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Reed Intermediate Teacher Receives Weller Excellence In Teaching Award



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Cheryl McCaffrey, a fifth and sixth grade Project Challenge teacher at Reed Intermediate School (RIS) in Newtown was recently awarded the 2020 Weller Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of her project entitled “Do the Times Make the Leader or Does the Leader Make the Times?” The goal of her project was to have the students analyze a president including biography, quotes, the crisis the president faced, how he solved the crisis, and analyze if the times made the leader or the leader made the times, according to a press release issued by the Weller Foundation.

“I was truly surprised and humbled at winning the award,” said McCaffrey on April 30. “I was also pleased to see that my hard work and belief in this project was recognized,” she said, adding, “However, I am always more pleased with the effort and hard work that my students put into this project. The results always show their effort. I am so happy to work in a district that encourages me to be creative with my teaching.”

The winning project was one enhanced from a previous submission that McCaffrey said had received positive feedback from her students, so she was “encouraged to try again this year.” Every year, she said, the competition for this Weller Award is tough.

The Weller Excellence in Teaching Award (formerly The Weller Outstanding Teacher Award) program was introduced to the Newtown Public School System in 1991. The award recognizes the teaching quality and innovation exhibited by classroom teachers of grades kindergarten through grade 5.

The award is intended to encourage teaching excellence vital to youth.

As recipient of this award, McCaffrey was presented with a $1,000 award and a Certificate of Honor.

Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue is pleased that Weller recognized McCaffrey, noting that the RIS teacher is “creative and thoughtful in her instructional design.

“We are thrilled,” Dr Rodrigue said. “It’s always wonderful when we can honor one of our own. Cheryl goes above and beyond for her students and families,” she said.

The RIS teacher is also a “beloved member of the entire school community,” added the superintendent. “We’re so proud of what she’s done and what she’ll continue to do going forward.”

“Going forward I will continue to tweak and use this project for fifth grade,” McCaffrey said, “and create new projects for other topics and grade 6. As educators we always try to find projects and activities that stretch our students’ thinking. Finding an activity that is highly engaging and challenging is always gratifying.”

While the current pandemic situation means that McCaffrey cannot be honored at a special ceremony, Dr Rodrigue said the teacher will be honored “in some way” at a Board of Education meeting in the future.

The Weller Foundation, Incorporated is a non-profit organization that was established in 1962 to provide financial assistance to educational, charitable, and civic organizations. It is well known in the area for its numerous scholarship programs, student awards, and other supporting contributions.

Fifth and sixth grade Project Challenge teacher Cheryl McCaffrey has been awarded the 2020 Weller Excellence in Teaching Award. —photo courtesy Cheryl McCaffrey
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