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Kudos for teachers

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Forget one apple. These teachers deserve a bushel full.

Douglas County School District recently handed out teacher of the year awards, including three to South Shore educators: Theresa Eymann, Zephyr Cover Elementary School; Carly Kester, Kingsbury Middle School; and Carey Haws, Whittell High School.

The three teachers share a combined 34 years of working with young minds. None are in it for the money. All are in it for the children.

n A strong heart

Eymann is in her fourth year teaching at Zephyr Cove. Before her move to the lake, she taught at Connecticut for two years, then two more in Minden.

Paying her way through a master’s program in science and education as a substitute teacher peaked her interest in education.

“I started to substitute during the day and I had a blast,” she said. “I asked myself what I am doing in non-profit and fell in love with teaching. There’s never a dull minute.”

After substituting for about a year, Eymann left her post as educational program director for the American Heart Association and became an elementary school teacher.

“My favorite thing is when a child finally understands how to do something, say long division, and the pride you see when they accomplish something that was difficult,” she said during lunch period at Zephyr. “You can see them stand-up straighter. Their self-esteem rises.”

n The best of both worlds

For two years Carly Kester has filled both the counselor and teacher role at Kingsbury Middle School. Her parents work in the education field, and ever since she was little her father told her to think about working in education. Her teachers told her to do something else, that she was too smart to teach.

“I know myself and I can’t do an accountant job,” Kester said. “I can’t sit at a desk. I need to interact with kids. Plus, I think teaching is the most important job there is. It’s the foundation of everything you do.”

As a counselor, Kester is in a position to help deal with students’ problems. As a teacher, she is allowed to observe and participate in students’ growth. Often, Kester said, the two positions overlap.

In observing students and talking with parents, Kester turns educational ideas, such as career fairs and a parental drug workshop, into reality. She revels in the small-school atmosphere at Kingsbury and enjoys moments when she shares a laugh with her students.

“I think middle school kids are super funny,” she said. “We’re on the same level.”

n Beating the odds

Students at Whittell High School should recognize Haws by now. For almost two decades Haws has been the special education teacher at Whittell High School. Ever since first grade Haws wanted to be a teacher . Her bachelor of arts and master’s degree in special education form the University of Reno, Nevada, only proved her passion for education.

“The beauty of working with teen-agers in any program is there are so many things going on in their lives,” she said. “They grow so fast. I’m lucky to be with them the four years they’re here and I think I make a difference.”

Patience, a positive outlook and communication with parents are crucial to the rate of success Haws experienced with her 14 students this year. A new challenge surfaced this year when the only sign language interpreter decided to leave. But with 23 years of special education under her belt, Haws should be able to handle the new difficulty.

“Statistically, the average special education teacher stays in special education for seven years,” she said. “I guess I’ve beaten those odds and I guess there must be a reason. I think it must have been a calling.”

— Contact William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com or (530) 542-8014.


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