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Honor well deserved

Published 8:12pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

A good teacher can do so much more than just impart information to students about a subject. Of course, sharing information and knowledge are the basic jobs of a teacher, and good ones do so in a way that helps ensure the information has the best chance of taking root. Suffolk has many good teachers, and the city’s students are fortunate to learn under their tutelage.

But great teachers are a rarer breed. Great teachers spark their students’ creative energies, they inspire a desire for lifelong learning and they make their subjects come alive in ways that encourage their students to understand the significance of the things they’re learning to their everyday lives.

Katie Halstead, who teaches second grade at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, is one of those great teachers. Selected as Suffolk’s 2013 Citywide Teacher of the Year, Halstead said last week she “can make books come alive and make games and activities out of them.” She feels it’s part of her duty as a teacher to “make boring things fun” and sometimes even to entertain her students, or at the very least show the children in her class that she’s excited about the things they’re learning. “If you can make it fun and exciting, the kids will gravitate to it,” she told a reporter.

Halstead speaks with the confidence of someone who has been on both sides of the equation. As a first-grade student, she revealed, she was “embarrassed and humiliated” to learn that she lagged behind her classmates. With the help of a strong teacher, though, she caught up with the others. That experience helped convince her that she wanted to join the profession her grandmother and great-aunt also had enjoyed.

Halstead’s students are especially fortunate to have a teacher who understands what it’s like to need a little extra help and whose commitment to the profession was gained through the personal experience of a great teacher’s intervention, coupled with the deep roots of a family calling.

Congratulations, Katie Halstead on an honor well deserved.

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