Amanda McCartney, a special education teacher at Walled Lake Central High School, was “shocked” when representatives of Oakland Schools, together with Walled Lake Consolidated School District administrators entered her classroom yesterday, Tuesday, March 29, with balloons and a sign proclaiming her the 2011 Oakland County Outstanding High School Teacher of the Year.
“I’m still very, very surprised,” said McCartney, who began her teaching career at Central in 2004. “I didn’t even imagine. I work with a very small group of students. So even though I may impact them, in a building so big, I didn’t think … Sometimes we feel like we’re pushed to the side because of the fact there are only 8 and not 200 kids in my class.”
She added, “(This award means) everything. It means that what we do is working for the students, and that we’re getting acknowledged for the hard work that we put in.”
McCartney was chosen from among 19 high school teacher nominees for the honor. All candidates were evaluated in six categories including the ability to engage and meet the individual needs of students, demonstrated knowledge of the subject area and classroom management, the relationship to parents and colleagues, and demonstrated citizenship and leadership in schools.
“It’s amazing,” McCartney said. “I work with an amazing team of paraprofessionals, parents, social workers, speech pathologists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and it’s a great team. It’s not just me. I do it with a very large team of people around me who support myself and the students very, very well.”
McCartney will receive a check for $2,000 and be honored with her fellow nominees on May 5 at Oakland Schools.
“Amanda shares her love and passion for education with her students, parents and the community,” said Kenneth Gutman, Walled Lake Schools superintendent, who helped present the award. “She understands the communication challenges, sensory needs, behavioral concerns, and socialization challenges her students face and she meets the needs of each child, every day.”