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April 04, 2009

 

DeRuyter middle school teacher named best in state

Award qualifies social studies teacher for consideration as top teacher in the nation

TeacherJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Social studies teacher Shannon Forrest teaches seventh-grade students Wednesday at DeRuyter Central School.

By SCOTT CONROE
Staff Reporter
sconroe@cortlandstandard.net

DeRUYTER — The news that DeRuyter social studies teacher Shannon Mowers Forrest received a statewide teaching award was not surprising to those who knew her as a DeRuyter student.
Forrest was honored Friday as the state’s outstanding middle school social studies teacher at the New York State Council for the Social Studies annual convention in Saratoga Springs.
She qualified for the competition by being named last year as outstanding middle school social studies teacher in Central New York. She now qualifies to be considered for the award as top teacher in the nation, to be named in November.
“As a student here, Shannon was somebody who really threw her heart and soul into anything she did,” said Doug Pelton, a DeRuyter high school social studies teacher who nominated Forrest for the Central New York award. “She was a little shy but willing to step up and try things. I had no doubt she was going to be an outstanding teacher.”
Forrest has taught at DeRuyter for four years, after teaching in Groton schools for six years.
She said she enjoyed teaching in Groton but the drive was an hour each way from her home in South Otselic. The driving grew to be more of a burden once she and her husband, Steve Forrest, had two children.
“My middle school teacher, Tom Gray, retired and I got his job,” she said.
Forrest graduated from DeRuyter in 1995 and from SUNY Cortland with a bachelor’s degree in secondary social studies in 1999. She received a master’s degree in literacy from SUNY Cortland in 2003.
“My goal was always to come back here to teach,” she said.
Forrest grew up in Lincklaen, in Chenango County, as the youngest of five children. Her parents are Lynn and Kathleen Mowers.
“I helped Shannon get the Groton job because I thought she would be a good role model,” Pelton said. “She can always figure out how to reach individual students. Kids come to school with all kinds of baggage now, and she makes them comfortable and safe first, then they can learn. She can be tough, she holds them to standards, but she makes it all right for them to try. If they fail at something, she is there to pick them up.”
Forrest said she always loved American history best.
“I guess I just try to make school fun,” she said. “I love middle schoolers. I love making the subject matter to them.”
Besides Pelton’s nominating her, Forrest had to submit lesson plans to the state council, along with letters of support from students. She said one key letter was written by current sophomore Alan Cizenski.
“I am surprised by this award,” she said. “It’s good to show that good things can happen in a small town.”

 

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