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Masters in Teaching educators honored at ceremony
Fraser likens classroom to a kaleidoscope
Melissa Fraser, an English for speakers of other languages teacher at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School, talks Tuesday about teaching being a calling and not a career during the third annual “Masters in Teaching — Life Changers At Work” event at Featherbone Communiversity in Gainesville. Fraser was named a 2011 master teacher. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Ten area teachers were lifted up Tuesday morning as models of education excellence.

Recognized as "Masters in Teaching - Life Changers at Work," the teachers also shared their thoughts on teaching and the events and ideals that ignited their passions.

"I never chose teaching. Teaching chose me," said one of the honorees, Deb Kroll of Brenau Academy. "... It hasn't always been easy, but it sure has been wonderful."

The teachers came together in a third annual ceremony presented by Brenau University at the Warren Featherbone Communiversity on Chestnut Street in Gainesville.

The event seeks to promote the area's finest teaching professionals, ranging from preschool to college.

"We know that you are expressly gifted," said David Barnett, interim dean of the Brenau College of Education. "You are recognized by your peers. Your folks have brought you to us, and we acknowledge your gifts.

"Thank you so much for the work that you do."

The teachers who were honored are Kroll, Joyce Fowler of Lakeview Academy, Ken Frank of Brenau University, Melissa Fraser and Tracy Troutman of Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School, Joan Ivey of Lanier Technical College, Bill Morgan of Riverside Military Academy, Darrell Skogman of Chestatee High School, Cindy White of DaVinci Academy and Cathy Whiting of Gainesville State College.

After they were introduced, each one took turns speaking to a group of educators and others about their careers.

Fraser, holding up a brass kaleidoscope, likened the classroom to the instrument, which through reflection on colored glass creates various patterns when held to the eye.

"I believe that teaching allows students, both young and old, to look into that peephole and see the world through a lens that integrates, provides new insight to the many new colors ... of life," she said.

"As a teacher, I believe I have the privilege of showing that kaleidoscope to the students for the first time and watching their awesome thrill as I put my hand gently over theirs and show them how to rotate that lens."

Troutman showed a video of "circle time" at her pre-kindergarten class at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School.

"One of my Brenau professors ... said that we, teachers, are building a children's platform of knowledge, and I love that visual," she told the group. "I like to think of children as gathering tools to build the platform.

"As a child learns a new skill or a bit of information or has a hands-on, first-time life experience, they put it in their toolbox and they pull it out whenever they need it and go on to the next task or skill."

Morgan, who teaches German at Riverside Military Academy, said teaching doesn't just involve him issuing a lecture at the front of the classroom.

"Really, everybody is engaged," he said. "We're all learners; we're all teachers. We learn from each other. We learn from information. Hopefully, something I say in class or something somebody else says in class inspires kids to go home and do more research on their own."