When the Mater Christi School student body and teachers settled down for a Pastors Day Talent Show on Tuesday, January 27, during Catholic Schools week, they noticed that there were a few extra visitors at the assembly. Discerning individuals may have become aware that in addition to the pastors who had been invited as special guests, there were also officials from the VFW.
After the MCS Dumline opened the assembly with an excellent performance, the school’s Principal, Anthony Fontana, invited Commander Bob Colby, VFW Post 782, Past VFW Commander, Joe Gilmond, and Ladies VFW Auxiliary President, Sue Brennan, to join him at the podium. Mr. Fontana indicated that a special announcement was going to be made, but first, there were three students who had prepared speeches. In their speeches, students Curtis Plante, Nidhi Konnanur, and Hanna Holm talked about a teacher whom they felt really deserved an award because of the excellent and caring instruction they had received from this teacher… cleverly not mentioning a specific name.
“The moment I walked into this teacher’s classroom, I knew the coming year was going to be very special. I was intrigued by all of the magnificent projects from previous students that hung on the walls around me…. This teacher challenged the entire class to try new things, to think about things in different ways, and to always focus on improving our weaknesses. I am so fortunate to have such a special teacher as well as so many special teachers as a student here at Mater Christi School. -Curtis Plante, Grade 8
“First of all, I want to say ‘Congratulations’ to this wonderful person. Second of all, what this wonderful person has done for me is beyond words. She helped me through 4th grade and still goes. She knows how to bring out the best in me. She not only helps me but cares for me… To this day, I have to stop myself from entering the second floor of the Middle School building and walking into her classroom…” -Nidhi Konnanur, Grade 6
“…In my opinion, this person has a special talent by being able to help each student learn better. This person respects the uniqueness of each individual. Overall, I think this teacher is deserving of this award because of all the time she puts in to her job to be sure that we have the best education we can get. I want to thank this teacher for everything.” -Hanna Holm, Grade 5
Next, Anthony Fontana read his nomination letter for Mrs. Glenda Bedard, Grade 4 and 5 Social Studies and Literature teacher, for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Teacher Award for grades K-5. Carole McLenithan, Director of Support Services, also presented a touching speech for her fellow colleague. Next, the VFW officers announced that Mrs. Bedard had been chosen for not only the district and regional awards, but at the state level as well. The entire gym erupted in applause accompanied by a standing ovation from the faculty, staff and students.
It was obvious that Mrs. Bedard was completely surprised at the award, and was immensely pleased when her husband, John, and son, Jacob, joined her at the podium. Mrs. Bedard was presented a bouquet of flowers by the school and a plaque from the VFW. Commander Bob Colby offered more information about the difficulty of choosing an individual for this award, but that all the information the VFW had been given about Mrs. Bedard as an exceptional teacher left no room for hesitation in making the final selection.
For many years, Mrs. Bedard’s students have learned the care of the nation’s flag and have responsibly raised and lowered the school’s U.S. flag each day; she has provided her students with an authentic understanding of Vermont and U.S. history; and has brought her classes on annual field trips to Montpelier, Vermont’s state capitol. Mrs. Bedard is also a teacher mentor at the school. This is a role that she also excels at because of her desire to create the best learning environment possible for all students through successful teaching.
The VFW Teacher of the Year award contest recognizes three exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students. Each year, a classroom elementary, junior high and high school teacher whose curriculum focuses on citizenship education topics—for at least half of the school day in a classroom environment—can be nominated for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award. Winners receive:
• A $1,000 award for professional development expenses.
• A $1,000 award for his/her school.
• Two award plaques: one for the teacher, the other for his/her school.
• An all-expenses-paid trip to attend a VFW conference to receive their award.
More formal ceremonies by the VFW will take place on June 5, 2015, when the teachers on the K-5, 6-8, 9-12 levels will be honored. Finally, the names of all of the state winners will be forwarded to the VFW National headquarters for consideration in the national award contest.