Home News Local news Lurlene Gerard Is District's Teacher of the Year

Lurlene Gerard Is District's Teacher of the Year

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Nov. 15, 2006 — For the second year in a row, music took center stage in the selection of the 2006 V.I. Teachers of the Year. Lurlene Gerard, a first-grade teacher and choir director at Gladys Abraham Elementary School, is the St. Thomas-St. John district honoree; while Valrica Bryson, a music instructor at St. Croix Educational Complex, will represent that district.
Bryson has also been selected to represent the territory at the State Teacher of the Year conference in spring 2007. (For more on Bryson, see: "Valrica Bryson Selected as Territory's Top Teacher").
Gerard, who also currently directs the school's choir and band, is a graduate of Charlotte Amalie High School ('85) and UVI ('92). She's also no stranger to recent honors, being recognized as Rotary Club of St. Thomas II's V.I. 2006 Teacher of the Year and Abraham School's Teacher of the Year for 2005-2006. She has taught at Abraham for the past 15 years.
"Teaching music always was my passion," Gerard said, "but with the uncertainty of music education in the V.I. public school system, I switched my focus to elementary education, which was a plus because I incorporate music into my lessons."
Reflecting on her talents, she said, "I really think it's a gift that I have to teach. It comes naturally to me. I don't think it just happens; once you have the drive, it comes naturally. Every year I try to do an excellent job, so it's just my turn."
In addition to her work with the school's choir and band, Gerard is also an after-school coordinator for the V.I. Fire Service Junior Firefighters youth program and a band director for Carnival favorite, the Sebastien Majorettes National Baton Twirling Association.
Gerard's musical ability drew attention at an early age. "When I was 12 years old at Wayne Aspinall Junior High School, Leroy Trotman of the UVI band told me I had great potential," Gerard said. "He asked me why I didn't try getting in the UVI band. I thought I was pretty good, so I asked my mother and she said, 'Go ahead.'"
Gerard continued, "I played the clarinet then, and I'm still going strong. I play with the National Guard 75th Army Band, going full force."
On Monday, Education Commissioner Noreen Michael announced the selections in concert with the department's observance of American Education Week.
In a press release, Michael congratulated the honorees. "It is most fitting that we recognize our teachers of the year for their dedication to providing our students with the necessary tools to compete and succeed," she wrote.
The honorees are selected during a three-month process by a Department of Education committee. Public school principals nominate the teachers. They are graded on a number of elements including involvement in school affairs, teaching philosophy and leadership potential.
"Everyone, at some point in their lives," Michael said, "has been taught and impacted by a teacher. However, like many other public service professionals, teachers are often taken for granted, and many feel as if they are not valued."
Gerard, along with the other teacher of the year finalists, certainly won't feel that way this year when the group is formally honored Friday at a dinner at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa. The St. Thomas-St. John district finalists are: English teacher Gayle Dancey-Benjamin (Charlotte Amalie High School), music teacher John Cahill, (Charlotte Amalie High School), elementary school teachers Sharon Freeman-Callwood (Yvonne Milliner-Bowsky Elementary School) and Sharon Richardson (Joseph Sibilly Elementary School).
Georgia Francis, 24-year Charlotte Amalie High School band instructor, was the St. Thomas-St. John district 2005 honoree, as well as the representative for the 2006 State Teacher of the Year conference.
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