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Congratulations to Mrs. Johanna Neugebauer, Middle School Art Teacher, for being chosen as the 2018 CCSD Teacher of the Year Award recipient.  Mr. Matt Reilly, School Superintendent, announced Mrs. Neugebauer as the winner at the opening faculty meeting on September 4th.

As has become the custom, the Teacher of the Year recipient answered interview questions about her career.  Please enjoy a transcript of the interview below:

Johanna Neugebauer – Teacher of the Year 2018 interview

Where did you attend high school and college?

“I graduated from Windham Ashland Jewett Central School in the heart of New York State’s Catskill Mountains. It was a very small district, and I had only 42 students in my graduating class. After high school, I did not travel far to attend college. My undergraduate degree was completed at Oneonta State, where I majored in Studio Art and minored in Creative Writing.”

What activities were you involved in as a student?

“As a high school student, I was always drawn to the Fine Arts. I participated in a number of theater productions, played piano and guitar, and of course loved to draw and paint. In college, I focused more on the Visual Arts, and spent a great deal of my time in the art studios, covered with clay, charcoal, paint, and ink!”

Have you always worked in education, or did you start out doing something different? Why did you choose a career in education?

“When I first graduated from college, I found employment in the field of graphic design, and worked for many years as an art director for various design houses and advertising agencies. But when my children began attending school, I discovered I loved volunteering in their classrooms, and witnessing the excitement of student learning. Those “Ah ha!” moments, and the expressions on students’ faces as they made connections were so rewarding! I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in teaching so that I could be a part of that wonderful process every day! I completed that degree at Cortland State. As a result, I became dual certified to teach in the classroom for Kindergarten through sixth grades, as well as Visual Arts for kindergarten through twelfth grades.”

Did anyone specific impact your decision to become an educator?

“I was blessed to have many exceptional teachers as role models throughout my education. Additionally, the fact that there were many teaching professionals in my extended family influenced my decision to become an educator to some extent. Several of my uncles and aunts, three sisters-in-law, and my only sister were/are all teachers. As it turns out, a focus on education apparently runs in the family. My husband is a long-term school board member, and my daughter is now completing her coursework and certification as a Special Education teacher.”

Where did you complete your student teaching?

“My first student teaching placement was in a neighboring district. My second placement was right here in Cazenovia in a third grade classroom at Burton Street, where I quickly discovered what an amazing district this was!”

Where was your first teaching position? What did you teach? When did you start teaching at Cazenovia?

“My first actual teaching position was in a fourth grade classroom in the district my children attended, which allowed me to keep a close eye on them (much to their dismay)! Then in 2005, I was ready for a change, and when the opportunity presented itself, I took a sixth grade position here in Cazenovia at the Middle School. I am fascinated by history, and I’m an avid reader, so I thoroughly enjoyed the years I spent teaching sixth grade Social Studies and Language Arts! I also cherished the year I spent teaching fourth grade at Burton Street. But when the Middle School Art teacher retired, I knew what I wanted to do… teach Art! I was fortunate enough to get the position, and I’ve been loving every minute ever since!”

What are some of the biggest changes in the profession that have occurred during your career?

“There are always swings in educational methods and philosophies. Buzzwords and trends come and go. What is popular now may not be in the very near future. Old ideas seem to resurface from time to time. But the bottom line is always the same… what is best for our students? The biggest changes I have seen have been in technology, which evolves so rapidly that it is difficult at times to keep up with what is current. For students today, technology is a fact of life, it is second nature to them, and it affords them a wealth of possibilities. That said, I feel that technology should never replace good instruction and personal interaction.”

What would you hope your teaching legacy might be?

“If students remember me as a teacher who cared deeply about their well being, who made learning interesting and fun, and perhaps made them laugh or smile, I would be very satisfied.”

If you never became an educator, what career might you have had?

“I’m pretty sure that in another life, I would have been a writer, or maybe a major rock star! And who knows… there’s still time, right? But wait a minute . . . teachers ARE the real rock stars! And the staff in the Cazenovia School District is the best of the best, so I’m in great company!”

NOTE: Another article celebrating our 2018 Staff Person of the Year Award recipient, Mrs. Bitsy Namy, will appear later this month.

HISTORY OF THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD

Each year, since 1983, the Cazenovia Central School District has honored one or more teachers for their outstanding accomplishments as an educator in our district. Nomination forms are sent to all members of the teaching staff in early June. When teachers nominate a colleague, they submit written explanations as to why a particular teacher should be considered for the Cazenovia Central School Teacher of the Year Award. In late June teachers, who have been previously been honored as Teacher of the Year, review the written nomination forms and select the individual to be honored. Previous “Teacher of the Year” recipients have been:

1983  Barry Parker
1984  Nancy Holland
1985  Margy Clancy
1986  Andy Lepine
1987  Walter Stroud
1988  Sybil Spaulding
1989  Frank DeGrenier
1990  Michele Decker
1991  Pamela Ryan
1992  William Paben
1993  Amy Conley
1994  Eric Jerabek
1995  Educators of Distinction Program
1996  Beverly Buck
1997  Mark Evans
1998  Deborah McCullough
1999  Ronald Luteran
2000  Christopher Hurd
2001  Bob Read
2002  Lorraine O’Connor
2003  Kurt Wheeler
2004  Nancy Kolwaite
2005  Maureen Carroll
2006  Marva Spuller
2007  Ellen Dougherty
2008  Lorraine Scheftic
2009  Mike Burns
2009  Vicki Reutter
2010  Mary Damon
2011  Nancy Saya
2012  Sean Kelly
2013  Margeret Sevier
2014  Robin Costello
2015  Sharon Gifford
2016  Catharine Taylor
2017  Teresa Campbell
2017  Kristen Axe
2018  Johanna Neugebauer

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