When kindergarten teacher Georgianna Wood found out she was one of four finalists for Dallas ISD’s 2003 Teacher of the Year, she was dumfounded.

 

 

          “I was just in shock, and the office [staff] was screaming. I mean, it’s great, but I’ve been teaching all these years …” she trails off, still sounding a bit shocked.

 

 

          Wood’s teaching career spans 29 years, the last 13 at Preston Hollow Elementary School . Though she was named the Preston Hollow Teacher of the Year in 1995, she had never received an honor on this scale.

 

 

          She was nominated for the award by principal Teresa Parker, who had this to say about Wood in her nomination statement: “Our teacher of the year is a dynamic force at our school … Her classroom is next to my office, and I frequently overhear her teaching her ESL kindergarten children. [They] are up moving around, acting out nursery rhymes, singing songs, reciting poetry, telling fairy tales and exercising to ‘follow the directions’ songs.”

 

 

          It was the desire to teach ESL students that served as inspiration for Wood’s teaching career. Her mother was born in , and her father was of Scottish and Irish heritage. When she began school in Florida , she spoke mostly Spanish and knows firsthand the challenges faced by ESL students.

 

 

          Says Parker: “She knows just about all of the Limited English Proficient families at school,” and has a “great rapport with parents.”

 

 

          Wood was chosen from the initial cut of 24 finalists, and then went through two rounds of questioning by judges. DISD Teacher of the Year judging panels include other teachers, principals, district administrators, parents, Texas Education Agency staff and even students.

 

 

          After the last round of judging, one teacher is selected as a finalist in each of these categories: pre-K through third grade, fourth through sixth, seventh through ninth grades and tenth through twelfth.

 

 

 “I’m enjoying it,” she says of the nomination and the associated attention.

 

 

What she enjoys more, however, is teaching itself.

 

 

“Every day is different, and you never know what you’re going to get,” she says. “It’s not like you’re going into an office. You just don’t know what you’re walking into every day.”

 

 

But there’s another, more significant reason she loves her work. Of her kindergartners, she says:

 

 

“Seeing them begin to be independent, seeing them learning to read … to watch them get that self confidence and watch them grow for eight months, it’s real rewarding.

 

 

“One of the reasons I like teaching kindergarten is, if you start them out ahead their first year, they’re gong to be ahead all the way up. I think it’s one of the most important years, and you can give them a good foundation.”

 

 

And what do her young charges think of her honor?

 

 

“They kind of know, but they’re just little,” she says. “They think every teacher’s wonderful.”

 

 

Many parents in the community have congratulated her, and she has equally kind words for them.

 

 

 “They’re real supportive, and they contribute a lot to our program here,” she says. “They do a lot of extracurricular services that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Cultural arts programs. Field day. They set up an exercise track in front of the school.

 

 

“They support us a lot,” she says.

 

 

As to whether she wins the final award or not, Wood says she’s happy with what’s already happened.

 

 

“Pre-K to [grade] three, that’s my specialty,” she says, “so I’m just really flattered to have been honored there.”

 

 

 

 


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