Laura Wilson named Educator of ExcellenceA favorite teacher of many Westfield High School Students has been named a NYS English Council Educator of Excellence. Laura R.Wilson, was nominated by this award by her colleague Mary J. Gloss. In her letter of nomination, Mrs. Gloss said, “I have known and worked with Laura for seventeen years, so I am very familiar with her excellent teaching skills and ideas, her integrity, her great sense of humor, and her dedication to English education. Presently, Laura teaches English 11, English 12, and the Jamestown Community College ENG1510 of the High School-College Connection Program, and for many years, Laura has been a Cooperating Teacher for student teachers from SUNY Fredonia.”
Mrs. Gloss provided the following summary in her nomination:
When Mrs. Wilson was teaching All Quiet on the Western Front, students competed in an Apprentice-style competition collecting toys, personal necessities, and creating T-shirts, and competing for original concepts for how to help Iraqi families during the war in Iraq. These items were sent to Officer Matt Baideme (Westfield graduate, and current West Point instructor) then stationed in Iraq. Officer Baideme distributed these items to his troops, who in turn gave these items to Iraqi families. In order to accomplish this, and in addition to other student fund raisers, Mrs. Wilson’s students organized a rock concert of local bands who volunteered their time for the cause. She and her students then worked with the local VFW to take care of packing and shipping. The result was twenty-six boxes of toys, T-shirts, and personal items being shipped (including shipping costs).
Last year, when teaching A Long Walk to Water with her 8th grade English class, Mrs. Wilson had the students come up with and implement fund raisers for money to dig a water well for the “Water for South Sudan Project.” Through various sales, including organizing a basketball game between teacher volunteers and the Harlem All-Stars, those ten 8th grade students raised $2,500.
When teaching her Lord of the Flies unit, She created a Survivor type competition among the 10th graders. The Survivor tasks and activities were related to the local community, the book, and Language Arts challenges. Students couldn’t wait to see what the daily challenge was, and they ended up “arguing” and forming alliance just as in Lord of the Flies; which of course was the point, and realized by the students.
For English 11, fifty percent of Laura Wilson’s school year is spent doing cross-curricular teaching activities with Greg Birner, social studies teacher. Three units in particular in-clude Maggie: Girl of the Streets, To Kill a Mockingbird, and their “Decades Project.”
In addition to being a cooperating teacher and the high school Teacher Mentor, Laura Wilson is also involved in other extracurricular activities. She is presently (and has been for fourteen years) one of the senior class advisors, and is on the school’s Strategic Planning Committee. She has also served as the Prom Advisor, Make-a-Wish Advisor, a Spectrum Leader, and has also served on the High School Shared Decision Making team.