Staff Spotlight: Honoring Christine Wolfe, maaps award nominee (Part 3)

Several Latham School teachers were recently nominated for the Excellence in Teaching Award given annually by the Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps). The award acknowledges superior teaching contributions to special needs children by a classroom teacher whose performance and achievement reflects the high principles of the profession and the Association. Many of our teachers were nominated for their excellence in teaching and supporting our students. Here is an excerpt from Latham educator Christine Wolfe’s award nomination (written by Latham colleague Patrice Carroll):

I am not a teacher. I cannot begin to understand the intricacies of what goes into writing and implementing an IEP, and I have absolutely no idea what a PLEP is. But I know when I see a student go from avoiding school to embracing school; when I see a student who has had years of being misunderstood who now feels like he is a part of a community… I know what kind of a person can turn a reluctant learner into a motivated one, and that is my definition of an outstanding teacher. Christine (Chris) Wolfe is that teacher, and if the story stopped there it would still be worthy of recognition—but her story does not stop there.

Last year, as Chris was doing what she does best—teaching, guiding, and cheerleading her class to success—she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. Most people would stop, take a leave of absence, think about everything except work. But that is not who Chris is. Chris stayed at work and taught her students just as she had always done. Chris wanted her students to be prepared for the changes that they would inevitably see in her and talked to them about what to expect, eased their anxiety and proudly wore the bandanas that the children made for her when the side effect of hair loss began to show. Chris arranged her chemotherapy appointments at the end of the week so her students would not see the toll that the treatments were taking on her physically and emotionally.

Today, Chris is strong and healthy and in remission. Her hair is growing back and her prognosis is excellent, and because of her devotion and kindness, her students have learned that with perseverance and hope, anything is possible. Chris taught her students that illness does not equate with weakness, and that no matter what happens, it is possible to fight your way to the top and come out better on the other side. Chris has been an inspiration to our entire community and we are all better for knowing her!

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