Top Teachers 2017
On Sunday, May 20, Parenting New Hampshire’s Top Teachers for 2017 were honored in an on-field ceremony held before the New Hampshire Fisher Cats game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. Thank you to the Fisher Cats for their hospitality and congratulations again to the teachers. Nominations for the 2019 Top Teachers contest will be collected in October; more information will be available later this summer.
From left, Lauren Asmega (Strafford School, Strafford); Gail Lewis (Auburn Village School, Auburn) Marilyn Byron (St. Joseph Regional Catholic School, Salem); Mary Guidoboni (World Academy, Nashua); and Lindsay Bliznik (Moultonborough Academy, Moultonboro).
Not pictured: Shauna Webber (Smyth Road Elementary, Manchester); Kathleen Litch (St. Christopher School, Nashua) and Patricia Silvia (Strong Foundations Charter School, Pembroke)
2017 Top Teachers recipients
Kathy Litch of St. Christopher School in Nashua
Thank you to everyone who took time out to submit a nomination for a teacher they wanted to see featured in our first-ever NH Top Teachers issue. We received so many wonderful submissions that it was very difficult to choose just a few.
These elite eight teachers have captured the heart of and inspired many colleagues, parents and students. They were described as passionate, dedicated and creative. We are honored to share your words with our readers and highlight these very special people. We will be recognizing these eight educators in the spring at a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game. We will be sharing the details of that special day in a few months.
Please note: If a teacher received multiple submissions, we chose a few nominations to feature, but we will share all submissions with the nominee. Some submissions were abbreviated for the print edition due to length. – Melanie Hitchcock, Editor
St. Christopher School, Nashua
Technology, kindergarten through Grade 6
After working in California in product marketing for high-tech firms, Kathy Litch and her husband moved to NH where she began her teaching career. When she is not teaching, she spends time with her family and friends. They enjoy hiking, biking, and traveling throughout the states and the world. This is her 12th year teaching.
Nominator: Cynthia Vita Clarke, Principal of St. Christopher School.
“Whether challenging her students in class, spearheading participation in a technology conference for the entire school staff, spending a month in Africa wiring orphanages for internet access and educating local administrators, or backpacking in Europe with her daughter, St. Christopher School’s technology teacher Kathleen Litch brings an adventurous spirit to all that she does…. Kathy teaches nearly 300 students in grades kindergarten through six, fashioning a technology curriculum that develops important skills and embraces innovation. She is always interested in going the extra mile, often asking if she can do more to advance her classes. Kathy works hard to provide a variety of opportunities to spark her students’ interest in computer science, engineering, and other technical applications. …If teaching weren’t enough, Kathy serves as our resident information technology specialist, managing a wide range of issues and trouble-shooting problems that arise throughout the building. She maintains the school’s networks, computers, and iPads, including software updates and licensing. …She simply finds a way to get things done, and we have come to rely on her generosity and resourcefulness.”
Gail Boucher Lewis
Auburn Village School, Auburn
Gail Boucher Lewis, a 2013 NH Teacher of the Year finalist has taught at Auburn Village School for 30 years. Gail is also an adjunct faculty member at SNHU where she teaches an ARTS Integration course to undergraduate education students. Throughout the decades many facets of education have changed. One thing however, has endured throughout the years and that is Gail’s belief that you cannot possibly teach a mind without first touching a heart.
Nominator: Sarah Lawrence of Auburn, parent of current student
“Mrs. Lewis truly loves her job and her students. She is the most caring and creative teacher I have had the privilege of meeting. Every lesson she teaches is taught from the most creative angle. For example, while the kids are working on contractions she dressed up in full surgeon gear, had a surgical table and cut the two words and put them back together in contraction form. The kids all got surgical masks then got to take care of their own ‘patients.’ She also dressed as Snow White and explained to the kids that one of the dwarfs had quit and they had to write job applications to be interviewed for the opening. Her love of teaching is beyond any teacher I have ever met. She truly is a one of a kind and we are so lucky to have her at Auburn Village School.”
Strafford School, Strafford
Lauren Asmega graduated from Rivier University in 2015 and has been teaching first grade for three years. She loves starting every day with 19 hugs, high fives, and fist bumps. She said: “Being a first-grade teacher, I find that I have a whole lot to be thankful for. I may work hard to inspire my students, but they are the ones teaching me new things about life every day.”
Nominator: Shelly Welch of Dover, colleague
“I teach with some of the most amazing people, and I try to recognize and tell them how amazing they are everyday. One teacher inspires me above all the others, and she doesn’t even know it. That’s why I am compelled to introduce you to Miss Asmega. When you walk into her classroom, you are immediately welcomed by a colorful rug, creative resources for children on the walls, and the most beautiful rocking chair that says ‘Come sit by me and hear a story’ When you enter her room, you won’t get far before being greeted by a big smile and soft eyes, saying ‘Good Morning! Or Hello!’ Her classroom library invites children in to find a cozy chair or bean bag, a stuffed animal, and a book. This teacher makes learning fun in so many ways for her students. Instead of having partner 1 and partner 2 for partner work, she calls partnerships, milk and cookie partners where one child is the milk and the other is the cookie. …Miss Asmega helps to make her students feel like readers, writers, scientists, mathematicians, and people with good character each and every day and she invites them along a learning journey to do important work every day of their first grade year.”
World Academy, Nashua
Mary Guidoboni has been teaching for 30 years – 27 of those years at World Academy. She is presently completing an Orton Gillingham practicum and enjoys teaching very much, especially first grade. She said: “I have always tried different strategies and styles to teach my students depending on their needs. Laughter and kindness are always part of my day. Watching my students grow as they learn is an amazing part of my job and I love it. I can't see myself doing anything else.”
