In 1988, Mrs. and Mrs. Bunzl of Richmond, Virginia established the R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence. The awards are designed to recognize public school teachers who have distinguished themselves by their inspiring classroom performance. The program has been developed by The Community Foundation and is funded by the R.E.B. Foundation.
The R.E.B. Foundation believes that a child's educational experience at the elementary, middle, and high school levels should develop basic skills and form positive life-long habits towards learning and discipline. The R.E.B. Foundation is committed to improving public education so as to benefit a broad segment of the community.
The awards are designed to identify, recognize, and support teaching excellence in the metropolitan Richmond public school systems. Grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 are given to approximately fifteen teachers to support professional development activities. Recipients are required to share educational ideas and experiences with fellow teachers.
I could think of no better person to receive an award than Ashley's teacher. And the great news - Ashley's teacher, Mrs. Marsh won an award! But, awards or not, Ashley and I are very blessed to have the remarkable Mrs. Marsh in our lives!
Part of the nomination I submitted for her is listed below. And don't forget to check out the link at the bottom of the page to a newspaper story about the awards. That story shows some of the exciting things the winning teachers plan to do with their grants!
"Many people, including some teachers and other school staff, see my daughter, Ashley and assume because of her severe disabilities that she cannot learn. Mrs. Selene Marsh has seen through the disabilities and found a bright, enthusiastic learner, and isn't that what being a great teacher is all about?
Ashley is deafblind, and she doesn't learn like other students. She must experience the world around her with her other senses, and then learn to process those experiences. She must be taught with innovative, think-outside-the-box techniques, and still her learning can be a slow process. Mrs. Marsh understands that and has been the first educator to truly help Ashley reach her full learning potential.
When Ashley moved from middle school to high school and was slated for Mrs. Marsh's class, Mrs. Marsh immediately began her studies into deafblindness to determine the best way to teach and support Ashley. She sought assistance from the Virgnia Deafblind Project, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, and from the one person who knew Ashley better than anyone else - her mother! Mrs. Marsh organized her classroom into a safe environment for a student with deafblindness, and began to accumulate the materials she would need to educate Ashley. And that process continues today even after Ashley has been in her classroom for three years.
But Mrs. Marsh's commitment to teaching excellence didn't stop with learning a few new skills and making her classroom accommodating. She took that commitment even farther by completing a two year program offered by Utah State University titled, "Professional Training Program in Deafblindness." She completed all the classes in that program and demonstrated all of the competencies during her coaching sessions. She also participated in two, full-day trainings with Linda Alsop, the director of Ski*Hi institute, that were follow-ups to the Utah State University coursework. And, because when Selene Marsh commits to something, she REALLY commits to it, she also attended a two-day workshop titled, "Assessment, Communication, & Routines: Building Blocks for Calendar Systems for Children w/ Deaf-Blindness and Multiple Disabilities led by Robbie Blaha from the Texas School for the Blind.
Selene Marsh's greatest asset is that she believes ALL children can learn. She never gives up and she inspires that spirit of fortitude in each and every one of her students. She is the type of teacher that students remember fondly for the rest of their lives, knowing that their successes were fueled in large part by a teacher who cares, who believes and who never, ever gives up. There truly is nothing greater in a student's life than a teacher who inspires, and that teacher is Mrs. Marsh."