Teacher of the Year Process Begins

There is not much to hang on the walls of the hallways at NC.

Besides the usual club or student-group trip poster, or the announcements of upcoming events there is little else that is put on the walls.

But the hallway inside the double wooden doors of door one is different. This hallway includes decor that cannot be found anywhere else in the school.

The R. Bruce Farley Teacher of the Year award is one of the top accolades you can receive as a teacher, as this award is given to the teacher that the school believes best exemplifies the schools values.

The title of TOY, first awarded in 1991, has been awarded every year since.

The candidates are decided much in the way a pope is voted for. All the teachers cast their ballots, for themselves or for other teachers. The three teachers with the most votes, move on the second round of voting, where all teachers must pick from the three finalists.

The most recent winners of title are Andrew Wiggins in 2013, Steve Perkins in 2014, Alan Vickrey in 2015, Andrew Hodson in 2016, Tom Gayda in 2017, and Lynn Schopp in 2018.

This process of the teachers voting on their colleagues to be TOY does cause the winners to feel several different emotions upon learning that they won.

Andrew Hodson, the 2016 winner, and Andrew Wiggins, the 2013 winner, were both “humbled,” by the fact that the other teachers had voted for them to be the TOY.

Hodson, while humbled by the win, realized that he is not solely responsible for him winning the award.

“I realize that whatever accolade I achieve, comes because I work with a great team,” Hodson said.

Aside from the red plaque, the premier parking space and their photo on the wall, the teachers that win TOY can receive additional benefits.

“The year I won, I got a thousand dollars from the Falcons … and that also led to me going to a springboard event, where I got nominated for a fellowship at [Indiana University], and so I got to spend a year working with college professors down at [Indiana University],” Hodson said.

Hodson, who taught at Westlane Middle School and North View Middle School before teaching at NC is no stranger to these kinds of awards, as he won the TOY title at Westlane and Classified Employee of the Year at Northview.

“I’ve been through that experience a couple of times,” Hodson said.

While Hodson may have won a fellowship at IU and an $1000 check, other teachers receive more personal gifts for winning the title.

“The particular year that I was rewarded with this honor, I got an iPad … That was a bigger deal then [2013] than it is now,” Andrew Wiggins, teacher of AP Government and AP Economics, who won the award in 2013, said.

“It changes every other year, and I don’t even know how they change it every year,” Wiggins said.

While all teachers want to earn the title teacher of the year, not all agree on the method in which the teacher should be selected.

Hodson, while he taught at Westlane, was part of the “leadership” committee, which was made up of department chairs, assistant principals and the principal. They met and decided who of the teachers should be teacher of the year.

Hodson was unsure if the way Westlane decides who wins the award is the superior method.

“Maybe it’s the best system? I don’t know. They [NC] don’t release the vote tally, so you never know … if a plurality wins, or a majority,” Hodson said.

While some may side with the current way in which TOY is decided, teacher voting, others believe that the current system is not the best possible way of deciding the TOY.

“I feel like it’s a very flawed process … I think the ultimate problem is, teacher-to-teacher, we don’t spend any time, really, in each other’s classrooms,” said Wiggins, but he did admit “… I still think it is a very nice thing.”

-Ian McCormick

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