2022 Teaching & Learning Awards

Did you know that much like the big awards shows like the Emmys and Oscars, Poly has its own ceremony to acknowledge and honor the hard work of our dedicated teachers and staff? In fact, announcing the Teaching & Learning Awards to faculty and staff is one of Head of School Audrius Barzdukas’ P’20 favorite responsibilities.

At our faculty and staff welcome back meeting in August, Barzdukas enthusiastically described each recipient of a monetary award that can be used in any area of learning the recipient chooses. In each division—Lower, Middle, or Upper School faculty—or in the area of staff, two honorees were announced: someone early in their career in education and a veteran.

We are delighted to congratulate the following honorees:

Lower School
Aiyana Parker

Aiyana Parker (Grade 4 Head Teacher) 

“From the start of the day to the end of the day, this teacher makes sure her students feel and experience love, challenge, engagement, and fun. She pushes her students to consider multiple perspectives, solve their problems with confident independence, and share their learning with others. Last year, her students created a Great African History Museum and served as docents for their schoolmates as each class came to visit. Congratulations, Aiyana Parker.”

Patti Smith

Patti Smith (Visual Arts)

Each year, this teacher makes the Lower School more beautiful with her creativity and inspiration. A bit of Harry Potter magic and unflagging creativity. She leads our students in ‘obliterating’ our halls in the style of Yayoi Kusama. She helps children capture their individuality through portraiture. And she gives students access to the many languages of art and expression. This past year she took her already fabulous art program and reimagined what it could look like by embracing student choice and the Curious Classroom. As inspiring, she helps us ALL find a little bit of Harry Potter. Congratulations, Patti Smith.”

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Middle School
Jeremi Lewis

Jeremi Lewis (Math) 

“This Middle School teacher seems to be everywhere, all the time–he connects with kids. When you find a student wandering the hallways and ask them where they are going, they often say they are going to see this teacher for math help. This teacher meets with so many students that it seems like he meets with EVERY Middle School student. His love of math and learning is infectious, and students know that he is willing to do whatever it takes to find the key to opening the lock of understanding. Congrats, Jeremi Lewis.”

Ashley Hacker

Ashley Hacker (Middle School Dance; Dance, Debate, and Drama Coordinator) 

“Who gets kids to shake, shimmy, sashay, and express themselves through movement? This teacher gets things done! This teacher never lets any obstacle get in the way of doing what is best for her students, and her students and colleagues know it. The sheer joy her students exhibit while they are in her classes is so inspiring, and as a colleague it gets no better than Ashley Hacker.”

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Upper School
Amy Hao

Amy Hao (Science) 

“If you want to see students having fun in and with science, visit this teacher’s class. The care and dedication she gives to each one of her students and her passion for biology serve as a model for all of us. She is a natural! A dedicated and progressive educator. Congratulations Amy Hao for being a talented scientist and outstanding educator.”

Carmelo Larose

Carmelo Larose (English) 

“When you think about who is the epitome of a ‘kid magnet!’ this teacher immediately comes to mind. His own love of learning and dedication to his professional and personal pursuits set the example for our students that you can learn, grow, and take risks at any age. He is compelling, warm, approachable, and talented at engaging our students’ intellects. He pushes them to become better writers, readers, and thinkers and they demonstrate their appreciation for him year in and out. Congrats, Carmelo Larose!”

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Jared Winston

Jared Winston (Director of Student Life) 

“Who is the most positive person? Who is unfailingly happy? Who wears slogans on his chest every day?  The energy and enthusiasm he brings to school every day are contagious, and he has transformed school spirit at a time when we all needed it the most. His creativity knows no bounds. From the Spirit Cup to pep rallies to fun and engaging assembly presentations, he is All Poly, all the time. A founding member of OFE, congratulations Jared Winston.”

Dalia Gold

Dalia Gold (Clinical Director of School Counseling) 

“This counselor consistently advocates for the holistic well-being of students, families, faculty, and staff. She is always ready with a listening ear, a thoughtful connection, or helpful resource to ensure that our community has what it needs to thrive. She led daily mindfulness classes for our students and organized student and faculty wellness check-ins during the pandemic. With our school nurse, she wrote and taught a new health and sex education curriculum for our thrid and fourth graders. With a steady hand and quiet warmth, she shepherded our community through our grief when we tragically lost a student last year. We all have healthier hearts, minds, and bodies because of Dalia Gold’s hard work and professionalism.”