Lyndonville second-grade teacher honored as ‘Educator of the Year’
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent
LYNDONVILLE – In 2016, the Lyndonville Central School District board of education established an Educator of the Year award to recognize teachers who go above and beyond.
On Monday night during the Board of Education meeting, the award was presented to second-grade teacher Shannon Arlington.
Superintendent Jason Smith said the nomination process for the award begins in the fall, and five nominations were received this year. A committee which includes two student representatives reviews all applications.
Arlington graduated from Medina High School and received degrees from Genesee Community College and Brockport State College.
She was nominated for the award by third-grader Shannon Withey Jr. and a parent, Kristin Fonda. Support letters were received from community member Bonnie Water, retired colleague Craig Paas and student Logan Fonda.
Kristin Fonda said students of Arlington’s take great strides forward in their education.
“She is dedicated to giving each student the time and attention they need to succeed,” Fonda said.
Fonda explained this year Arlington helped to implement a new procedure for the ARC reading program, grouping students together based on their reading skill level, including those students in the same grade but in different classrooms.
“Communication with parents at home is so important in keeping the school-home connection, and Shannon excels in this area as well,” Fonda wrote. “She sends home weekly updates, which include what the students have learned, will learn and what we should be chatting about at home. When she corrects a paper or test, it’s more than a number and a sticker. She has written an encouraging message on the paper, too, or a constructive comment about what might make the paragraph better.”
Arlington is very involved as both a teacher and a parent. She has started work on getting her National Board Certification, an optional program which requires dedication and many hours of hard work. Teachers who are board certified are recognized as experts in their field and are often sought out to take on leadership positions in their schools and districts.
Shannon Withey Jr. is a former student of Arlington ’s, who wrote in his nomination that Mrs. Arlington is one of the kindest teachers in the world.
“She is funny sometimes and will help you if you need help,” he said.
Paas wrote that Arlington truly shines in the day-to-day interaction she has with her students.
“She truly invests herself in all of her students, striving to assure their success academically, socially and as being productive members of the community,” Paas said. “Shannon is a master at observing the strengths and weaknesses of her students and then individualizing instruction for those students in order to enrich or remediate as their needs apply. The students who have been fortunate enough to be in her classroom come to school each day, not only excited about learning, but also excited about being in a classroom in which their ideas, interests and feelings are valued.”
As part of her award, Arlington was presented with a check for $1,000, which she plans to use to bring a noted author to the school.
“I feel that providing such an experience would allow students to make new rich connections to text and perhaps encourage more of a love for reading,” she said.
She recalled how author and illustrator Patience Brewster came to her elementary school and she always remembered how that was an amazing day of learning.
Arlington shared how as a child she loved and looked forward to the start of school. She has never forgotten the teachers who inspired her, from her first-grade teacher Mrs. Harmon to Mrs. Figurilli, who was her third-grade teacher during a very difficult time in her life. She was dealing with the divorce of her parents and her brother was killed in a car accident, but Mrs. Figurilli was her main support and source of constancy. Then there was her junior high Spanish teacher Mrs. Biano who always had time to talk; Mrs. Slack, who encouraged her love of literature; and Mr. Maioriana, her junior high principal, who always had a smile on his face and somehow knew every student’s name.
“He always told me, ‘Kid, you can always do more than what you believe you can,’” Arlington said.
She added she has always enjoyed working the children from her days as a little girl playing school with her friends or babysitting.
“As an educator, I believe I must always be willing to learn new things myself in order to be the best teacher I can be for my students,” she said. “I believe educators who provide a predictable, structured, safe and caring environment help all students, but especially those students who may have no structure at home.”
Two employees were recognized on the occasion of their retirement, school bus driver Rose Stephens and kindergarten teacher Robin Boyle.
Stephens has served 23 years as bus driver, and was commended for her history of positive evaluations and for being more than “just a bus driver.”
Smith said Stephens has been a surrogate parent, counselor, a listening ear and a cheerleader to her students, and she will be missed.
Boyle has been a kindergarten teacher for 30 years, 14 at Brockport and 16 in Lyndonville, her alma mater.
Smith called Boyle a highly successful teacher. He said he had visited her room often and kids were always engaged.
“She is so proud of the progress they make, especially with their Steps in the American Reading program,” Smith said. “Her warmth, caring and compassion are the hallmarks of her teaching career.”
Boyle said she hated to leave Brockport, but once she started at Lyndonville it became very apparent to her this was where she was supposed to be.
“I spent my whole childhood here and eventually moved back to live in my childhood home,” Boyle said. “I have worked under several superintendents and principals, and pride myself on my rapport with the students and their families. When you are a kindergarten teacher, for some you are the child’s first experience to school.”
She shared her thrill at having the school gymnasium dedicated to her father, and said it says a lot that many of the teachers, bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria staff are Lyndonville alumni.