Publisher's Pick: Praise for a dedicated Pine Island teacher

The gymnasium at Pine Island Elementary School came to an immediate hush Friday afternoon when Principal Scott Tryggeseth firmly, yet politely, asked students for their attention. All K-6 pupils had been assembled in a surprise gathering, and I was there to participate in the surprise. Gosh, I love my job.

The event was planned to be a big secret, as are all the Post-Bulletin’s Teacher of the Month award ceremonies. Surely, word could leak from a school associate or perhaps an inadvertent signal from a family member invited to the announcement. Fortunately, the surprise wasn’t compromised in Pine Island; every award has been a big secret at schools all year long.

A variety of subterfuge is employed to maintain secrecy. "Mr. T" — as the Pine Island school principal is called to avoid maiming his tongue-twister of a Norwegian surname – told the staff and students that the reason for the assembly was to remind students of conduct expected during the all-important MCA testing this week. Mr. T did get around to those admonitions. But not until the very pleasant surprise had been sprung upon an unsuspecting — albeit deserving — teacher.

P-B is engaged in education

Teachers help shape future generations. Those who work with children have a challenging, yet often under-appreciated, job. To know a teacher is to know this.


The Post-Bulletin and its 18-year-old Newspapers In Education program not only provide classroom curricula and study guides to accompany the more than 8,000 newspapers delivered to 150 area public and private classrooms weekly. NIE also provides serial book stories published in the Post-Bulletin for readers of all ages, but tailored specifically to the interests of young people. The Thursday Youth News current events quiz is popular for young and old. The Student Design-an-Ad program connects businesses with classrooms to teach useful marketing, design and advertising production skills.

Yes, the Post-Bulletin is thoroughly engaged and welcomed into the task of teaching. We constantly seek to recognize outstanding teaching professionals by inviting parents, students, school colleagues and community members to nominate a K-12 teacher in any school located in our far-ranging readership area, a teacher who is making a difference.

Areas of performance considered in making the award include personal initiative, going far beyond the call of duty, innovative teaching methods and encouraging students to achieve high-level academic goals and success.

The 10-year-old NIE Teacher of the Month program is coordinated by Connie Brophy, whose task among many is to recognize eight educators per year. Nomination forms are available online at the Post-Bulletin’s NIE website, in the P-B lobby and via in-paper notices and school mailings.

The independent selection committee represents a cross section of qualified people from the area.  The committee judges solely from the nomination without identifying the name of the nominee, town, or school information. I am thrilled when a teacher from a outlying community is selected. Half the readership of the Post-Bulletin falls outside Rochester ZIP codes.

So who won this month?

You may be wondering: Who was the unsuspecting, yet lucky, Pine Island honoree last week as the P-B’s March Teacher of the Month?  I plan to tease you a bit just as Connie does when she leads up to the announcement. Drawing from comments taken from the nomination form, Connie drives up suspense by not giving away gender as students and staff try to guess who will be honored.

Here are a few comments taken from the nomination form, comments that can be attributed to any number of caring teachers:


• This teacher is among the unsung heroes in the school system.   

• This teacher truly loves the kids and gives 100 percent to improving their lives.   

• This teacher provides a perfect balance of nurture, compassion, humor and patience.  

• This teacher has the professionalism to be tough when needed and the knowledge to best instruct to each unique need.   

• This teacher connects with kids and responds creatively to a variety of needs.

• This teacher successfully manages complex schedules and personnel matters regarding students and their progress.

Those assembled anxiously awaited the announcement. When Connie finally proclaimed the name, the crowd burst into a standing ovation with lively shouts and lots of hand-clapping. Special education teacher Lisa Oelkers was named the Post-Bulletin 2011 March Teacher of the Month!

I hope you will think about all the teachers who educate your children and grandchildren. To nominate a deserving teacher, please include as many details as possible in your reasons for nomination. Nominations must be submitted by the ninth day of each month to be considered in that month. Note that nominations from previous months are considered with all current nominations each month. The deadline for the final Teacher of the Month for this school year is May 9.

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