Written by Publisher, Wakulla.com Monday, 08 January 2007 14:25
Peers Choose Rhonda Traweek as Shadeville Elementary School 2007 Teacher of the Year
Rhonda Traweek, a third grade teacher, has been named the 2007 Shadeville Elementary School Teacher of the Year. “It means so much to me that my fellow teachers chose me as their representative,” says Traweek.
Traweek, who has been teaching for 17 years, says she has taught just about every elementary grade level there is. “My first year of teaching I taught 4th grade in my hometown of Apalachicola,” says Traweek. “I then went to Chaires Elementary School where I taught 1st grade. From there I went to Apalachee Elementary School in Tallahassee, and then moved to Shadeville Elementary in 1993.” While at Shadeville, Traweek has taught 2nd grade, 5th grade, 4th grade, pre-1st, and is now teaching 3rd grade. “I’ve taught 3rd grade before here at Shadeville, and have also taught a 2nd/3rd grade combo,” says Traweek. “Moving around often makes you constantly evaluate what you are doing; you can’t get stuck in a rut. I’ve enjoyed them all, but I really love the third graders because they still love a corny joke, and they are still sweet enough that when they are hurt they want to be hugged on a little bit. I have a great bunch of students this year.”
Traweek, who was born and raised in Apalachicola, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida State University. “I actually began my college career in the school of business,” says Traweek. “I finished my first three years, then got married. Then I decided to go back to school and do what I really wanted, which was to teach. I finished my internship on a Tuesday, and my son was born that Saturday. Instead of getting my diploma at graduation, I was in the hospital!” Traweek’s son, Andrew, is now in his second year on full scholarship at Florida State University completing a degree in History.
Along with her teaching duties, Traweek is also the Shadeville Technology Chairperson. “I have been in this position for the past eight years,” says Traweek. “I take care of all the maintenance and trouble shooting on all the school’s computers. I have a committee of nine people who help me. Our Media Specialist, Susan Jamison, handles the trouble shooting on the software end of things. I do better with the hardware.” Traweek is also responsible for completing the school’s STaR survey, which deals with computer technology. She and her committee also write the school’s Technology Plan each year. She also teaches at least one full day of technology inservice to the Shadeville faculty each year, and does about 15 or 20 one-on-one sessions with different teachers throughout the year. She has held inservices on how to use GradeQuick and Edline not just at Shadeville Elementary, but at Medart and Crawfordville Elementary Schools as well.
When asked who inspired her to become a teacher, Traweek responds quickly. “My mother said I taught my baby dolls, teddy bears, and little brother ever since I was about six years old,” says Traweek, “but the person who inspired me the most was my 9th grade math teacher, Ms. Ponder. She didn’t just teach something one way; she would teach it every way she had to until we all understood it. That has stuck with me until this day. I always have a second way to teach a concept in my mind and ready to go for those children who still haven’t gotten it. I will never forget college students coming back to Ms. Ponder’s room for free tutoring sessions with their college math. I was so impressed with how well she knew her subject matter. To put it simply, she showed me how a good teacher teaches.”
Traweek was the District Teacher of the Month in 2000 and 2005, and was nominated for Teacher of the Year in 2004 and in 2005. “Maybe the third time is the charm!” joked Traweek. “I try to help out my fellow teachers whenever I can, and I feel that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When a teacher sees something on my wall that I made up and asks me if they can use it, I am so honored.”
According to Shadeville Elementary School principal Susan Brazier, “Rhonda Traweek is an exceptionally gifted teacher. She has the uncommon ability to teach both children and adults and make them know they will be successful if they just try. She conducts her classroom with a combination of skill and caring for each and every child. She consistently stays on top of her students’ progress and works as a partner with parents making sure her students reach their potential. Rhonda chairs our school's technology team and through her leadership we enjoy the benefits technology can bring to teaching. It is not uncommon to see her car in the parking lot into the evening and on the weekends making sure her classroom and our school's various technology is up and running. Rhonda's dedication to the teaching profession has made her an invaluable member of our school's faculty and the reason why she was selected to represent Shadeville as the 2007 Teacher of the Year.
Traweek feels that every child can learn. “I love teaching; love to see my student’s faces light up with understanding,” says Traweek. “The type of professionalism I am looking for is being able to objectively examine my teaching and planning style, and to feel confident that I am having a positive influence on my students and my fellow faculty and staff members.” Traweek says she always wanted to teach, and that being around the kids is an energizing experience. “You don’t do it for the money,” explains Traweek. “When a kid looks up at you and says, ‘Oh, I get it!’; that’s why I do what I do. And when a kid tells you they love you, there is nothing more special than that.”
Traweek says the thing she loves most about teaching is the “I get it moment”. “I do it for the children,” says Traweek. “I am a natural planner and love that, but if it wasn’t for the children’s reception to it, I wouldn’t do it. There have been years when it breaks my heart to send them on to the next grade level; I miss them so much. The children are so special and they love unconditionally. I have kids who will do just about anything to please me; they want to achieve and work really hard to do so. It is wonderful to see their personal and academic growth throughout the year.”
This article originally published on January 8, 2007.
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