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September 16, 2013

Pamela Tenny named Hilton’s 2012-13 Teacher of the Year

The Hilton Central Schools Teachers Association [HCSTA] 2012-13 selection of the Hilton Teacher of the Year was presented at the annual staff convocation at Hilton High School in September. This year's honoree is Merton Williams Middle School social studies teacher Pamela Spross-Tenny, who was honored for her ability to encourage students to “leave their comfort zone and celebrate their successes.”

Tenny, a Hilton graduate, has taught seventh and eighth grade social studies in the Hilton School District for 21 years. Her father, Weldon Spross, who passed away when she was very young, was also a teacher. “I like to think that I’m fulfilling his legacy by following in his footsteps,” she said.

Tenny says that as much as education has changed over the years, it has stayed the same. “It still comes down to respecting the students, guiding them, building a trusting relationship with them, helping  them realize their dreams, loving them as people, and instilling in them core values.”

One person wrote on her nomination form that Tenny changed her son’s outlook on learning in just a couple of days. “She spoke to him in a mature, professional manner and treated him as though he was a bright, articulate young man,” she wrote. “He mentioned how she was able to use respect and humor to get some of the less enthusiastic kids to do their work and participate in the discussion.”

Tenny said that the greatest joy in her teaching career is getting to meet 120 new people every year that teach her something new each day. “It’s not about what’s on page 30 that is going to make an impact on their lives, but their successes, and knowing that they can believe in themselves and exceed their expectations,” she said.

Outside of the classroom, Tenny rolls up her sleeves to organize a Veterans’ Day ceremony for the school district every year. She gets students involved in making cards and flags, and invites veterans, parents and community members to participate. “ In the end, students walk away with a sense that they are all part of a greater community and realize the sacrifice the veterans have made,” explained Tenny.

Over the past 10 years, Tenny has also rallied  students, staff and families to help out the Society for the Protection and Care of Children by participating in the Teddy Bear Project. Toys and clothing are purchased, and wish lists completed for between 75 and 100 children every year around holiday time. “Any time the community needs something, we try to find a way to help,” said Tenny.

Nominees are screened by the HCSTA Teacher of the Year committee chaired by Merton Williams Middle School teacher Marie Ward. Letters of recommendation are collected from colleagues, parents and students. The finalists for the award this year were:  Christine Clark, Northwood; Krisann Craney, Village; Steve Cudzilo, Merton Williams; Marc D’Amico, High School; Nicole DiBattisto, Quest; Carla Heise, Village; LaDonna Howell, Quest; Brenda Moshiotta, Northwood; and Sandy Rohr, High School; Nominees must have more than five years of exceptional service to the District, active involvement in the Hilton community, and have made a substantial impact on the lives of their students and colleagues.