Peggy McNeill Owens, a First Grade Teacher at Snacks Crossing Elementary, received the honor of being our Teacher of the Year winner. With this award she received a $2500 cash prize to be used as a personal reward (courtesy of the Slaughter family) and a $4000 scholarship from the American College of Education. Congratulations!
According to this year’s Teacher of the Year, her 34 year career as an educator began when, as a child, she taught her dolls and cats in an imaginary classroom.
With past teachers as role models, Owens has dedicated herself to the profession and to her students, becoming an exceptionally caring, skillful, articulate, creative, respected and selfless educator in Pike Township and the Snacks Crossing Elementary School community.
A one-of-a-kind educator, she inspires all of her students to learn at their full potential and has transformed the lives of hundreds of students with her willingness to do anything, without hesitation, to help them.
Her above-and-beyond actions have included taking personal time to go to the home of and tutor a terminally ill student, even securing a translator to translate medical records and reports for the student’s Spanish-speaking mother, whom she befriended and took to dinner and Christmas shopping.
For another student facing the challenges of ADHD and emotional issues, she created a reward system called “drops of joy,” in which she added colored drops in a glass when she saw him doing the right thing in the classroom. By middle school he was an honor roll student and started helping other students with reading.
Students who enter her classroom find an educator for life. When a former student fell ill, she visited his house each day to help him keep up even though he had moved on to the fourth grade. Another student who was having trouble in his eighth grade math class told his mother “Mrs. Owners would be able to help.” With one phone call she drove to the student’s house to help him.
Her generosity has transformed the lives of her students. Not only does she give her time, but she makes sure her students are warm and clothed, providing coats, shoes, boots, and handmade scarves when needed. Each student receives a book on their birthday. A community of former students and their kids, often exceeding 200 in number, attend her annual Halloween cookout.
Parents and her colleagues readily testify of Owen’s creativity in her classroom and how she uses what she finds at Teachers’ Treasures in unique ways that go beyond meeting her students’ basic supply needs.
She’s added library envelopes to an old Twister game to transform it into a way to teach compound words. Repurposed balls teach sight words and the pockets from cast-off blue jeans and craft sticks becomes a picture matching game. Owen’s creativity has even transformed her love of flat-track roller derby into a science lesson about simple machines and basic physics.
Owen not only teaches creatively and compassionately, but she also teaches by example, providing service learning opportunities for her classroom. Elderly residents at Robin Run receive handmade gifts from her students. An “adopted” soldier receives letters and care packages for her kids. Students pool their pennies to buy honeybees for a Honduran family through Heifer International. Giving back becomes just as big a part of their education as reading and math.
Owen’s exceptional dedication to her students past and present is evident by all. Her years touching the lives of students and their families, her colleagues, and the community have made her an exceptional candidate for this award. We are thrilled to recognize her as our 2016 Teacher of the Year! Congratulations!