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A textbook example of teaching
What does it take to become teacher of the year? Her love of the profession is reflected in the shining faces of students and peers.
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
Published January 15, 2008
Wiregrass High School science teacher Lesley Wade is congratulated by colleagues Patricia LaPort, left, and Marilyn Davis, background, in Wade's classroom Monday morning. Monday marked Wade's first day back to school since being named 2008 Pasco County Teacher of the Year on Saturday.
[Stephen J. Coddington | Times]
Lesley Wade leads the science team at Wiregrass Ranch High.
[Stephen J. Coddington | Times]
WESLEY CHAPEL - Rumor had it that teacher of the year Lesley Wade would arrive at Wiregrass Ranch High in style Monday morning.
While some teachers and administrators kept an eye out for a stretch limo out front, though, Wade rolled in the way she usually does: driving into the teachers' lot after dropping off her daughter at nearby Long Middle and then just quietly walking to her classroom.
That didn't stop her students and colleagues from celebrating what they considered a much-deserved win. The announcement came late Saturday.
Assistant principal Robyn Marquith arrived at school early Monday to hang ribbons and balloons on Wade's door.
"I can't think of anybody who deserves it more," Marquith said. "She is a fabulous teacher."
Others raced into the room as soon as they learned Wade had arrived, offering hugs and congratulations.
"I'm going to cry I'm so happy," language arts teacher Kim Krook gushed as she held her friend. "You make us all look good."
It wasn't just teachers who wished Wade well. Several students also approached her as she walked the halls before classes.
"She's amazing," said junior Tess Chase, who takes Wade's Advanced Placement biology class. "She makes sure we understand things. ... She uses a lot of hands-on and visual examples to demonstrate concepts that are harder to grasp."
Classmate April Candelaria agreed.
"She doesn't just stick to the textbook" said Candelaria, also a junior. "She has so much knowledge. When she puts up her PowerPoints, she looks at a couple of words and just can expand on it."
They used words like "cool" and "understanding" to describe their teacher.
English department chairman Stephanie Kincaid, who nominated Wade for the school district award, has seen her share of teachers over 26 years. But she hasn't put everyone's name up for teacher of the year. Wade just has that "something special," Kincaid explained.
"It's her enthusiasm and dedication, the rapport she has with her students," said Kincaid, who has worked with Wade for all but one of Wade's seven-year tenure.
"It's above and beyond what we typically see."
Wade accepted all the praise with much modesty. At a school like Wiregrass Ranch, where last year's top teacher Tom Adams also teaches, just being nominated to represent the staff is a big honor, she said.
"This staff is pretty tremendous," Wade said. "It's amazing to bring this back to them."
She hopes to be able to stand up for Wiregrass Ranch next as Florida's teacher of the year.
Once on track to become a doctor, Wade does not regret her decision to become an educator instead.
She likes it so much that she's given up her pursuit of a degree in education leadership - the first step toward becoming an administrator - because she fears she would miss the kids too much if working in the front office.
Instead, Wade is working toward becoming National Board certified.
"I love teaching," she said. "It has been a gift. ... It is amazing that I get to come to work every day and do what I love."