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Caring and good teaching go hand in hand

When students in Jody Levy’s class at Woodland Elementary School have a dance recital, a baseball game or any other activity after school, they can expect to see their parents in the crowd—and their classroom teacher. Since she came to Woodland nearly 10 years ago, Levy has made it a point to attend at least one extracurricular activity that her first- and second-graders participate in after school. “The kids just every year know that if they give her a schedule she will show up at one of their events,” says Julie Spanier, whose son was in Levy’s second-grade class last year.

At Woodland, teachers loop with their students for two years. So Levy and her co-teacher Scott Lund teach first-graders for one year and continue with them through the second grade. The two teachers most recently attended a girl’s evening softball game to support one of their students. When they attend such events, Levy says that students are energized by their presence. She often catches the kids stealing glances at her and Lund to make sure they’re watching. Having students spot their teachers in the crowd “just lets them know again that we really care about them,” she says.

The caring inherent in good teaching is what first attracted Levy to the profession. She had worked as a teacher’s helper in preschools before attending college and enjoyed the connections she made with children. Before deciding to pursue a teaching career, Levy had thought about becoming a pediatrician and was all set for medical school when she had a long talk about her career choice with her father. “Are you doing this because you want to,” he asked, “or because you think you have to?” she recalls. “I didn’t know that having the title ‘doctor’ was the thing that would make me feel complete,” Levy says. She ultimately realized that teaching, not medicine, would make her happy.

In her 13 years of teaching, Levy has most enjoyed inspiring children to love learning, and building relationships with students and families. Kris Dugas, whose daughter, 13, and son, 11, were in Levy’s first- and second-grade classes, can attest to just how much Levy cares about her students. Dugas had just had a baby when her daughter started first grade and was concerned about how the little girl would handle a new sibling and the transition from kindergarten to first grade. Levy made sure that if the child “needed an extra hug, she got a hug that day,” Dugas says. The teacher also kept an eye on Dugas’ son when his grandfather became ill and passed away when the boy was in second grade. Dugas was especially touched when Levy attended the funeral.