. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: T.O.T.Y.

Monday, May 12, 2008


It's TOTY time again! For those of you know in the know, that's Teacher of the Year.

Tomorrow night I am going to a dinner honoring the TOTYs in another district. My dear friend "Caroline" has been selected, for the second time, as Teacher of the Year at her school, and I could not agree more with their selection. She tirelessly works to improve the physical and emotional well-being of her school by planning school fundraisers, after-school events, during-school events, and school beautification activities that make her school a welcoming and caring environment.

Muffins with Mom, Donuts with Dad, jog-a-thons, Saturday flower-planting days, and the design and painting of a mural at her school are just a few of her activities. Her efforts bring together school employees and parents in ways that build not just a school community, but a school family to be envied by others. Her firm belief that all children deserve a warm and inviting school filled with adults that care about them drives her work, and I hold her in high regard because of that.

I could not be more proud of you Caroline. You are an inspiration!

In addition to honoring their teachers with a dinner, her district also endows them with money to be spent on their classrooms and a personal bonus check as well. While I know that she does not do any of her extra activities with these perks in mind, I have to say, I admire her district for making extraordinary efforts to reward teachers like Caroline.

In my district, TOTY does not hold such high esteem. Nominating a coworker for TOTY is really more of a threat rather than an honor.

"Help me with this fundraiser or I'll nominate you for Teacher of the Year! I'll campaign for you with such vigor that Obama will look like a shiftless, lazy bum."

I've even threatened to wear a sandwich board covered in campaign slogans to every staff meeting to get what I wanted with this threat.

Why is it not an honor, you ask?

My district gives our TOTYs an apple statuette, multiple after-school meetings, and mounds of paperwork. I am talking about an unbelievable amount of paperwork that continues on into the next school year when you are required to participate in the selection of the district-level TOTYs. Paperwork that never ends, that sits on your desk next to all the other paperwork we have, that follows you home on weekends and vacations, that haunts your dreams, and has insane due dates.

But it's not all bad. Did I mention the apple statuette?

Our TOTY this year is a distinguished educator who will retire at the end of the year. She has served as my personal role model and mentor since I began teaching and I greatly admire her. After this school year, she and her husband are moving out of state (in large part to escape the on-going requirements of the TOTY, I'll bet!) She deserves to be honored with something other than paperwork…

and an apple statuette.

Maybe I'll offer to grade some of her papers to make up for what we have done to her with this honor.

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