Heart of teaching shows through quarterly Successories program winners

Ingrid Hodgins, Chrissie Plunket, Diane Zukas and Darci Taylor

Ingrid Hodgins, Chrissie Plunket, Diane Zukas and Darci Taylor

Following the first quarter since the launch of the “Successories” program at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, the initial round of honorees has been selected.

Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson randomly drew a $25 restaurant gift certificate winner from each school from the completed “Successories” forms that named faculty and staff members who have been recognized for helping others become a success. Ingrid Hodgins, fourth-grade teacher at the Intermediate School; Chrissie Plunkett, pre-kindergarten teacher at The Learning Community; Diane Zukas, a teaching assistant at the high school; and Darci Taylor, a teaching assistant in the middle school were chosen as this quarter’s winners.

Forms and collection boxes to recognize district “Successories” — a combination of the words “success” and “accessories” —are in each of the main offices of Broadalbin-Perth’s four schools. Students, parents, community members and other faculty and staff are invited to fill out the forms.

Plunkett was nominated as a Successory by second-grade teacher Meg Marsden, who thanked Plunkett for “filling out the time-consuming Arts in Education paperwork” that brought the Wildlife Institute of Eastern New York’s program “Silent Wings” to The Learning Community in October. Through the grant-funded program, first- and second-grade students were able to see birds of prey up close.

Plunkett said she keeps the Successory form hung above her desk as a reminder that the work she does is appreciated. “That’s not the original motivation, but it’s a wonderful feeling to be recognized, especially by your peers,” she said. “You don’t always realize that others appreciate what you do.”

Teaching assistant Taylor was recognized as a Successory for the work she is doing to help a particular Middle School student succeed in science. The student’s “test scores, homework and attitude in class have improved dramatically with your support and positive influence,” wrote teacher Cindy Sengenberger.

“It’s a big honor for me,” Taylor said. “When you work in a school, you want to have a positive effect on students, but you don’t always know if you are.”

This is Taylor’s first year working in a classroom, and she is thrilled to be working with inspiring teachers who help her learn. She said she has found listening to students to be very important. “You have to turn the tables and let them talk, too.”

As a teaching assistant in the Life Skills class at the high school, Zukas also takes the time to make connections with her students. She was given a Successory for “always being flexible and ready and willing to help all of our students throughout the day.”

“If they want to talk, I listen,” Zukas said. “If you can give students peace of mind by talking to them, it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.”

Fourth-grade teacher Hodgins was named a Successory for a special gesture that helped an Intermediate School student who needed a costume to be able to participate in the school’s annual Halloween parade. By lending the costume for the evening, too, the student also was able to go trick-or-treating with family and friends.

Hodgins said she doesn’t see her actions as going above and beyond, but rather as an example of the kind of thing teachers do regularly. “We all do things like this, but it’s nice to hear you are doing the right thing.”

With 26 years in the B-P school district, showing compassion for students is all in a day’s work for Hodgins. “They’re supposed to be happy here,” she said of the reason she and fellow teachers provide “extras” for their students.

All members of the B-P community are encouraged to take the time to recognize the good work of others by participating in the Successories program. The quarterly drawings will continue through the end of the school year, when a grand prize winner of a $100 gift certificate will be chosen.