September 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Gabon: Secondary Education: Awards: Town Crier: Gabon RPCV Michele Vaughn named Teacher of the Year

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Gabon: Peace Corps Gabon : The Peace Corps in Gabon: September 24, 2004: Headlines: COS - Gabon: Secondary Education: Awards: Town Crier: Gabon RPCV Michele Vaughn named Teacher of the Year

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Gabon RPCV Michele Vaughn named Teacher of the Year

Gabon RPCV Michele Vaughn named Teacher of the Year

Gabon RPCV Michele Vaughn named Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year Michele Vaughn brings English to life
By:Daniel Remin , Special to the Town Crier 09/24/2004
On a recent school day, Michele Vaughan read a story to her fifth-grade students at the John Wallace Middle School.

"Yes, no, hi, you," she read, purposely placing little emphasis on the words.

After finishing the story, Vaughan asked her class what the point of it was and what was missing from the way she read it. A few students pick up on the fact that there was little detail and one indicated that there was no expression, which is exactly what Vaughan wanted to hear.

This was all done to introduce a lesson on punctuation marks. For the 2004-2005 Newington teacher of the year, this was just another day like all the others, another lesson to be taught to her 22 students.

Vaughan will represent Newington in Connecticut's Teacher of the Year Program.

After walking around the classroom for a bit, asking her students questions, the enthusiasm resonating in her voice and body language, she proceeded to the chalkboard to carry out her lesson on punctuation marks.

She wrote the word "exclamation" on the board and asked for examples of statements that could take an excla-mation point. She did the same for interrogatives and also taught the class about imperatives and commands.

"I'm a high-energy person," Vaughan said later. "Just to make it even more exciting for myself, I know I'm not entertained if I'm sitting there and somebody's just rattling off things. All of the teaching method classes say bring life to what you're doing and get the kids involved."

In fact, Vaughan arrives at school by 6:15 a.m. every day.

"I get up at 4:20 every morning, and I exercise for an hour," she said. "By 10 to 6 (a.m.), I'm ready to go. I sit there (at school) and correct papers or I listen to Imus on the radio. I wait, and the custodian usually comes by at 6:20 a.m. or 6:30 a.m."

Back in the classroom, Vaughan handed out the story she read without punctuation marks, divides the class into groups of two or three and instructed the children to insert marks of their own choosing wherever they want in the story.

The youngsters then practice reading the story to each other in their small groups with their inserted punctuation marks.

She then asked for volunteers to go in front of the class and act out the story with the punctuation marks they chose.

"I need guinea pigs; I mean volunteers," she teased.

"I try to be funny," she said after the children had left the classroom. "A lot of times, I think I'm funny, and the kids don't get it, but they're mostly with me. When you can get them laughing at things, they remember little situations -- how I said a sentence to show the expression, help the kids learn. It makes it more fun for every-body."

A few groups acted the story out to some laughter from the rest of the class, and after that, Vaughan read the story with the author's intended punctuation marks. The theme, which she asked her class to tell her after finish-ing the story, taught the pupils an important lesson: Don't leave anyone out.

"If you see someone sitting alone at lunch, it doesn't take much to ask them to come sit with you and your friends," Vaughan told her class.

Vaughan began teaching in 1983 as part of the Peace Corps in Africa. She worked for two years in the country of Gabon, on Africa's west coast near the equator, teaching math and English as a foreign language.

"I loved it," she said. "It was a great experience."

Some of her father's friends had been in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, and Vaughan said she had always wanted to travel and experience living in other countries, which is why she decided to enter the Peace Corps.

"It was very rewarding. I learned an awful lot just about other people and about myself. I did more than I ever thought I would do."

After returning to Connecticut, Vaughan was a long-term substitute teacher in South Windsor for the 1985-86 school year, teaching English. The following year, she got a teacher position at the Elizabeth Green School in Newington. She's taught fifth graders and second grade but prefers fifth grade.

"They have a lot of energy," she said. "They love school. They want to come. They're anxious to learn, and they're excited about things. I like having to teach all of the subjects. The upper grades you get one or two you specialize in. I like the variety. No two days are ever the same."

Vaughan lives in Wethersfield with her husband, Tom, and a 13-year-old son, Max. She comes from a teaching family. Her father recently retired after teaching physical education for more than 35 years in South Windsor. Her mother is a principal in Enfield. Vaughan's sister is a teacher and one of her brothers also teaches.

"It's exciting (to be named teacher of the year)," Vaughan said. "It's very humbling in some ways. There are so many people out there that are so good at what they do. It's nice to have that honor and be selected and recognized for hard work. People are so supportive."

©Newington Town Crier 2004

When this story was posted in October 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Town Crier

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Gabon; Secondary Education; Awards



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