Chagrin Falls Schools Names Justin Wise as Teacher of the Year

At the August 16 staff convocation meeting, Chagrin Falls Schools surprised Justin Wise, a first-grade teacher turned virtual kindergarten teacher last school year with one of the highest awards given by the District.  Principal Rachel Jones presented both of these employees with the award.  

Excerpts from Justin Wise’s nomination read… 

“Mr. Wise volunteered to teach kindergarten virtually for the entire school year. This was a feat - not exaggerating! First, Mr. Wise is a long-time first-grade teacher who was switching to teach kindergarten for one year because he needed an additional kindergarten teacher and one less first-grade teacher. He had to learn all of the kindergarten curriculum, adjust to teaching kindergartners and then figure out how to teach them virtually. These were five-year-olds who had/have never been inside Gurney Elementary School at all. They didn't know how to navigate and use a Chromebook, organize their materials -they didn't know how to read! Some were shy and some were overbearing. They all had some adult support at home which meant that Mr. Wise was doing all of this in front of parents, grandparents and sitters. He was in an unbelievably stressful situation. And in that situation, he taught his students to use the Chromebook, to participate in a zoom, to participate in break out rooms, to use school materials at home, to show their work on camera, to make friends and connections with others, to add, to subtract, to read and to write and more. Mr. Wise stepped up and showed incredible enthusiasm and care for these children all year long. He built rapport with students he had never met in person. When I told these parents that Mr. Wise would be teaching first grade next year, I was flooded with these parents requesting that their child loop with him because they had built such a strong relationship with him - through the computer. He spent one-on-one time with students when they needed it. He grouped students to share stories from their weekends and make friends. He praised them and used their work as models in lessons. Mr. Wise. He truly saved kindergarten for over 20 Gurney Elementary School students last school year.”

“Mr. Wise did an AMAZING job teaching our virtual Kindergartners this year. I am in awe at how engaging he is over a Chromebook. He truly made a connection with all the children in a year in which I didn’t think it would be possible, especially with our youngest learners. Personally, my daughter learned and grew so much, purely based on the instruction of Mr. Wise. Her first year of school ended up being a complete success! He is truly an exemplary teacher!”

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