Life has been richer at Amelia Street School ever since Catherine M. Marchetti was hired to teach there three years ago.
Thursday, Marchetti became a little richer for the experience, too.
She was named Richmond’s Teacher of the Year during a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza hotel. She won $1,000 and goes into the running for the regional teacher of the year honor.
Announcing Marchetti, an early-childhood exceptional educational teacher, as the winner from a field of 46 nominees, including 10 finalists, Superintendent Dana T. Bedden said, “I wish we could ball them all up and we’d have a super teacher.”
Marchetti kept her remarks brief, but offered more in the written nomination submitted by her school.
“I firmly believe that every child, regardless of developmental ability, has the potential to learn and succeed,” she said in her nomination. “Children with disabilities or delays need to be instilled with a high quality education and a love of learning as a way of helping them to develop and demonstrate their unique potential and abilities.”
She was honored for putting together a grants research committee, creating a field day with games, including an obstacle course, for students with multiple disabilities, and developing a sensory room.
The school serves disabled students in all grades.
Sharon Barber, an art teacher at Elkhardt Middle School, was the first runner-up. She has been a teacher for 33 years, including the past 15 at Elkhardt. She won $750.
Ashley Pride, from Blackwell Elementary School, was the second runner-up. In four years at the school, she has taught in the Virginia Preschool Initiative program, kindergarten and fourth grade. She won $500.
The other finalists were Tamara Tuck, Boushall Middle; Julie Crowder, Fox Elementary; Tomondra Peyton, Patrick Henry School of Science & Arts; Lisa Johnson-Hicks, Miles Jones Elementary; Elizabeth Dunn, Mary Munford Elementary; Wallesa Jones, Swansboro Elementary; and Katherine Moore, Thompson Middle.
Bedden invited all 46 finalists to join a new teacher advisory council he just created. He promised he would meet with the group at least twice a year, and he said he wanted the teachers to come prepared to talk about ways to improve the school system.
The finalists also heard from last year’s winner, Jason Kissoon of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.
He said from a busy year of working with students, meeting with community groups and otherwise representing the school system, one strategy had emerged as most essential to his success in the classroom.
“The value and importance of having connections, relationships,” he said.
He also reminded everyone to keep perspective, even on the toughest days.
“Teaching and learning should bring joy,” he said.