Miles school's multitasker wins teaching award

2014-05-01T00:00:00Z Miles school's multitasker wins teaching awardBy Alexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Miles Exploratory Learning Center Teacher Patty Mitchell got quite the surprise Wednesday: A $1,500 check and recognition from her school community.

Mitchell was awarded the Evelyn Jay Excellence in Education Award from the Educational Enrichment Foundation for her efforts to inspire a lifelong love of reading and books in students in preschool through third grade.

Mitchell wears many hats, teaching students in preschool through eighth grade, including special and regular education as well as gifted students. She helps fellow teachers plan creative lessons to help children connect with learning in a meaningful way. From time to time, Mitchell also wears the hat of principal.

During her 18-year career at Miles, Mitchell previously served as a part-time librarian — something she continues to incorporate into her work with students and teachers. She prides herself in helping others “learn to learn.”

THE NOMINATION

Mitchell was nominated by two of her colleagues, Jennifer Ceccardi and Catherine Hanson, who noted her ability to connect with students. “She has guided children to the authors that they love and she knows what books to recommend to individual children based on their interests. … Patty doesn’t just stop there, though, she is also known for connecting teachers to resource materials as well as books for leisure enjoyment.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LITERACY

“I think librarians and libraries are so important, especially at the lower level to get students reading and get them excited about reading so they become lifelong learners and know how to use information and how to access it,” Mitchell said.

ON BEING A JACK OF ALL TRADES

“I just feel like if you’re part of a school, you’re part of the school community and you do what you can. I feel very strongly about this community, and the students are fabulous,” Mitchell said.

ON WINNING THE EVELYN JAY EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION AWARD

“I was very surprised. It’s an honor that it came from colleagues I respect. It’s just amazing to feel that validation.”

A MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL

Miles Principal Robin Weldon refers to Mitchell as a true leader. “She’s an extremely gifted, talented, hardworking, caring educator. She’s very skilled in terms of getting students engaged, and the high expectations she has — doing research with little first- and second-graders — contributes to our kids reading so well and having such great comprehension. She’s an amazing support to the entire school.”

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

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