Teacher Appreciation Week: Great Teachers Matter

Posted : 2 May 2016

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Dear Colleagues,

I am hopeful each of us can identify at least one teacher to whom we will always be grateful.  Mine is Mrs. Linda Puryea, my second grade teacher.  Mrs. Puryea was a warm, nurturing, engaging teacher who made every single student feel special.  She made her classroom a home for each of us.  From her Ramona Quimby read-alouds using her trademark Ramona voice, to the entertaining sing-alongs with the autoharp, Mrs. Puryea made learning worthwhile every day.  She loved all of her students as if they were her own and believed each one of us had a future.  Mrs. Puryea kept an archive of her classes over the years with volumes entitled her Book of Smiles.  When she retired several years ago, she asked me if I would accept the honor of receiving the Book of Smiles from my class when I was with her in second grade.  Of course I obliged and keep it proudly on the bookshelf in my office.

It is important to show appreciation to all of the great teachers and school leaders who have impacted our lives in various, positive ways.  In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we will feature several teachers in our partnership districts throughout North Carolina each day this week. Please see below for the first profile. We invite you to express your appreciation for those great teachers and school leaders who have made a difference in your life by tweeting #GreatTeachersNC.

Thank you to all of the great educators who make such a difference every day for the students of North Carolina.

All the Best,

Bryan Zugelder


David Lasky, Exceptional Children’s Teacher, Chaloner Middle School, Roanoke Rapids Graded School District

David Lasky is a first-year teacher in Roanoke Rapids Graded School District.  He works with exceptional children, focusing on language arts.  We talked with him on a recent evening about his experiences as a new teacher so far this year.

Asked why he wanted to teach, Mr. Lasky replied, “I have always enjoyed trying to help others and have really found myself trying to teach something to someone.”  He stressed that there were really three motivating factors for him to become a teacher:  education is important to him, he really enjoys sharing knowledge, and he has a passion for working with children.

His passion for working with children was evident as he reflected on his greatest successes so far this school year.  “Motivating students to attempt challenges and overcome barriers which in the past they haven’t, and then hearing parents echoing that [as they are] seeing it at home.  For example, children who previously wouldn’t speak out or participate in a discussion who will now, or struggled to focus being engaged now.”  Parents are telling him things like “Wow, I have really seen a change in [my child] this year.  They’re doing things they’ve never done before.”  Given that Mr. Lasky works with exceptional children, he finds his successes in helping students find their voices particularly rewarding.

Like many new teachers, Mr. Lasky identified the overwhelming influx of new responsibilities as one of his greatest challenges.    “It has been challenging at times to keep up with all that I am required to do and still keep my mind open enough take on to what is offered from a variety of sources.  How to prepare instruction, to use the records software, to fulfill the BT requirements, have meetings, attend conferences, increase familiarity with curriculum… it got to a point that it was difficult to take in more input. – just balancing creativity with absorption of so much new information.  But I’m getting my groove and feeling more at ease.”

The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program’s greatest help has been, according to Mr. Lasky, “beyond a shadow of a doubt, my Instructional Coach, with the quality of the assistance he gives me and I know is able to give me.  He’s helped me plan a lesson, put me in touch with the NC TEACH program, and he’s been there for encouragement and support.   I gain from my time with him.  He has been extremely accessible and beneficial to me in general.”

It is the privilege of the NC NTSP to support Mr. Lasky, and all of those teachers who, like him, provide such excellent support to our students.