Marquette University College of Education recognized the professional excellence of two area teachers at an awards tea sponsored by the Wisconsin Association of Colleges of Teacher Education at the Concourse Hotel in Madison, WI on Sunday, April 12, 2015.
Mr. Vincent Gaa, Ed ’13, teacher at Casmir Pulaski High School in Milwaukee, was recognized with an Early Career Award for his commitment to working with urban youth. Christine Lemon, Ed ’03, teacher at Casmir Pulaski High School in Milwaukee, was recognized with a Mentor Award for her exemplary work with pre-service teachers.
In less than two years, in addition to teaching over 150 students per day, Gaa has designed and developed a popular Science Fiction elective rooted in social justice themes and aligned with Common Core State Standards; founded and supervised a Science Fiction Club at Pulaski; helped organize, mobilize and empower students to attend school board meetings and speak out on issues of concern (e.g. possible closing of Pulaski High School); led an effort and applied for an MPS implementation grant to establish a new aquaponics laboratory in an unused greenhouse at Pulaski that would promote sustainability, urban gardening, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning across the science, business, special education, and English departments at the school; and been an active member of Pulaski’s chapter of YES (Youth Empowered in the Struggle).
As English department chair, Lemon serves as a lead and mentor teacher to all new English faculty, modelling differentiation for diverse learners, co-teaching with special education staff, how to use Common Core State Standards in planning, and best practices in language arts and urban education. She is a Restorative Justice facilitator, a Night School credit recovery teacher, and has developed and implemented numerous service learning and community service projects with students. More recently at Marquette she adapted a specialized methods course for Teach for America intern English teachers and has developed and taught courses for the Upward Bound program.
This is the second year that the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (WACTE) has sponsored the Early Career and Mentor Teaching Awards. This year, 42 teachers across the state were honored for their professional excellence.
WACTE is a professional organization composed of the Wisconsin institutions that prepare individuals for teacher licensure. Our teacher preparation programs offer diversity in size, focus and delivery, but all are designed to prepare quality teachers for Wisconsin’s schools. WACTE is an affiliate of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).