Virginia Beach Educator Wins 2012 Outstanding Middle School Teacher Award from U.Va.'s Curry School Foundation

July 25, 2012 — Mary Catherine W. Peterson of Princess Anne Middle School in Virginia Beach has been selected from a pool of national nominees to receive the 2012 Outstanding Middle School Teacher Award from the Curry School of Education Foundation. The award is presented annually to an exemplary graduate of the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education.

Peterson's teaching career with Virginia Beach City Public Schools spans 26 years. Since 2006, she has served as a gifted resource teacher at Princess Anne Middle School, where she collaborates with teachers throughout the building. Her school includes 300 identified gifted students.

"The lessons delivered by the teachers with whom she collaborates bear her mark: rigor, engagement, collaboration, high-level thinking, creativity and problem-solving," D. Alex Bergren, principal at Princess Anne, said. "Her work at the school level has been so effective, in fact, that central office personnel routinely call on her to assist in the formation of divisionwide professional development, to serve on committees, and to take leadership roles."

In 2008, Peterson was named the Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted for Region II by the Virginia Association for the Gifted.

Peterson received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from U.Va. in 1986.

She has been invited to attend a dinner and receive her award at the Curry School of Education on Oct. 25.

Author Ron Nash uses one of Spedden's review activities from his 12th-grade U.S. government class as an examplar in his book, The Active Classroom Field Book (Corwin Press, 2010). Here's how he concludes his description:

"Gary Spedden, a high-school teacher, has become proficient at facilitating movement and student-to-student processing in his history classroom….[He] understands that having students move, collaborate, compare and defend answers, and otherwise become actively involved in their own learning is far more effective, interesting, and productive for students. During the entire activity, Spedden is able to take a balcony view of the proceedings; he circulates, listens, provides gentle reminders as to process, and works with students one on one. He makes plenty of mental notes relating to content and process alike, something that enables him to address whatever needs to be addressed when the activity has been completed."