Harwood Union High School students and teachers gathered just after noon Monday for a school assembly, but it also included something special. They were honoring one of their own -- a teacher nominated for a national award by her co-workers.
"Two teachers actually did it together -- jointly -- and recognized a coworker for a program called Speak Out, that she initiated several years ago that has had a tremendous influence with students with disabilities," said Harwood Co-Principal Amy Rex.
Colleagues and students nominated Maureen Charron-Shea for the LifeChanger of the Year Award for her work as a special education teacher. Six years ago she helped her special ed students produce a documentary as a service learning project. For the first time, it gave them a voice to tell their own stories.
"I think it is when she hears students stand up in front of people and share their stories -- there is something powerful about that -- I think for all of us in education -- when a young person feels confident enough, safe enough to share their stories with others," said Steve Rand, a Harwood English teacher.
Charron-Shea was recognized in front of the school for the work she has done with her students, past and present. "Each year LifeChanger of the Year will honor ten outstanding educators, and today we are here to recognize one of them. Maureen Charron-Shea was selected as a top three finalist out of hundreds of nominees across the country," said Mallorie Manosh with National Life Group, the administrator of the award.
As one of the top three finalists, Charron-Shea has been invited to a national awards ceremony in Florida in March where the grand prize winner, first runner up and second runner up will be announced. The top cash prize is $10,000, split between the school and the teacher. First runner up gets $7,000 and the second runner up gets $5,000.
"I am totally shocked," said Charron-Shea. "I had no idea I knew I was nominated, but to come to this assembly and get this award, I am so shocked."
She credited her students for her success, and said special education has come a long way since she first started teaching. "When I started 30 years ago I was once asked to work in a bathroom, or even a closet, so today things have changed thank goodness. We are working with students and telling their stories -- I always say publicly with pride -- because these students now instead of being ashamed by a label are empowered by it."
The students have now produced two documentaries, children's books and even music. And Charron-Shea says its just the beginning.
Tuesday, June 18 2013 11:55 PM EDT2013-06-19 03:55:09 GMT
An award winning journalist from Vermont has died.Michael Hastings was killed early Tuesday morning in a car accident in Los Angeles.Hastings was best known for his Rolling Stones article on General StanleyMore >>
Michael Hastings was killed early Tuesday morning in a car accident in Los Angeles.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 11:54 PM EDT2013-06-19 03:54:26 GMT
Bennington Rural Fire Station was packed with people and support for the 15 members recently suspended over their part in an annual stunt. "Do you realize these are the real heroes of America?" askedMore >>
Bennington Rural Fire Station was packed with people and support for the 15 members recently suspended over their part in an annual stunt.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 11:53 PM EDT2013-06-19 03:53:55 GMT
Glen Goodall served in the South Pacific during World War II, now the Williamstown vet is in Washington D.C. for two very special honors.Tuesday marked the 94-year-old's first trip to the nation's capitalMore >>
Glen Goodall served in the South Pacific during World War II, now the Williamstown vet is in Washington DC for two very special honors.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:41 PM EDT2013-06-18 23:41:56 GMT
Former Bennington Rural Fire Department chief Joseph Hayes pleaded not guilty Monday to embezzlement charges stemming from a department-sponsored raffle when he was chief. Participants told police theyMore >>
A former chief at the Bennington Rural Fire Department faces embezzlement charges and 16 volunteers are in hot water over another incident. As allegations of misconduct stack up, some residents are worried about their safety.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-06-18 23:54:27 GMT
Court documents indicate New York's Chinese mafia may be involved in prostitution at a Chittenden County spa. Tuesday morning, landlord Thomas Booska pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge. A tenantMore >>
A landlord has denied charges related to prostitution at an alleged sex spa in Williston. And court documents indicate New York's Chinese Mafia may be involved in prostitution in Vermont.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 12:13 PM EDT2013-06-18 16:13:18 GMT
A Hopkinton, New York man is behind bars, accused of promoting prostitution. Police say Monday, they searched 60-year-old Dean Lamphere's house and business -- Lamphere's General Trucking and Repair.More >>
A Hopkinton, N.Y., man is behind bars, accused of promoting prostitution.More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 10:00 AM EDT2013-06-18 14:00:51 GMT
A New Haven man says he was trying to stop another man from cutting down his neighbor's trees, but police say firing shots wasn't the way to do it. Police say on Sunday, 72-year-old David Milson firedMore >>
A New Haven man says he was trying to stop another man from cutting down his neighbor's trees, but police say firing shots wasn't the way to do it.More >>