Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Teacher’s report card shines

from the Boston Herald by Margery Eagan:
Tonight at the Shubert Theatre, the Boston Public Schools will recognize 11 extraordinary teachers.
Among them is Amy Gailunas, a second-grade teacher for 18 years at Dorchester’s Henderson Inclusion School, a rare school where children of all abilities learn together. That means the gifted and talented read alongside children with learning disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome. Some kids need wheelchairs. Others need feeding tubes. But everybody gets the same content. They just learn it at their own level.
“When you meet with parents and ask their hopes and dreams for their children,” said Principal Tricia Lampron, “they say, ‘I want my children to have friends. I want them invited to birthday parties.’ ”
At Henderson, they get both the friends and the party invitations. And then many go on to college. Teachers such as Gailunas, Lampron said, make it happen.
Ann and Gerard Gorman were two of many who nominated Gailunas for her award. Their son, Ronan, has severe dyslexia and they watched him struggle and fall behind. “He would stare endlessly at books and ask why he couldn’t read. I could see how sad and hopeless he felt and it broke my heart,” his mother said.
Then Gailunas began meeting with Ronan in the morning before school started. She showed him how to make connections among letters and sounds and syllables. Ronan said he used to be “frustrated even though I tried really hard. ... The most important thing that Mrs. Gailunas helped me with was believing that I could learn how to read. She said she would help me and she did.”
Said Ronan’s mother, “I know longer fear for his future.”
Principal Lampron has stacks of letters from other parents, students and peers describing Gailunas’ ability to help even hugely challenged children love learning. Some plan to become teachers themselves. “Kind,” “caring,” “funny,” “calm” and “compassionate” are words they use to describe her.
At a time when bashing teachers has become something of a national pastime, it’s both heartening and humbling to hear praise like this. But Gailunas, like many of her fellow nominees, said yesterday she’s a bit uncomfortable with the attention, “though it’s certainly an honor.”
Asked about her unique skills, she said it’s her fellow teachers, her pupils and their parents who are truly “amazing.” Asked whether she loves her job, she said, “What’s not to love?” Asked whether it’s satisfying, she said, “Oh gosh, you have no idea.”

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