Recently, the six schools in Milford School District announced their nominees for Teacher of the Year. The six nominees will compete for the title of District Teacher of the Year which will be announced on May 6, 2016. Mispillion Elementary’s nominee, Julie Hickman, and Lulu M. Ross’ nominee, Jamie Behun, are extremely proud to have been chosen as the nominee for their respective schools.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have had an infatuation with the teaching profession,” said Ms. Hickman, who teaches fifth grade at the school. “I would play school all of the time and knew that I would be a teacher one day. There is one teacher, though, that helped further instill my love of teaching and it was my looping fourth/fifth grade teacher. Her name was Mrs. Morgante and I wasn’t the most confident learner before I had her. She was engaging, funny and made even the most challenging problems seem doable. Mrs. Morgante took an interest in me and believed in me. I hope to have the same lasting impression on my students that she had on me.”
Ms. Hickman has taught in Milford School District for five years and has spent her entire career at Mispillion. She said she loves being a Terrapin and is honored to represent the school as the Teacher of the Year. She said that her greatest achievements as a teacher are helping students who are struggling or who dislike school and inspiring them to be more confident, helping them enjoy the learning experience. Ms. Hickman is constantly trying to think of innovative ways to motivate students by incorporating technology, creating engaging lessons, differentiating and using centers. She says she does “everything in her power to help them love learning.” However, one of the biggest challenges she faces in the classroom is the different level of learners she teaches.
“This is something that is time consuming, but the effort I put into the planning process becomes worthwhile when the lessons are implemented,” Ms. Hickman said. “I feel confident that my lower-leveled learners are getting the support that they need and my higher-leveled learners are being challenged.” Ms. Hickman advises anyone who wishes to become a teacher that they must be selfless, encouraging, patient, intelligent and hard-working. She says teaching is not the type of career that ends with the bell at the end of the day. Ms. Hickman says that there is a significant amount of work and emotional commitment involved with educating youth because classrooms are not just filled with youth, they are filled with future leaders.
Originally from New York, Ms. Hickman’s father is a retired NYPD officer who moved the family to Delaware a few years after 9/11. She attended Cape Henlopen High School and graduated from the University of Delaware. Her husband owns Hickman’s Meat Market in Rehoboth and they have a one-year-old daughter, Alivia, who she says is the “love of my life.”
“Julie is a phenomenal teacher who works hard to meet the individual needs of all her students,” Teresa Wallace, Principal of Mispillion Elementary said. “As Julie’s supervisor for only eight months, being my first year at Mispillion, I noticed right away Julie’s positive attitude and her drive for perfection.”
Jamie Behun, who was chosen as the Lulu M. Ross Elementary Teacher of the Year, has been teaching for five years, all in Delaware, although she was raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. This is her first year teaching in Milford, where she teaches second grade.
“I am so very flattered and surprised to have been honored with this title,” Ms. Behun said. “I’ve always known that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was little, I would line up my stuffed animals and “teach” them with my childhood best friend. I always enjoyed working with little kids, and when I got my first does of teaching as a leader in the Junior Achievement program in high school, I was hooked! We had a partnership with a neighborhood elementary school, where we spent a few hours a week teaching economics to a third grade classroom and I loved it. I looked forward to each day we visited, and even continued to go back after the partnership was over.”
Ms. Behun enjoys seeing the students’ love for learning, saying that it fills her heart with joy to hear that students don’t want to go home at the end of the day or to see the overwhelming pride on their faces as they master a skill they never thought they could. She says that these achievements make her work to be a better teacher. Her biggest challenge is finding enough time to do everything she wants to do. Ms. Behun says that she has so many ideas for supplemental games, activities and experiments, but there are only so many hours in the school day.
“Always challenge yourself,” Ms. Behun said as advice for anyone who was considering entering the teaching profession. “Remember that everything you do is for the kids and they deserve our very best. Finding fun and engaging activities is the key to having kids enjoy learning. The more they enjoy it, the more they want to learn.”
Ms. Behun attended Penn State University and moved to Delaware right after graduation, saying that she always enjoyed the beach and knew it was where she wanted to be. Her mother and her sister have also relocated to Delaware. She is not married, but hopes to have a husband and children someday. Until then she enjoys time with her boyfriend and her class full of second graders.
The Teacher of the Year Award was established by the Delaware Department of Education in 1965. Schools nominate building educators who then compete for the title of District Teacher of the Year. The winner of that award competes at the state level and, if chosen as the Delaware Techer of the Year, then competes nationally for a national award. Since its inception in 1965, three Milford teachers have been named Delaware Teacher of the Year – Mary Decker in 1973, Penny Shockley in 1988 and Mercedes Ferrari in 1992.
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