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Examiner
  • Beth Vernon chosen for National Teacher Hall of Fame

  • When Beth Vernon pulled back the blue cloth draped on a large sign in the center of the Brittany Hill Middle School gymnasium, she was expecting to see something connected to the recently passed bond issue.

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  • When Beth Vernon pulled back the blue cloth draped on a large sign in the center of the Brittany Hill Middle School gymnasium, she was expecting to see something connected to the recently passed bond issue.
    Instead, she saw a picture of herself with the words “National Teacher Hall of Fame” in big letters.
    “I am shocked and amazed,” said the Brittany Hill science teacher. “I am blown away by all the praise that has landed on me.”
    Vernon found out during a surprise assembly Tuesday that she is among the five nominees to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. One of the other nominees is also from the Kansas City area - Darryl Johnson, a language arts teacher at Smithville High School. Only three teachers, including Vernon and Johnson, from Missouri have gained membership into the National teachers Hall of Fame.
    “I was ecstatic when I found out she was a finalist,” said Dallas Truex, principal at Brittany Hill. “It is her creativity that makes her stand out. She understands how the brain works and understands adolescents. She uses that information in her classroom.”
    The National Teachers Hall of Fame was founded in Emporia in 1989 to honor teachers and the teaching profession through a recognition program and museum. Nominees must be certified public or non-public schoolteachers, active or retired, with at least 20 years of experience in teaching pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Since the inaugural induction ceremonies in 1992, 105 educators from 37 states and the District of Columbia have been inducted. This year’s class of inductees represents the 22nd anniversary of National Teacher Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
    Known as “the singing science teacher,” Vernon has been teaching for 28 years, 21 of which have been in the Blue Springs School District. She was a Disney American Teacher Award winner in 2000 and was also selected for the Missouri STARR Teacher program, an extensive master teacher development program. It was this experience that she points to as “life changing.”
    “I learned how people learn, the neuroscience of learning. I found out what it means to learn. That is what I wrote about (in the nomination application),” she said. “I really had a hard time (with the application) because I was putting myself on paper. I needed to explain what my recipe is to help kids grow.”
    In the mid-1990s, Vernon made the decision to bring music into the classroom, creating songs to help students learn about different concepts. In 1999, she produced her first educational music CD, “Beth’s Rock Collection, Songs of Science for Our Times.” Since then, she has released a follow-up CD and performs throughout the Kansas City area.
    “I want to create a joyful space where thinking is valued and visible, where effort is reinforced and where questions drive learning,” she said in her hall of fame application. “The formula for success is in colorful plastic letters on the blackboard at the front of my room – ‘We are Making Memories,’ a daily reminder of the purpose of our work together: that becoming smarter is a process that we are working toward, bit by bit, every single day.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Eighth grader Ali Mermelstein said she was not surprised to learn that Vernon was selected for the National Teacher Hall of Fame.
    “She makes you learn in ways you don’t know you’re learning,” she said. “I think what makes her different is her saying, ‘first experience, then learning.’ We do the labs and the fun stuff first, and then the next day process it all. It is reversed from a normal classroom. She spends the extra time to help us all learn.”
     
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