Congratulations to Kathleen Wylie, SCSD Teacher of the Year
    Posted on 01/10/2018
    Photo of Kahthleen Wylie, SCSD Teacher of the Year

    Kathleen Wylie, a 7th grade social studies teacher at Central Park Middle School was surprised Tuesday afternoon when Schenectady Superintendent Larry Spring, colleagues and family members showed up to her classroom with the news that she was selected as the Schenectady City School District Teacher of the Year. 

    “Kathleen is a dedicated and inspiring teacher and role model who understands our students and what they need in order to feel safe and grow.  Kathleen lives the mission of this district on a daily basis.  Her daily work is about equity, empowerment and empathy," said Spring.  “She is very deserving of this recognition.  We are fortunate to have her in our schools and community, making a difference in the lives of so many.”

    Wylie, who up until three years ago, taught 9th grade in a local suburban school district, saw teaching students in Schenectady, the city in which she lives, as the opportunity she didn’t want to miss.   From the day she started work in Schenectady, Wylie has embraced the students and staff and said her experience in Schenectady has made her more fulfilled, energized and compassionate, not only as an educator, but as an individual.  Parents, students, colleagues and community members agree.

    Because of that energy, compassion, commitment, care and tireless work ethic, parents, students and colleagues hold tremendous respect and admiration for Wylie.  Parents express comfort knowing that Wiley is with their children each day in the classroom and appreciate that she also has three middle school children who
    attend the same school.

    Wiley is actively involved in the community and in her school.  

    She has coached basketball at the YMCA and started, coached and ran a girls youth basketball program for the Schenectady community.  She is an engaging classroom community leader, serves as a mentor to new teachers, is a responsive classroom consultant, is a member of the 2017 district assessment cadre, summer curriculum development team, and a leader of professional development.  Wylie is also a Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) committee member and trainer for Central Park Planbook and served on the Building Leadership Team.

    Wylie is always putting students first.  Her commitment, interest and connection is evident to all.  She finds as many opportunities as possible to work with and help students.  She runs lunch groups for kids who don’t want to spend to lunch break in the cafeteria.  She serves as a volunteer to run concession stands for youth and school sports and raised more than $5,000 for Schenectady students to participate in youth sports.  She also volunteers her time at many school functions. 

    “From the moment I met Kathleen Wylie, I could sense her leadership and passion,” said co-teacher Marybeth Aricidiancano.  “She is a pillar of light guiding the team to the ‘holy land’ of education.”

    Aricidiancano, who shares a classroom with Wylie, said that new and veteran staff look to Wylie for her balanced view on how to approach challenging students, parents and peers. 

    Wylie inspires all students to learn by connecting with each of them, their friends and families. She has said that living in the community helps her better get to know her students. 

    ​Walk by her classroom and you will find her singing, dancing, telling jokes, high-fiving, making secret handshakes, rapping and laughing with her students. Her classroom is a place where students want to be.  Wylie said that each of her students know that she welcomes them and that they are special and important.  “I believe my words each day offer them an opportunity to see themselves as uniquely special and full of potential,” she added.

    When she designs her classroom, she considers the needs of her students and considers the impact that trauma has on many of them.  “Their environment must feel secure first,” said Wylie.  “The physical space of the classroom is a welcoming, warm community-like atmosphere.”  She has added flexible seating which includes yoga balls, arm chairs, an oversized living room style chair, wicker chairs, plush chairs and wobble stools.  The classroom also has carpets, homemade curtains and many comforting themes. 

    Wylie also added a sensory space that includes comfortable seating, stress relief tools including sensory water bottles, stress balls, play dough and coloring books.  “I have many students who ask to use the space when they are struggling with group communication or a peer relationship,” she said.

    “It’s a place where students can self-select to separate themselves from their peers to a quiet place that is still in the classroom so they won’t miss instruction,” explained Arcidiancano. 

    As the result of extensive responsive classroom training, Wylie said that she has embraced the idea of explicitly teaching routines and procedures.  “My students require a consistent set of expectations so that they can count on the learning environment each day,” she said. 

    Wylie also embraces the need to teach students social emotional skills in the classroom and refers to her classroom as ”the community.”  “From the start of the year, I teach the role of community members as it relates to their own success and the success of the community,” she said. 

    Former students look up to Wylie and check in with her regularly.  “Students seek out Mrs. Wylie daily, many returning in the 8th grade year regularly to check in.  Many come in at lunchtime to “hang” with Mrs. Wylie and share their day. 

    Wylie said a crucial element of her education philosophy is “giving kids a new chance every minute and every day.”  She said that giving students a new chance is essential for them to feel encouraged to have a growth mindset about their own success. 

    “I am grateful for every student who lets me be a part of their life,” said Wylie.  “They teach me so much.  Their differences make me a better person and teacher.  They are 100% the best part of my day.”

    “She is a leader and a treasure here at Central Park Middle School,” said Arcidiacano of her colleague.  “For the Star Wars fans out there, I’d say Kathleen is the Yoda of CPMS.”

    “Teaching is my passion.  Teaching in Schenectady is my calling,” said Wylie.  “It is my pleasure and joy to be a part of the lives of our kids and have the opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in my community.”

    She was nominated for “Teacher of the Year” honors by Central Park Principal Tamara Thorpe-Odom.

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