Focus and dedication, the willingness to go above and beyond for students and parents alike and the ability to work that all-too-elusive classroom magic.
Stacy Tuohy, the News-Review 2010 Educator of the Year, has it all.
The second-grade teacher at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School not only engages her students and helps instill in them that eagerness to learn, she also helps make her fellow teachers better at their craft and so extends her magic to children who aren’t even in her classroom, said a colleague, Debra Spinelli.
“Stacy Tuohy is a master teacher,” said Ms. Spinelli, who also teaches second-graders at Roanoke Avenue. “She is a thinker. She never stops wondering, ‘What else can I do to help my students?’ She loves to collaborate and have discussions about what we will teach and how we will teach it. And she’s a doer. She’ll make a suggestion one minute and follow through with it the next.
“I am a better teacher because of her,” she said.
Ms. Tuohy’s dedication and teaching skills resonate with parents as well.
Dawn Bozuhoski, whose three children all were lucky enough to have been in Ms. Tuohy’s class, said she had been planning to nominate her as Educator of the Year ever since her firstborn, who has Asperger’s syndrome and is now in sixth grade, graduated from her classroom.
“My son is extremely intelligent … but, especially in the second grade, he needed a lot of extra help; he needed someone who was understanding and someone who could see through the Asperger’s syndrome and see the brilliant, wonderful person he is. And she always saw that. And he really thrived in her class.
“I feel that without her help, we may have not been able to accomplish what we did as far as getting support services and putting him on the right path,” Ms. Bozuhoski said.
Her youngest is now in Ms. Tuohy’s class and speaks constantly of her beloved teacher, Ms. Bozuhoski said. She wants to become a teacher herself when she grows up.
“She even calls me Mrs. Tuohy sometimes,” Ms. Bozuhoski said. “There aren’t adequate words to describe the effort, concern, empathy, love and genuine interest Mrs. Tuohy gives to each student in her class.”
She pointed as examples to a fall semester “realistic fiction” segment in which the children write pieces and read them aloud to their parents and other classes. In the spring, Ms. Tuohy runs a poetry jam in which students read works to an auditorium audience. Ms. Tuohy submits all the poems to publishing houses. “My son’s poem was chosen for publication,” Ms. Bozuhoski said, which she described as “remarkable” because reading and writing skills had not come easily to him. “She is always available to parents and never leaves a situation unresolved or without reply,” she added.
Hired in 1991, Ms. Tuohy, who lives in Port Jefferson Station, taught kindergarten at Roanoke for more than a decade before switching to second grade, according to Barbara Barosa, who heads the district’s teachers union and whose husband taught Ms. Tuohy in elementary school decades ago.
“I’ve known Stacy for quite some time, and she is just a wonderful teacher and a wonderful choice for Educator of the Year,” Ms. Barosa said. “Stacy is truly a dedicated, hardworking, giving teacher who has addressed the needs of her students in a wide variety of ways. She would never look for an award like this, she just does her job and does it well.”
Roanoke Avenue Principal Thomas Payton applauded the selection of Ms. Tuohy. He called her a “consummate professional.”
“Her sole focus is her students,” he said, “meeting their needs and ensuring they are successful learners socially and academically.”