SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – When Rebecca Merrow, a third-grade teacher at the Union Street School in Springfield, was first notified she’d received the University of Vermont Outstanding Teacher Award her reaction was one of disbelief.
“When my principal called me into the classroom my reaction was to ask her if it was real,” Merrow said. “I felt really excited and honored.”
Merrow was recognized at a ceremony on Oct. 18 in Burlington, where she talked about how she became a teacher.
“I grew up in Londonderry, and went to Flood Brook Union School from grades K through 8,” Merrow said. “Following my time at FBUS, I went to Burr and Burton Academy for high school. From there I went to Castleton State College, where I earned my degree in mathematics, elementary education and special education.”
She talked about her career.
“I think I am passionate about what I do because of experiences that I had as a student,” Merrow said. “As I got older and became a teacher, I made a promise to myself that I would be one of those teachers who put the students first and that I would make sure every one of my students knows they have someone who believes in them and their dreams.”
Merrow was nominated for the award by Bindy Hathorn, interim principal at Springfield High School.
The nomination by Hathorn read in part: “Not only is Becca innovative in the classroom, she also is a team player, is collaborative and always thinks about what is best for her students. Becca reaches out to families on a regular basis sharing the positive events in their child’s lives as well as trying to get support when dealing with some of the not so positive happenings. Becca is calm and coolheaded. She has been able to work successfully with some of our most difficult students. Becca is an amazing teacher and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for her.”
Merrow talked about what teaching means to her,
“There is a quote that I love that really describes what teaching means to me,” she said. “Dr. Kevin Maxwell said, ‘Our job is to teach the students we have. Not the ones we would like to have. Not the ones we used to have. Those we have right now. All of them.’ I feel that it is my job to get to know each of my students and find out what way they learn best and then create my lessons based on their learning style.
“If you were to walk into my classroom you would see students working in stations with their peers,” she continued. “One group of students would be with me, and we would be focusing on what they need to learn, as each student is an individual. You will find that I advocate for the students. I feel that learning is a partnership between the families, students and me.”
Merrow said that over the years there have been many people that have influenced her in the teaching field.
“The first person who ever inspired me was my kindergarten teacher Eileen Holleran,” Merrow said. “Seeing how she interacted with students made me realize at a young age that I wanted to be a teacher. As I grew older there were several teachers who supported me.
“When I entered high school the one teacher that really pushed me to do my best and believed in me was Sunny Wright. During my student teaching I worked closely with Beth Marsh at the Dorset School for seven weeks. During those weeks I learned many of the strategies I use today in my classroom.”
Union Street Principal Nancy Wiese praised Merrow.,
“Becca is an amazing teacher,” Wiese said. “Students in her classroom make outstanding academic progress because of the welcoming and respectful teaching environment she creates in her classroom. She was nominated by last year’s principal, and, as her new principal, I could not have been happier to see her win. Becca is an outstanding teacher, and it is an honor to have a teacher with her talents and dedication at Union Street School.”
Merrow concluded her remarks by talking about her students.
“There is nothing more special to me than seeing my students smile after succeeding at something they thought they could not do,” she said.