Nominator: Kristin Barsorian of Nashua, parent of former student
“ … Her love and dedication to her students is top notch. My daughter still runs to hug her when she sees her. The enthusiasm she brings to class each day, encourages the kids to want to learn. Her communication with parents keeps parents involved in what the kids are doing daily. The field trips she plans; the holiday celebrations and class theme days keep the kids engaged and excited to be there. She is one teacher my child will never forget. Thank you Mrs. Guidoboni for giving hundreds of children a love for learning and a brighter future. We love you!”
Moultonborough Academy, Moultonborough,
Spanish, Grades 6-12
Lindsay Bliznik has been teaching for 11 years – nine of those at Moultonborough Academy. She said she got into teaching because she has a strong passion for Spanish language and culture as well as helping others. She said: “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else other than teaching Spanish. I truly believe I have the best job ever and my students are the best part of my job. She will complete her Master’s in Educational Leadership in January.”
From Chris Canfield of Tamworth, colleague: “Lindsay Bliznik embodies all of the best that a teacher can bring to her craft: she is a master of instruction, she is empathetic to the needs of her students and the school community, she models intellectual curiosity, citizenship, and kindness. Lindsay studied teaching World Languages in college after being inspired by her high school World Languages teacher. They are now colleagues, and I dare say that Allison, Lindsay’s former teacher, finds Lindsay as inspiring a teacher as Lindsay found Allison. Lindsay’s classes are best practice in action. She has mastered her field, Spanish, and she delivers her instruction with such variety that students cannot be bored, and they cannot miss learning and understanding the content.”
From Whitney Sullivan of Meredith, colleague: “Lindsay teaches the whole student. Students who enter her classroom will learn Spanish, but more importantly they will learn empathy, a characteristic that is becoming ever more important. She teaches students that no act of kindness is too small, and that each of them has the power to make a positive change in the world.”
Smyth Road Elementary, Manchester
Shauna Webber has taught kindergarten in Manchester for 17 years and was a finalist for the 2018 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year Award. She said: “My husband Rich and I have two wonderful girls, Mia and Kate and two pups that make our home full and busy. Each year I am inspired by the children I teach and the colleagues and families I collaborate with. This profession is humbling, energizing and more fulfilling than I could ever imagine.”
Nominator: Alyse Hlasny of Manchester, parent of former student
“Mrs. Webber is a truly outstanding educator. For a kindergartener beginning in a new school, there couldn't be anyone more welcoming. She is kind, patient, and puts her students at ease while challenging them to become caring and polite individuals. What sets Mrs. Webber apart is her ability to create a sense of family among her students right away, and maintain close relationships with former students as well. My daughter has moved on to first grade, but still stops by Mrs. Webber's door frequently, where hugs abound for students and parents alike.”
St. Joseph Regional Catholic School, Salem
Teaching has been, and continues to be, a rewarding career for Marilyn Byron and she has been teaching for 36 years. She graduated from UMass-Lowell with a dual major, elementary education/psychology and started her career teaching second grade then preschool. In 1988, she began teaching kindergarten at St. Joseph Regional Catholic School where she says she enjoys every day as if it were her first year. She said: “I have many fond memories with my St. Joe’s family. I am honored and grateful to be recognized.”
From Jillian Frediani of Salem, parent of current student: “After a not so fruitful pre-k experience, at a different school, I had no hope that my daughter would be interested in school this year. …Thirteen days into school Mrs. Byron had Adeline writing with spelling assistance from myself. She has guided not only my daughter, but myself, through a new school life, academics, and any speed bumps that arise. Mrs. Byron has treated my daughter with dignity.”
From Cecilie Joyner of Salem, parent of former student: “Mrs. Byron is wonderful person and a fantastic educator. After 30 years of teaching, her dedication and enthusiasm is as strong as ever.”
From Bev Broomhall of Goffstown, colleague: “Mrs. Marilyn Byron greets each new day as if it were her first day of teaching. With an infectious smile, a twinkle in her eyes and a love of children in her heart, she warmly welcomes her kindergarten students each day. …Mrs. Byron’s love mirrors the love of Christ. It remains the cornerstone that her students, their parents and her colleagues all know they can count on each and every day! It is what defines her as a exemplary early childhood educator, and it is what makes her stand out in our shared ministry!”
Patricia (Patte) Silvia
Strong Foundations Charters School, Pembroke
Miss Silvia was a middle school teacher for many years at Burnham Brook School in Canterbury and also taught at the Museum of Science for 15 years in the Camp In program, Courses program, and the Outreach program. She has been a Girl Scout leader and assistant soccer and softball coach in Henniker. She enjoys reading (of course), traveling, gardening and spending time with her friends and family in the outdoors. (Reprinted from the school’s website)
Nominator: Ellen Gonzalez of Loudon, grandparent of former student
“My grandson Michael was blessed to have Miss Silvia as his first grade teacher in 2015. …Ms. Silvia and Michael were like two kindred spirits upon meeting. She helped him develop strategies to curtail jumping up out of his seat, helped him manage his anxieties and inspired him every day. Even now that he is in third grade, we still run our thoughts by Ms Silvia to get ideas on how to help him with behavioral strategies. …She is amazing, remembering not just the students’ names but also parents and grandparents (like me) that do a lot of the drop-offs in the AM. She is a blessing to the school and all the students whose lives she touches, especially Michael's.”