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Oak Ridge Teacher of the Year 2015-2016: Meet Cathy Lemay!

Cathy Leway and Trish Hill at Oak Ridge

At the August 31, 2016 Opening Day Convocation, Oak Ridge Principal honored the 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year Cathy Lemay with the following remarks… 

Welcome back everyone!

2015-2016 was certainly a year of great change and transition at the elementary level and I want to acknowledge the kindness, patience and support I had from our amazing team at Oak Ridge.  I want to say what an honor and a privilege it was to have been given the opportunity to lead this team.   And as much as I am looking forward to what is to come, I want to honor and respect all of the work you did to  make the new Oak Ridge School such a special and unique place.

I am so grateful to be an educator.  I feel that education…the opportunity to work with students, to inspire, to be in service to others and to impact how they see themselves as learners and as people isn’t just a job, it’s not even a career path, but a calling.

Today I have been asked to highlight the contributions and efforts of one of our educators.

This year, I’d like to honor the contributions of an individual whose efforts made that calling visible.  I’d like you to know about Cathy Lemay.

For over 25 years, the children of the Sandwich Public School have been the lucky recipient of this amazing educator.  Over the years, she has been a special educator, a classroom teacher and a Specialist working in all three of the town’s elementary schools and leaving her mark along the way.

This is one of those speeches that I’ve written….deleted, started again and deleted, probably because there’s really no way to describe Cathy Lemay….she is a force of nature, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

On one hand she is wildly creative, posing every problem and its corresponding solution in theater terms…..Curtains up.and scene.

On the other she is meticoulously detailed and thoughtful, making carefully planned teaching decisions based on individual needs….  She is the person who can’t control an idea in her head from coming out or from barging in your office…while also being incredibly astute about the dynamics of a situation and its solution….  She is the real deal, the whole package and the best of all possible worlds. She will dance, sing and even tap her way into your heart.  She never met a song she didn’t like or a challenge she isn’t willing to take on.

Although she has a 25 year history of being a Sandwich stand out, it’s her work at Oak Ridge that I know best and that I’d like to share.

Last year, in pure Cathy Lemay style, she took up the challenge to teach part time Special Ed and the and part time Exploring the 7C’s – the course that embodies the values of Oak Ridge.

In doing this she took on two unique challenges.  One where she used the analytical part of her brain and one that unleashed her creativity.  Yet in both she taught using her whole heart.

It’s been said of Cathy:

She is truly here for the kids. Every question always comes back to what is best for the child. She always uncovers her student’s talents and embraces their uniqueness.  Most importantly she cares about their hearts.”

 “Mrs. Lemay is one of the most amazing Special Education teachers one can ever work with. She treats each child as if they are her own. She sees the “whole” person….she lives and breathes ALL of their needs… not just the ones identified on the IEP. She is inspiring, and such a fantastic mentor and role model.”

In addition, she was a Team Leader, leading our school’s Responsive Classroom commitment.  She used her unique perspectives to help shape our Collaborative Design Team. She was a mentor to a new teacher and guided experienced ones.  Modeling lessons, sharing resources, and helping large groups of students and teachers to move toward the creation of a more welcoming, inclusive and collaborative community. She truly made the new Oak Ridge School a better place.

In Oak Ridge we are focused on the 7’Cs:  Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, Community and Character.  Cathy, you embody all of these through your efforts and passion for the students, families, teachers and staff of the Oak Ridge Community.    Today we honor not only the achievements of last year, but of the more than 25 years of service to the children of Sandwich and we celebrate the lives you have changed for the better.

Please join me in honoring our Employee of the Year, Cathy Lemay.