Newark Middle School instructional coach Lisa Eakins said she was “honored, excited and overwhelmed” after learning the 2019 yearbook was dedicated to her.
During the assembly, Spanish teacher and yearbook adviser Marcela Mason read the dedication written by seventh grade science teacher Craig Sutherland.
Sutherland’s dedication reads, “According to the most current educational experts, best practices in teaching include a variety of new cutting edge ideas. New age classrooms now include student choice, learning stations, multimedia and technology, and so much more. These so-called experts are perfectly describing the look and feel of Mrs. Eakins’ classrooms over the last two and a half decades. Clearly well ahead of her time, the hallmark of a Mrs. Eakins lesson is a tangible energy and buzz that come from student-centered activities that immerse them in a story of our nation.
“History comes alive in her room in a way that keeps students coming back for more, always excited to learn the next chapter and to discover how social studies connects to each of their lives.
“Challenging the idea that the teacher is the focal point of the classroom, it is far more likely that you will find kids leading the conversation rather than her, offering significant feelings of empowerment and autonomy. As a result of this compelling atmosphere, it comes as no surprise that kids of all grade levels, some not even her own, flock to her room in droves just to hang out or grab a snack. Mrs. Eakins’ room is simply understood to be a safe and enjoyable place to be.
“The influence Mrs. Eakins has had on our school does not end at her classroom door. Over the span of her career, she quickly became a building leader. Trusted by adults at every level, she is often sought out for her creative solutions and level-headed judgment. So valued for her talents and command of educational theory, our district wisely elected her as a curriculum coach for our building offering her vision and expertise to the rest of the teaching staff. Ironically, she now passes on the ‘new and improved’ methods of teaching to staff that are anything but new to her. It is what she has been doing in her classroom for the past 25 years.
“Despite the recent change in her role in our school, one thing will never change: Mrs. Eakins still gathers kids. In spite of not having a classroom of her own, they still show up by the dozens — for a snack, or to talk, or maybe just to be around the one that makes them feel safe and valued and loved. The one they call Mrs. Eakins.”
Eakins, who has been an instructional coach for two years, started teaching social studies 26 years ago at NMS. Before the yearbook dedication, Mason said seventh grader Mason Jorgensen created the title page for the yearbook.
Principal Teresa Prinzi then presented three awards in memory of former students. Emily Genovese received the Ashley Henkel Award, Molly Goulette received the Tyler Finn Memorial Award and the Colby George Courage Award went to Molly Verbridge.
Joyce Pittenger presented the Barrie Fleegal Memorial Active Educator Grant to seventh grade science teacher Spencer Byrne on behalf of the Wayne County Retired Teachers Association.