Exceptional teachers are easy to spot. We immediately know them when we see them, but articulating the difference between an exceptional teacher and all of the others isn’t so easy. Test scores and observations alone cannot define the teacher that stands out ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest: teachers like Christie Sabon, Marygrove MAT ’06.
Christie is a nine-year teacher with a passion for teaching students to read and write. She’s the teacher who always raises her hand to sit on review committees if it will improve her craft or benefit her students. Her dedication has earned her Teacher of the Year in the Farmington Schools district in Michigan. She even won a free one-year lease on a new car from a local dealership--that’s how much the Farmington community values its educators!
Talking with Christie takes you back to all the favorite teachers you’ve had in school. She is compassionate and kind, and so enthusiastic about her work. It doesn’t take long to realize that she views her job as “figuring out what makes her students tick,” and the reasons for her award become crystal clear.
“My second graders love to read the “Black Lagoon” series from [humorist, children’s author] Mike Thaler, so for National Reading Month this year we went all out and decorated the room like a jungle, complete with a giant alligator to greet you at the door!” Sabon says.
Not one to do anything half-way, Sabon says her students benefit the most from her modeling good behaviors; something she learned from the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching Program.
“I always make sure my students see me reading at my desk, and writing in my own journal,” Sabon says. “Sometimes I read my journal entries to them…they are so curious about what I find interesting. My students really keep me on my toes—they ask me to read two picture books to them each day, and they hold me to it!” So she makes the time.
Sabon also credits the Marygrove MAT program with training her to interact with parents effectively. Good teachers know that success comes more easily when you involve parents in classroom goals. But forming positive partnerships does take extra time.
“I connect with parents every single week, whether it is through e-mail or a newsletter I send home with students,” Sabon adds, “It’s important to touch base with the home front; it is really appreciated…and my students like that I tell their parents about our adventures—it makes them feel good, too."
Sabon knows that informing parents of progress on individual/class goals and upcoming events is best practice in education, and the rewards are great.
Research supports it. Renowned Johns Hopkins researcher Joyce Epstein has been touting the virtue of frequent interactions between schools, families, and communities for years. She asserts that the more time teachers spend communicating with students’ families, the more likely students will receive messages about the importance of working hard and staying in school.
From what we hear, this is not a problem for students in Ms. Sabon’s class at Hillside elementary--Sabon’s students never want to leave her classroom!
So, we congratulate this Teacher of the Year who is not only very giving of her time, but is also generous with her endorsement of her alma mater. If you want to be a better teacher, Christie Sabon highly recommends earning an MAT degree as a way to improve your game. “Many of our teachers in the [Farmington] district are Marygrove MAT alums, and we are big fans of the program.”
Thank you Christie, and thank you Farmington Schools!
Hurry and register for summer classes, and get started on your way to becoming the outstanding teacher leader you always wanted to be! We are taking applications through Wednesday, May 2!