Alloway Creek Elementary School Kindergarten teacher Justine Garman has won the 2020 Teacher Impact Award presented by Rotary District 7390 and WITF.
The award was for Garman’s “dedication to her students and her community.”
Garman was the Adams County winner, selected out of almost 250 nominations and joining teachers from six other Pennsylvania counties.
“I got an email from WITF about the award. My first thought was that it was SPAM,” said Garman.
Garman said she then looked up the award and applied for it. “I was very, very honored. There are so many deserving teachers,” said Garman.
Garman has been teaching Kindergarten for 13 years. “My first class of students graduated from high school this year, which is awesome,” said Garman.
“The best rewards are the students themselves. What they can do at the end of the year is a reward in itself. Getting parent feedback makes you feel great. I try to save all of the things the kids make for me. It’s the intrinsic rewards that keep you going,” said Garman.
The nomination letter for Garman said she “treats all her students as if they are her own,” she “helps them grow at their own pace” and she is “incredibly patient and kind!”
The nominator also said Garman “went above and beyond for my son by coming to his karate class and participating for teacher appreciation week and by coming to his swimming lessons. This meant so much to him and to me also!”
“I always try to find out what the kids enjoy doing outside of school. I try to make a connection that way. I go to the skating party or the flag football game. When the kids see me at their events they love it. And I get to chat with the parents,” said Garman.
“I try to learn about the children’s backgrounds and celebrate that. We celebrate holidays such as Chinese New Year. I start at a young age for them to realize life in Littlestown isn’t all there is out there. I have kids come back and teach us about their cultures,” said Garman.’
Garman said the move to online learning at the end of the 2019-2020 school year was “definitely different. Our students weren’t one-to-one with tech devices. We had to make sure the family had someone at home.”
“There were challenges trying to reach all the kids, whether it was devices, WIFI, or parents working. We could set the lesson plans out there but we couldn’t be sure the students would do them,” said Garman. “Our school did a great job.”
“The children had to get on Zoom. They were excited to see all their friends on the video every week. We also did small group and one-to-one meetings,” said Garman.
“We worked with our grade-level team of seven Kindergarten teachers. We created uniform lesson plans. The kids saw all of our faces and we dispersed the work.”
“In the need we really learned a lot about making connections with parents. We need to keep these great communications.”
“It’s not the same. The kids can’t shout out when I read a story. We did the best we could and the students and parents did the best they could. We have to be understanding and flexible.”
“The kids didn’t quite understand why they had to stay home and do video chats. It was hard for them to not be able to socialize. I do think they missed out on a lot,” said Garman.
Garman said parents should read with their kids every day to prepare them for the next school year. “Daily literacy connection is so important. Make sure you set time aside every night for reading.”
Garman said there were a lot of free reading apps made available by the school district that parents should make use of.
“Be patient, school might look different in the fall. Take it as it is,” said Garman.
Garman will be honored by participating in a 30-minute “Teacher Impact Awards”program to air on WITF TV in November. WITF and Rotary District 7390 will celebrate both the 2020 and 2021 “Teacher Impact Awards” winners at a banquet in May 2021.
WITF will accept nominations for next year’s “Teacher Impact Awards” in January 2021 at witf.org.