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The Robert Norris Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient 2020

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by Melinda Kaufman, Interim Lower School Director


What makes an excellent educator?  We have all had teachers who are somewhat forgettable - teachers who may have taught us something about some subject, but who didn’t have much of an impact on us and who we really don’t remember much about. And then, there are our favorite teachers - the ones who made us feel special, who made us want to come to school and learn, who set high expectations for us because they knew we could meet them, who saw us for who we really were and loved us, and who pushed us to be the best students and human beings we could be.  


The recipient of this year’s Norris Award is one of these favorite teachers.  This person loves teaching and puts countless hours into preparing engaging and integrated lessons that are challenging and fun. This educator willingly collaborates with colleagues to share ideas and resources, to build on each other’s thinking, and to ultimately create innovative learning opportunities for our students. This teacher partners with parents to support students and ensure a positive experience for the entire family.  And this person loves McGillis and contributes to the overall well being of our School and Kehialh in many different ways outside of their classroom.


And yet, it is what happens in this teacher’s classroom, and within their grade, that is truly magical. This person has a gift for connecting with students - they see and accept every student for who they are, they make the extra effort to connect with each student, and they set high expectations that inevitably students will reach because this teacher believes in them, and students know that.  This teacher allows and even encourages students to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes, and to keep moving forward because that’s what we do.  


This person embodies our McGillis Values in everything they do.  Every time I go into this teacher’s space, I am amazed by the feeling of community they’re able to build - no matter the mix of students, no matter what they’re doing, whether it’s in the classroom or outside at recess - you can feel the sense of Kehilah, Derech Eretz (respect for all), Gemilut Hasadim (doing good & kind deeds), and Limud L’shma (learning for the sake of learning).  It is a beautiful thing to see, day after day, and year after year.


Whether you’ve had this teacher in 5th grade, been part of her CSI Circus Arts course, enjoyed being in her Family Group, participated in her overnight experience at McGillis, or worked with her on a team … we’ve all been touched by Anne Goldberg’s presence at McGillis and her many contributions to the School.  Anne - thank you for what you bring to McGillis, your colleagues, and the 5th-grade students each and every day - congratulations!