DANBURY, Conn.— Science experiments, outdoor exploration, invention projects, a hands-on classroom, parent engagement and mentoring have brought Pembroke Elementary School second-grade teacher Nancy Michael the honor of being Danbury’s Teacher of the Year for 2016.
“I don’t know why I find myself speechless,” Michael said. “I’ve been working really hard in my own little world—and people noticed. This is the ultimate acknowledgement for a teacher.”
With 29 years total in the classroom, Michael has been a teacher in Danbury for 14 years, 11 of them in special education. She is completing her third year of teaching second grade.
Michael earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education and childhood development at the University of Michigan. Her master’s degree in special education is from Washington University. She is also part of the MSP, the Math and Science Partnership, and is certified as a teacher leader in science after receiving a Master’s Plus 30 from Western Connecticut State University.
Using the science process skills, Michael encourages students to ask, explore, observe, question and think.
“It’s not a multiple choice world. You can’t just read and choose an answer. You have to figure out a solution to the problem,” she said. “The best part of teaching is when everything comes together and a child’s learning progresses to the next level. It’s that ‘aha’ moment. You see it in their faces when they get it.”
Michael said the best part of the Teacher of the Year recognition was when her students heard the news during the school announcements. All 17 got up from their desks to embrace their teacher with a big hug. Michael, who got teary just talking about that moment, said it reminds her that even if she won the lottery, she’d be back in school the very next day.
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