“I told them it was her birthday,” said social studies teacher Skip Thibault, as the large group of students approached the door. Principal Chris Blice nodded his head and led them into the room full of people. Blice went to the front of the room and stood beside science teacher Cari Christopherson.
“Students, we’re here to tell Ms. Christopherson how much we love her and appreciate her,” Blice said to the students in the room. “We would also like to announce that Ms. Christopherson is this year’s Northwood High School Teacher of the Year.”
The room exploded into cheers like roaring thunder. Christopherson couldn’t help the smile that spread across her face, struck speechless at the announcement as Blice gave her a hug.
“Northwood has so many amazing teachers and that’s why this is kind of hard, because I don’t really like recognition much,” Christopherson said about being chosen.
Christopherson was voted to be the 2012-13 Teacher of the Year by Northwood’s faculty.
The process of voting for Teacher of the Year begins with the school sending out a list of people who are eligible. Teachers can then nominate people from the list who they feel are deserving of the award. The teachers nominated then write from a prompt about their philosophy of teaching, among other things. The winner is voted on by teachers from the list of nominees.
According to Blice, Teacher of the Year is a high honor.
“It’s a real pat on the back from your colleagues,” said Blice. “But it’s also very humbling, particularly in a school like Northwood, because you realize that you’re part of this school that has so many really great teachers.”
Christopherson was one of nine teachers nominated for Teacher of the Year, and wrote the required paragraph about her philosophy of teaching and other aspects about her job.
“I love laughing in [my] class,” said Christopherson. “I love it when [my students] make me laugh, I love it when they can laugh. I like it when they get excited about what they’re learning and they’re excited to be in my class. It’s nice to know that in some way, shape or form, you’ve hopefully made an impact on some of their lives. It makes you come back every day.”
Christopherson added that it was hard for her to accept all of the recognition because Northwood has so many “amazing” teachers.
“They [all] have a passion about their job and they work really hard,” said Christopherson. “They want their kids to love what they teach and feel good about themselves.”
Blice felt it was that passion that made picking one teacher so difficult.
“It was tough,” said Blice. “[We had] a great list of teachers, some of the very best that I’ve ever worked with were nominated, and it’s a matter of people looking at who they feel has the biggest impact on the kids.”
Sophomore Shea Wood, who was in Christopherson’s class last semester, wasn’t shocked when he heard that Christopherson had won.
“We did a lot of hands-on material [in her class],” said Wood. “I think that she is probably the best teacher I’ve ever had, just because she is kind to her students and builds relationships.”
Although teaching can be difficult, Christopherson says she enjoys it.
“I love having my students for that certain amount of time and being able to make some sort of impact on them, and that’s pretty powerful if you think about it,” said Christopherson. “I was meant to do this job and I love it.”
— By Morgan Yigdal