The University of Vermont offers the opportunity for an educator chosen by each supervisory union/district to be recognized at the UVM Outstanding Teacher Day in 2018. Each year UVM recognizes outstanding teachers throughout the state through a ceremonial event that takes place in October. This year’s nominees for UVM Outstanding Teacher of the Year from Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) are Jane Spina from Warren Elementary School and Tiffany Michael from Crossett Brook Middle School.
Principal Peterson wrote that Spina's love for teaching began on the slopes of Sugarbush where she spent many years teaching skiing to all ages and overseeing the children's ski programs. In 1998, she received her BA at Trinity College of Vermont, receiving dual certification in elementary education and special education. She joined the teaching faculty at Richmond Elementary School where she taught second, third, and fourth grade for 14 years. Spina was recognized for her dedication to teaching and exemplary work as an educator in 2007 when she received the UVM Outstanding Vermont Teacher Award. The following year, in 2008, Spina earned her master’s degree from Saint Michael’s College with a concentration in information technology. She joined the Warren School community in 2012 where she continues teaching, the last seven years as a grades five/six classroom teacher. She currently serves on the HUUSD Leadership Team and this year she will have the opportunity to work with all Warren students, grades kindergarten through sixth as she takes on her new role as Warren’s intervention specialist. Spina lives in Warren with her husband, Greg, and her children, Vincent and Libby.
Spina specializes in teaching literacy and her results are outstanding. With over 33 percent poverty, over 85 percent of Spina's students have met or exceeded the standards in ELA over more than three years. Spina is a teacher leader who serves on the district’s shared leadership team, leads the sixth-grade graduation and is a positive inspiration to the entire school community. This past year, she has been learning many new skills as she prepares to become the school’s interventionist and lead the MTSS process. Spina's impact on students’ success will only continue to grow.
Jane Spina is an extraordinary teacher. She inspires students to have high expectations for themselves and to follow their dreams. She is beloved by her students and goes the extra mile every day for their families. She gets outstanding results teaching literacy to all students.
Principal Tom Drake noted that Tiffany Michael received a BS degree in elementary education with a major in English and a minor in psychology from the College of New Jersey in 1998. She taught in three different schools in Florida before she and her family finally made Vermont their home. For the past four years, she has taught language arts and science to fifth- and sixth-graders at Crossett Brook Middle School, and outstanding is a fitting label to tag onto Tiffany and her approach to teaching and learning, her principal said. Michael prides herself in having a positive demeanor and welcoming classroom, where all students feel safe and comfortable to express themselves. Not only does she challenge herself to provide engaging learning opportunities for her students, she also strives to inspire them to enrich the world beyond her classroom walls.
Michael views the professional arena as one where the research is still very much "out" as far as the best way to do it. Her approach is one of open-mindedness to new ideas and motivations, with a keen eye toward figuring out what works at the individual, the classroom, the team and the school levels. She tirelessly puts students at the center of her thinking and lends her time and efforts widely to the greater good of her team, school and profession. In a nutshell, the results are, quite simply, outstanding, Drake added.
She is extremely grateful to work in such a student-centered environment. Tiffany shared that she is honored and humbled to be receiving the Outstanding Teacher Award and would like to acknowledge the incredible team of professionals that she works with each and every day.