Richard Wise Receives VT-NEA Award for Teaching Excellence

SBHS teacher Rich Wise is recognized with the Award for Teaching Excellence from the VT-NEA.

South Burlington educator Richard Wise has recently been recognized with the Award for Teaching Excellence from the VT-National Education Association(NEA), which commends his community involvement, advocacy for children, education, and the teaching profession. This award is given to one educator in the state each year and Wise is this year’s honored recipient.

Vermont-NEA selects and honors one of its active members each year in order to celebrate teaching excellence, public education, and the dedicated school workforce. The Vermont-NEA Award for Teaching Excellence is awarded annually and carries with it a $1,000 cash prize. The winner represents Vermont in the national competition for the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence, which pays the winner $25,000.Nominations are judged on the following criteria: professional practice, advocacy for the profession, community engagement, leadership in professional development, and attention to diversity.

“I am honored to receive the Teaching Excellence award for many reasons, but probably the most important one is that it is awarded by my colleagues. No one better understands the challenges and rewards of teaching better than those in the profession, and to receive this from others who are equally dedicated and talented is very high praise and a humbling distinction” Wise said.

Richard Wise’s ties to the South Burlington community go beyond the 26 years he has been teaching in the District (he has taught for 34 years total). Wise graduated from SBHS in 1973 and he and his wife (SBHS class of 1976), have 3 daughters, all graduates of SBHS, 2001, 2003, and 2008. Even the impetus for his career began in South Burlington. “My inspiration for going into the teaching profession was my high school teacher and football coach, Paul Jordan” Wise said.

This is not Wise’s first official accolade; he was recognized in 1998-99 as the South Burlington Teacher of the Year. Twice named Metro South Softball Coach of the Year, he was recognized by the South Burlington High School Athletic Council for outstanding service to the community, and was honored by the Future Educators of America in 2002 for contributions to SBHS students.

SBHS Principal Patrick Burke provided a glowing recommendation for Wise to receive this award. In part, he said, “I have worked with Rich Wise at South Burlington High School for thirteen years in my role as Principal and Assistant Principal. I can speak for Rich’s South Burlington colleagues, teachers and students when I say we have all been impressed by his kindness, leadership, and commitment to our school. Rich’s yearning for depth of understanding and ability to demonstrate excellence in every aspect of the complex and demanding job of high school science teacher and Association President finds him worthy of this honor. His performance in our district is nothing short of excellent. Ours is a district filled with bright, highly motivated professionals; Rich is a stalwart role model, committed to advocacy for his profession and for the students he serves.”

Indeed, Wise’s involvement with the District extends far outside the classroom. He has coached football and softball at SBHS and has been an advisor to the Key Club for 26 years. The Key Club’s mission is all about community service. They have recently donated $500 to Chittenden County Food Shelf, $1000 for COTS Diaper Drive, started a winter clothing drive for Spectrum Youth and Family Services, raised $600 toward the Safe Passage Organization in Guatemala, and raised about $5000 for the Donna Spooner Memorial Garden located in front of SBHS.

Kathy Buley, who teaches third grade at Chamberlin, and is Co-President of the South Burlington Educators’ Association(SBEA) with Wise said “Probably the most important reason Rich is respected as a teacher-leader is that he is so well respected as a teacher. At the end of the day, it’s all about how teachers treat students, and that is what has earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues. Rich is an advocate for students, education, and the teaching profession, in that order, and as a community, we are lucky to have him.”

This sentiment is echoed by his students. During his time at SBHS Wise has become well regarded; particularly for his noticeable passion for his profession and attention to each student as an individual. Seniors Emily Camardo and Lindsay Geier had Mr. Wise for biology when they were in tenth grade. Geier said, “He was nonetheless quirky, hilarious, goofy, approachable, accepting, and one who understood his students particularly well. With each class he taught, he adjusted to what the students needed and he did it exceptionally well. Every task he had students do, he had reasoning behind it. He’s the type of teacher that all teachers should aspire to be. Mr. Wise connects with his students and understands them. Mr. Wise doesn’t see teaching as just a job. He’s adapted it and has made it a lifestyle. He’s compassionate and caring, and will do anything for his students.”

Emily Camardo also has worked with Mr. Wise outside the classroom in his role as advisor to the Key Club of which she is Vice President. “I have known Mr. Wise for three years,” Camardo said, “Mr. Wise is a special teacher because he dedicates his time to get to personally know each of his students. Mr. Wise sees the best in everyone and knows how to make you smile. He treats everyone with respect and is always there for support. With his help the Key Club has given thousands and thousands of dollars to different organizations in the school and in the community. He has inspired me to be involved in the community and to always do my best. It has been an honor working with him for the past few years. Mr. Wise has helped me grow into the person I am today and I can’t thank him enough for that.”

Wise will attend a ceremony in Washington D.C. this coming fall where he will be honored. In addition to the award, he will have the opportunity to study abroad to observe education practice and acquire skills to integrate global competence into his daily classroom instruction at SBHS.

Wise adds that, “None of this would have happened without the support of my mother and father. They simply would not allow me to fail - I credit them for teaching me a very important lesson - which is to never give up on my students.”

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent


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