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Waugh teacher receives Teacher of the Year award

Submitted photo From left: J.T. Waugh principal Paula Eastman, 4th grade teacher Nicole Wegrzynowski, and Assemblyman David DiPietro.

January 30th was proclaimed Nikki Wegrzynowski Day in the State of New York when Assemblyman David DiPietro presented the 4th grade teacher an award for “Teacher of the Year” in his 147th Assembly District. During a surprise assembly at J.T. Waugh Elementary School, Mr. DiPietro, a former teacher himself, noted that he represents some 2,000 teachers in his district. And, he said, he periodically reaches out to honor someone, “who really sticks out and does something special.”

In Mrs. Wegrzynowski’s case, that “something special” emerged in a recommendation from Principal Paula Eastman which cited Mrs. Wegrzynowski’s “outstanding ability to push past the curriculum and provide a unique experience for her students.” Specifically, Mrs. Wegrzynowski was instrumental in instituting the “Kind Kids Compliments” initiative at the school, with a grant from the EdCorps/Real World Scholars organization.

The Kind Kids Compliments store is run by J.T. Waugh 4th graders, who design, create and sell kind compliments on keychains, necklaces, and magnets. In addition to learning business, production and marketing skills, the youngsters advance compliments that keep on giving. Their shop donated its $500 proceeds last year to Community Concern in Derby.

The assembled 4th graders and teachers burst into applause when the award was announced. One person later posted on Facebook, “Absolutely BEAUTIFUL MOMENT!! I was SO LUCKY to have been eavesdropping at the auditorium door as Nikki was honored! She is beyond humble – she kept wiping away tears – and my eyes were leaking too!!”

In accepting the award, Mrs. Wegrynowski said to the students, “I love you and I love coming here every day and I love being your teacher.”

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