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PEA recognizes three outstanding staff members with annual awards

June 9, 2021




Every year, the Parma Education Association honors three exceptional PCSD employees for their dedication, passion and service by naming Educator of the Year, Special Educator of the Year and Helping Hand Award winners.

The 2021 Educator of the Year is Sara Good, a fifth-grade STEM Teacher at Greenbriar Middle School.

“I feel blessed and humbled to be given this honor by my peers,” Good expressed. “I get to work and grow with talented colleagues, all who teach me something that makes me a better educator. It is with their contributions to the profession that I share this recognition.”

Good has been with the district since 2005, first hired as a math coach, and has taught math for the past five years at Greenbriar Middle School.

“It's difficult to articulate why I have a passion for teaching; it is all I've ever considered doing,” she shared. “I guess it is a few favorite teachers of my own who inspired me to teach. Once in the profession, it was a perfect fit. It challenges me, no day or year is ever the same, and I get to collaborate with others to solve important problems--how to inspire young people in the most relevant ways.”

Good added that her favorite part of teaching is learning something new each day. She also said her students always impress her and keep her young in mind and spirit.

This school year has been full of uncertainties and a lot of adaptations, but Good and her students stayed positive.

“There are too many favorite memories this year to count,” she reflected. “Aside from the ‘I am not a cat’ and other interesting Google Meet avatars, toggling among Google Meet breakout rooms to simulate teamwork, and organizing virtual capstones such as building social distancing candy contraptions for Halloween or Mars colonies using 3D technology, I would have to say my favorite memories all took place after March 22. It is immeasurable how much humans can accomplish when together face-to-face. We ended the school year with a much-needed carnival in which STEM learners designed carnival games to teach others the science of force and motion. This was driven by the essential question, ‘How can we create serious fun for our community?’ We ALL needed it!”

Good shared that after this year, she has a “renewed appreciation for the profession.”

“We all have our exhausting days and may have dreamt of what it would be like to have some peace and quiet,” she remarked. “Now we know! But that ‘quiet’ comes with more computer monitors and less of the human interaction that used to exhaust me. I welcome that exhaustion any day!”

The 2021 Special Educator of the Year is Jessica Smalheer, Intervention Specialist teaching kindergarten and first-grade inclusion at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.

“I am honored to accept this incredible award,” she shared. “I work with some of the best educators, so to be singled out and recognized, is an incredible feeling.”

Smalheer has been with the district for eight years and has always had a passion for teaching.

“My goal is to have a positive impact on all my students and their families while teaching them strategies to be successful,” she expressed “I try to make learning fun to keep the children interested and excited and I am always researching new ideas to achieve this.”

“I love to see the look on a child's face when they have succeeded with academics, behavior, or both,” she further added. “I love watching my students grow from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. I feel that there is never a day that is the same as the last as we face a new adventure or challenge ahead of us.”

Over her past 20 years of teaching, Smalheer said this year was the most challenging, not just for her, but for her fellow teachers, parents and students. She believes everyone has grown through the challenges and even thrived.

“I feel that Parma City Schools has an amazing group of teachers and support staff who work hard each and every day to make a difference in the lives of our students,” she reflected. “I have been very thankful for all the co-teachers I have worked with as we have built a classroom of lifelong learners. I am looking forward to many more successful years of teaching ahead of me!”

The 2021 Helping Hand Award Winner is Elizabeth Wilson, Special Education Assistant for kindergarten and first grade at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.

“I feel surprised and honored to have received the Helping Hand Award,” she expressed.

Wilson has been with the Parma Schools for eight years and was motivated to work in education after her own schooling experience.

“When I was younger, I struggled a little bit at school and I had no connections to the teachers I had,” she shared. “I want to be that connection for the children, so they know that I can help them whenever they need it.”

Wilson said her favorite part of her job is making connections with her students and watching them grow.

“To see the excitement in their faces when they accomplish something is pretty amazing,” she described. “My favorite part of this year is when we returned to school in person. It was so awesome to see how excited and eager the kids were to be there.”

For the future, she said she wants to continue to learn and grow with her colleagues.

“In the years I have been doing my job, I have had the pleasure to work with some really incredible teachers and staff,” she remarked. “I am always continuing to learn and grow from these amazing and passionate individuals.”

Congratulations to all 2021 PEA award recipients! #PCSDProud