually recognizes one rural teacher statewide who makes significant contributions to their school district, most importantly to the students they serve. McLain is automatically a semifinalist for the National Monsanto Fund Rural Teacher of the Year competition sponsored by the National Rural Education Association.

McLain was nominated by Florence School District Administrator Ben Niehaus who said she far exceeds criteria for the award. “This award acknowledges the devotion of Kay, along with her supporting colleagues, to never be satisfied with the status quo in the interest of student success and opportunities. The persistence of Kay’s leadership is contagious throughout the high school,” Niehaus said.