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Ridgeway Teacher of the Year Valerie Schaefer

Remarks by RS Principal Nikki Mazur

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Ridgeway's Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Valerie Schaefer. Tonight she is joined by her husband Carl, her three sons Carter, Mason, and Parker, her mom, her mother-in-law, sister, and brother- in -law. I know your support means so much to Val. Welcome.

Who is my Teacher of the Year? She is an experienced educator with 20 years of teaching experience that includes 5 years at Ridgeway, and 15 years in the Lakewood School District. She is a graduate of Georgian Court University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education, and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning from Nova Southeastern University.

This year Ridgeway's outstanding educator works closely with fourth grade basic skills students as well as fifth grade special education students. Over the years, she has worked on all grade levels, being an influencer and an interventionist on whatever grade level she teaches.

Mrs. Schaefer is a Testing Coordinator, an Anti-Bullying Specialist, and our all around Go To Expert on a number of topics. In every sense, she is a teacher leader. If you need a suggestion about how to best support a student, or use data to drive instruction, or arrange your room in a way that will best support multiple learning styles, you go to Mrs. Schaefer. She is one of the few people I know who can be a creative and completely out-of-the box thinker, while still being detail-oriented, logical, and accurate. She is an innovator and a problem solver and is truly an insightful and intelligent educator.

In fact, one example of "Val the Problem Solver" happened last last year when she became concerned that funding for the fifth grade breakfast was more limited than in years passed. Without hesitation, she worked with her co-teacher and together they created our Fifth Grade Talent Show and Bake Sale. It was a huge success and because of Val's vision, enthusiasm, and passion, we raised well beyond what we needed for the fifth grade class. That event, because of Mrs. Schaefer, has quickly become an annual favorite.

In the classroom, Mrs. Schaefer works hand in hand with her co-teachers to create one creative and authentic lesson after the other. Whether it be a STEAM activity, a math lesson, or how to use Notice and Note strategies to work closely with text, Mrs. Schaefer offers students engaging ways to learn for life. In her role as ABS, Mrs. Schaefer has proven time and time again that she is an active listener, an advocate for kids, and someone they trust. If you've seen any student interact with Mrs. Schaefer, it is so evident that the rapport she has with them is nothing short of magical.

As the building principal, I was thrilled when I received a letter from a parent nominating Mrs. Schaefer as Teacher of the Year. Very eloquently, the parent described Mrs. Schaefer's impact on her daughter's experience while in her class, and talked about how her positive impact changed her mindset. A colleague also shared her nomination of Mrs. Schaefer with me, and explained how impressive it is to work with a teacher who does not give up, brings people together, and knows no boundaries when it comes to doing the best for students and supporting colleagues.

On a personal note, I can only say that Mrs. Valerie Schaefer is the real deal. She genuinely cares about every student, and regardless of the situation, there is never a doubt that Val will go above and beyond to get results. I believe that she truly loves being a teacher and that is so obvious day in and day out.

I know that Mrs. Schaefer recently heard a quote that stated: "Engineers make bridges. Artists make paintings. Scientists make rockets. But teachers make them all." This resonated with her because it brought to light the importance of the job of an elementary school teacher and the profound impact of teachers each and every day.

On behalf of our students, families, and staff, thank you Mrs. Schaefer for making that profound impact.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Mrs. Valerie Schaefer, our Ridgeway Teacher of the Year.