Winchester Thurston School congratulates Lower School art teacher Tina Plaks, recipient of the 2012 Jane L. Scarborough Award for teaching excellence, and North Hills Campus fourth grade teacher Susan Ferguson, awarded the Judy Apt Nathenson Memorial Chair for Excellence in Childhood Education.
Plaks, who has been teaching at WT for 20 years, was chosen by a committee of faculty, students, parents, and trustees for her dedication and enthusiasm for the arts, creative thinking, and teaching. Brock Perkins, the 2011 Scarborough Award recipient, presented the award to Plaks at the 125th annual commencement exercises. Noted by her colleagues, “She seamlessly weaves passion, humor, brilliance, and rigor into her classroom, and has become a longstanding WT tradition. WT children are able to talk about their works of art in ways that prove they truly have been transformed and impacted by their experience with her. They fondly remember the stories she reads to them from your green chair, and they especially recall the times she dressed in costume and impersonated famous artists.”
In the words of one of her students, “I’ve always liked art and wanted to be an artist, but being an art teacher only became an option to me when I came to this school. I love art class. Mrs. Plaks has made every second of art class fun.”
A WT teacher since 1998, Ferguson is an excellent problem solver who continually searches for ways to be a better teacher and to provide a stimulating and productive environment for her students. Colleagues describe her as curious, considerate, innovative and resourceful, and dedicated to her students.
In her classroom, Ferguson connects her curriculum with technology integration. As students engage in the study of Greek gods and goddesses, or lattice multiplication, she infuses their studies with interesting activities and research using netbooks, QR codes, or even Khan’s Academy.
Ferguson’s commitment to improving teaching at WT and her devotion to her fourth grade students are reflected in a parent’s recent commendation, “Mrs. Ferguson has made a fantastic contribution to our son’s education. She enthusiastically models excellence and continues to inspire him on a daily basis. We especially value her team approach to teaching and independent thinking.”