Michelle Depot, center, a third-grade teacher at Curtis Elementary School, is joined by (L to R) Schools Supt. Deborah Cylke, Christina DiPrete, secondary vice president of the Pawtucket Teachers Alliance, and Curtis School Principal Jean Friend. Photo/Donna Kenny Kirwan
PAWTUCKET â€” Not only is Michelle Depot a hardworking educator, she is also a good communicator and a â€śjoiner.â€ť That winning combination earned the Flora S. Curtis Elementary School third grade teacher the title of â€śPawtucket Teacher of the Year.â€ť
Depot was recognized at a ceremony at the school on Tuesday by Schools Supt. Deborah Cylke and Curtis School Principal Jean Friend, who nominated the Pawtucket resident. Depot's two sons, Douglas and Dylan, and her parents, George and Carol Nunes, were also on hand to congratulate her.
With this award, Depot will be a contender for Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, a prelude to the National Teacher of the Year award. There is an established protocol involved, and Cylke said this is the first time in about a decade that the Pawtucket School District has put forth a candidate to the state level.
Depot has been teaching for 15 years, the last seven of which have been spent at Curtis Elementary. Prior to that, she taught at Winters Elementary School. She earned a bachelor's degree in special education and elementary education from Rhode Island College, and a master's degree in special education from Simmons College in Boston.
While Depot is assigned to a regular third grade classroom, Cylke noted that her special education background influences the individualized teaching style she has been praised for by those who nominated her. â€śShe pushes the students to exceed the standards, but she differentiates and adjusts according to their various abilities to learn,â€ť the superintendent said. â€śShe is also very patient with the children.â€ť
In her nomination letter, Principal Jean Friend wrote that Depot â€śsees the connection between school and community.â€ť She said Depot â€śworks hard to communicate with students' parents: by note, e-mail and phone callsâ€ť and said â€śthe message may be concerning progress, achievement, or simply to just touch base to head off a problem or to compliment the child and say something positive about their day.â€ť
Friend also wrote, â€śJoin almost any committee and event at Curtis and you will find Michelle has had a hand in it.â€ť This includes being co-chairman of the Curtis School Improvement Team and serving on the English Language Arts Consortium in partnership with East Providence and Pawtucket's English Language Arts Committee as well as secretary of the Curtis PTO. She also helped with many of the school's main events such as International Fair, Open House and Battle of the Books, and this year initiated a Reading Week, Friend noted.
Patricia DiCenso, performance officer for secondary education and Kathleen Siriani, performance officer for the elementary level, said the administration wants to continue recognizing a teacher of the year from the school district annually. The teacher must agree to the application process and is then chosen by a selection committee made up of teachers, school coordinators and administrators.
Depot, who said she was thrilled with the honor, was further given testimonial by some positive remarks from her young students. As Friend noted in her letter, â€śChildren can hardly wait to get to third grade and Mrs. Depot's class. Once there, they do not want to leave.â€ť