My school is devastated. Not only physically, but also emotionally. We’re talking about a championship school. The most amazing educators who work together, sharing everything; teachers whose students come first. Unfortunately, budgets woes are forcing seven teachers out of education while another two teachers will be forced out of our school. This is a school that just raised its Academic Performance Index by 44 points to 789 (which is a fabulous feat for those of you who don’t know!).
I struggled with a way to communicate how much those nine people mean to us—they’re so amazing. I figure the best way is to just share one letter of recommendation that I’ve written for one of our two physical education teachers who are out of a job come May. Lacey is highly qualified as both a PE teacher and a counselor and has five years as a teacher in our district but is low on the totem pole. I like to think that the letter gives a window into a woman who represents what’s wonderful about the people at our school.
To Whom It May Concern:
While a letter of recommendation would typically focus on an individual’s academic achievements, this one won’t do that. I could go into detail about Lacey Coppolo’s extended educational foray into counseling, and how she has achieved at the collegiate level, but this letter is going to be down-to-earth.
I have known Lacey since Stonecreek Junior High School opened in 2006. We, as fellow educators, opened the school together. She was, and remains, a spark of energy on our campus because of her positive, can-do attitude as well as her warm personality embracing all others.
In 2007, Lacey and I began working very closely together. Not as colleagues, but as teacher and student. Lacey allowed me, as a 47-year-old, to join her seventh and eighth grade physical education class, where for the past four years I have been treated exactly like a student. The beautiful thing about Lacey is that I didn’t need to have perks or advantages as a teacher, because the way Lacey treats her students is just that: a privilege. Every single day I—and her 250-300 other students—are treated with respect, kindness, encouragement, and structure. We learn, play, achieve, and compete in a loving environment with Lacey.
I have seen her deal first hand with bullies; emotional, sobbing teens; students experiencing death; injuries (including mine when I had to get stitches after tripping on the street hockey court); and emergency situations. Does she scold? No, never. She treats all people with respect and positive encouragement in all cases. A bully she will take aside and talk to about behavior in a positive manner. A sobbing mess and students suffering tremendous loss will be compassionately listened to by Lacey. Injuries and emergencies are dealt with quickly, calmly, and efficiently.
I am sincerely a better person having had Lacey as a teacher (not to mention a much healthier one as well!). While I am a teacher who has been recognized for outstanding teaching at the school, district, county, and state level, it is I who has learned to be a better teacher—and human—because of the way Lacey models teaching.
I give my highest recommendation to Lacey Coppolo.
This is a sign of the times. Through no fault of their own, we are losing so many wonderful teachers like and including Lacey, and we are devastated.
Peggy Dewane-Pope is a teacher in the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District.