Colton Middle School Math Teacher Stephanie Fitzgerald was named a Circle of Excellence winner in OnPoint Community Credit Union's annual Prize for Excellence in Education contest.
OnPoint named four teachers as finalists for Educator of the Year and six to the Circle of Excellence, including Fitzgerald. With the honor comes a $1,500 cash prize for Fitzgerald and a $1,000 donation to the middle school.
"I am greatly honored to receive such a recognition and I hope that I'm able to make my community proud," Fitzgerald said.
In the past, a parent nominated Fitzgerald for Oregon Teacher of the Year. Now, it is her husband, in collaboration with numerous teachers, administrators, parents and students, that nominated her for the OnPoint award.
Superintendent Koreen Barreras-Brown and CMS Principal Tori Hazelton both expressed their excitement for Fitzgerald.
"It has been a pleasure to work with Ms. Fitz this year and in previous years," Hazelton said. "I think one thing that stands out to me the most about her is her absolute passion for math and her desire to pass that on to her students."
Hazelton added, "We are excited to have her recognized for the work she does and the passion she brings to the table."
Fitzgerald too is excited about the recognition, and is grateful to those who have helped her get to this point.
"My colleagues are amazing and I'm so proud to be in this profession with them," Fitzgerald said. "Many of them have offered me support and guidance, so I know this is not just about one person in a building or district for that matter—so thank you, amazing staff."
She also offered a shout-out to her husband, who she said puts in a great deal of time at home, which allows her to spend time working for her students.
As for the award money, she does have her eye on a hiking backpack, perhaps a massage and hopefully a smart watch monitor for her friend who is suffering from epilepsy. But for Fitzgerald, the money is secondary.
"The money's cool, but I think the recognition and the positive piece that it does bring to Colton is the super exciting part," Fitzgerald said.
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