The 2019-20 Providence Day School Teacher of the Year recipients are Amy Iverson for Lower School, Amy Bynum for Middle School, and Stephanie Vanderford for Upper School. The Teacher of the Year awards, sponsored by the Parents’ Association, go to those who best uphold the school’s mission of inspiring in students a passion for learning both in the classroom and through extracurricular activities.
Upper School English teacher Katherine Currier received the Blackwell Award for Teaching Merit-Humanities and Middle School teacher Sarah Goodman received the Blackwell Award for Teaching Merit-Science & Math. In recognition of the importance of recruiting and maintaining a faculty of master teachers, Richard Blackwell and his children have created two endowed teaching awards.
Selected annually by a committee representative of former Blackwell Award recipients and school faculty, the recipients demonstrate teaching excellence in the respective field while embodying the mission of Providence Day which is “to inspire in its students a passion for learning, a commitment to personal integrity, and a sense of social responsibility.” Each faculty recipient has positive skills in communication and interaction with their students as well as knowledge in one’s subject area, exhibiting professional and ethical conduct both inside and outside the classroom.
Read more below about each of the 2019-20 award winners.
Lower School Teacher of the Year: Amy Iverson
The Lower School Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020 has been sharing her love for education with our PD community for the last 16 years. She works tirelessly behind the scenes to improve the literacy skills of Lower School students with her trademark determination and passion for her work. This teacher thinks outside of the box when it comes to meeting the needs of all students, prompting her to rearrange schedules to carve out more time for reading. She has continued to find creative ways to teach and support her students during this unprecedented remote teaching experience.
Her work continues to cut a wide swath in Lower School, impacting students across grade levels. With her leadership and decision-making skills, Lower School has incorporated our Leveled Literacy Intervention program and has adopted the Fountas and Pinell reading curriculum; both will have a lasting impact on all our students. While she shines at her profession, she is equally gifted as a colleague. This former college athlete brings her team-building mindset to campus, always willing to help support teachers when asked to guide them with their reading instruction. She cares deeply about doing what is best for every student.
After working in the science lab and the classroom, this gifted woman took on the daunting task as Lower School’s reading specialist; she has remained in this role since then, fine-tuning the position to meet the needs of every student under her guidance. She touches the lives of our students in such an important way.
Middle School Teacher of the Year: Amy Bynum
Each and every day, the Middle School faculty brings to the classroom those characteristics that create the spark and drive for exploring and learning.
This year we recognize a faculty member who truly creates the optimal learning experience. The following recipient was voted upon by the Middle School faculty and endorsed by the Middle School administration. Here are a few quotes from the nominations:
“This teacher is so supportive of our students. They truly know the students and how to reach them. It is easy to see that this teacher loves being in the classroom with their students.”
“As a colleague, they are smart, creative, and hard-working. They are always ready with big picture ideas that I am never clever enough to think of. They are also a great leader in the Middle School. They contribute to the school in so many different ways.”
"Students love her, she's warm and engaging and builds a community of trust and respect quickly in her class.”
Upper School Teacher of the Year: Dr. Stephanie Vanderford
This year’s Upper School Teacher of the Year is enthusiastic, a great colleague, engages students, and passionate about her subject. She is also consistently described as caring.
In addition to teaching responsibilities, Vanderford is also a PD parent and Class Dean – and balances the many demands of each job with grace, performing each task diligently and thoroughly. Like all great teachers, she is a life-long learner. Graduating from PD as the Valedictorian of the Class of 1995, she embarked on an academic journey culminating in earning her Ph.D. She came full circle in 2006 when she returned to teach first mathematics, and now history and AP Macro and Micro Economics. She is a recognized leader in the AP program and serves on the test development committee for the Economics exams.
Additional quotes from her nominations include:
“Empathy, realism, creativity in finding ways to bond and celebrate, being on the front line of communication with the class - all of these things added to her workload at a most difficult time for faculty. And she handled it beautifully when things could have been so much worse for the class.”
“She has worked so hard to give the seniors a good end to the school year, despite the circumstances. Her thoughtful emails to our class and orchestration of the Senior Day Instagram takeover did not go unnoticed.”
“She has always been willing to go the extra mile to help her students.”
“I can only hope to have a teacher as amazing as Dr. V in college.”
Blackwell Award for Teaching Merit-Humanities: Katherine Currier
Effective teaching of an innovative curriculum, positive role-modeling within and outside the classroom, and the willingness to establish and maintain constructive relationships with students, parents, and other faculty are characteristics of a master teacher. The impact of such faculty on the students at Providence Day who are preparing for a college curriculum and for a quality life cannot be overstated.
The Blackwell family recognizes the immeasurable value that the teaching faculty of Providence Day School has on its students and wishes to reward the teaching faculty for their significant impact on the lives of young students.
This year’s recipient is beloved by her students, often challenging them to engage in learning through physical activities, such as acting out the role of punctuation in a lesson or attempting to play an instrument for the first time. She has developed a Meet and Eat Club, connecting students in a healthy way. Her colleagues find her to be positive and collaborative in the development of curricula.
Blackwell Award for Teaching Merit-Science & Math: Sarah Goodman
The single most powerful resource available to the Providence Day School family is its faculty. In recognition of the importance of recruiting and maintaining a faculty of master teachers, Dr. Richard Blackwell and his children have created one endowed teaching award in the area of Science & Math. Selected annually by a committee appointed by the Head of School, recipients demonstrate teaching excellence in their respective field while embodying the mission of Providence Day. All teachers in the area of Science and Math in the Lower, Middle, and Upper School are eligible to win the award.
Here are two examples that highlight the dedication and characteristics of this teacher:
“This teacher truly cares about our planet and demonstrates a true active passion for environmental stewardship. They infuse this passion in their ecology and sustainability lessons, keeping it alive and real for students. They are one of our environmental sustainability coordinators and also have continued their outdoor education by earning a North Carolina Environmental Education Certificate, and the Great Smoky Mountains Naturalist Certification. The time and knowledge it took to achieve these certifications serve to enrich the activities for all of our students.”
"As a community partnership project, she created a Trout in the Classroom program at PDS. Trout in the Classroom is an environmental education program where students raise trout and eventually release the trout in a mountain stream. This day-trip brings real-life awareness to students about water quality, conservation, and stream habitats...Through these efforts, Sarah has inspired excitement and passion in students who previously found their passions in other subjects of study.” -Teachable Moments, NC Office Of Environmental Education And Public Affairs