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Lindsey Pettibone of Fox Hollow Elementary

Lindsey was nominated by parent Katie Erb, who wrote this wonderful letter:

“The stage is in place. Glittering tassels line the custom-built platform, and twinkle beneath the bright lights that wait, ready to illuminate the stars as they arrive.

Then, right on cue, they enter. Not actors in a play, but ten and eleven-year-old children who have been cast in the coveted role of students in Ms. Pettibone’s 4th grade class.

My daughter, Leah, is one of those students. The stage is just one of countless ideas dreamed up by Ms. Pettibone to allow students like Leah, who struggles with a neurological disorder, a chance to shine. She uses it as part of her daily, tireless effort in the classroom to ensure that each of her students feels capable, appreciated, and important.

As the mother of four children who have attended five schools in three states, I have observed over 30 classrooms, and have never seen anything like the phenomenal environment created by Ms. Pettibone.

Every day as her students arrive, they are invited to embark on a new adventure. Recently, for instance, they walked into the room to find it transformed into the Winter Olympics, complete with giant rings, international flags, and pictures on the wall of each student as a gold-medal athlete. Every subject was tackled as an event, and thunderous applause could be heard as they crossed the finish lines.

On another day the room was a high-speed racetrack, with giant tires, toy cars, academic competition and trophies for every driver. The students have also learned learn while baking pies, completing scavenger hunts, and fishing for math problems from an inflatable swimming pool.

Some mornings, they arrive to find Ms. Pettibone “missing,” and in her place “Queen P,” a rapper who sings about multiplication, or “PV”, a bear who teaches place value.

Ms. Pettibone has said that self-esteem has sometimes been a struggle for her, and she has therefore made it her mission to ensure that each child feels important. She writes her students heartfelt personal letters enumerating their strengths, attends their extracurricular performances on the weekends, and makes sure they have a friend to play with at recess. At Parent Teacher Conferences, she goes beyond test scores and quantitative measurements, and talks to parents about their child’s kindness and confidence, the joy they bring to her life, and their unique talents and potential.

Once, Ms. Pettibone mentioned to her class that she needed a good night’s rest to be ready for her job, and a baffled student replied, “You have a job!?” It was the perfect indication of the way she is perceived. Not as someone who simply shows up for work every day, but as a beloved part of her student’s life – Teacher, mentor, advocate, cheerleader, and friend.”