Hamilton Elementary School teacher Jennifer Paley said there is an old saying about teachers: “They say you can tell how good a teacher is by how many bags they take home.”
Patty Wood, a Hamilton Elementary first and second grade reading teacher, often takes home her weight in bags, said Patty’s husband Ron Wood, who also teaches at Hamilton.
“Always at home she’s making sure she is prepared and giving it her all,” Ron said of his wife.
Patty Wood, who has worked in numerous schools across the district and taught high school seniors and first-graders, on Friday was named Schenectady teacher of the year during a holiday assembly in front of the entire school. For the past four years Wood has worked at Hamilton, where she works closely as a literacy specialist for about 40 students in first and second grade. Each day she comes to school and helps students persist through the difficulties that come with learning to read.
“Everyday, no mater how hard of a day I had, I go home and the next day I come back so excited to read with you,” Patty told the Hamilton students packed into the gym.
Students and fellow teachers who recommended Wood for teacher of the year highlighted her patience and kindness with students, her devotion to her work and the support she provides her colleagues and the school as a whole.
“She helps when we need help,” fourth-grader Fatou Gomez wrote in nominating forms. “She never gives up with work. She helps me grow my reading.”
Wood said she helps students find the subjects they are interested in reading about so they will engage with the work. She teaches them strategies to help work through reading stumbles and stay focused on the words in front of them. She said encouraging the students and fostering their confidence and interest in reading can go a long way.
“I want them to always feel they can be readers and learners, and they can overcome their challenges,” Wood said after accepting the award. “It’s kind of a waste of my time to force them to read something they are not interested in.”
Fellow teachers said Wood is willing to help teachers in all grades – even though she is assigned to first- and second-graders – and shares books and lessons freely. She also organizes school-wide reading assessments and supports teachers as they work in the district’s various testing platforms. Wood helped Hamilton secure a grant that allows the school to deliver books to students’ homes so the families can read together.
Paley, who recommended Wood for the teaching honor and was the district’s 2005 teacher of the year, also remembers what kind of student Wood was; Paley worked as a substitute in Wood’s fifth-grade Van Corlaer Elementary School class. They now share an office.
“As a student, she was a hard worker,” Paley said. “She has always been a hard worker.”
Now, Wood helps her students find that same passion for learning and hard work.
“She was always hardworking and had time for us to have fun and learn,” said Gomez, a fourth-grader who worked with Wood last school year.
And hard work, when it comes to reading, means not giving up.
“When we get stuck on a word, she says tap it out,” second-grader Daniel Gonzalez said.