LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Judy Elson

Position: Fifth/Sixth Grade Teacher
School: Ferrisburgh Central School
School District: Addison Northwest School District
City, State: Ferrisburgh, VT

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Judy Elson was nominated by her principal, Beth Brodie.

It's hard to measure the significant impact Mrs. Elson makes on her fifth and sixth grade students at Ferrisburgh Central School, but it's obvious, not only in the way they hug her at the end of sixth grade, but in the way they come back and share their future successes with her for years to come. She works tirelessly for the school's sustainability program each year, planning vegetables to plant with the kitchen staff.

She works with all classroom teachers so they can plant in the spring and use the grow light to watch plants sprout. Then, with the help of her husband, Nick, they prepare the beds with the compost coming from the lunch program throughout the school year, which her classes turn each week in the compost hut. Finally, she organizes a cadre of parents to help out during the summer months so that when her students return in September, there is a bountiful harvest which lasts well into the fall in the school lunch program. It is so rewarding to see students eat fresh, delicious vegetables throughout the fall and develop healthy eating habits.

Mrs. Elson also works tirelessly writing grants so her students can experience science in nature, traveling to quarries, whale watches, recycling centers, lakes and streams. Her students are so engaged in science, and they understand why the scientific method is important for all to know because she connects science to their everyday life experiences. Finally, as an involved community member, she is a critical part of the community engagement committee, and a dedicated coach to the spelling bee team.

"It's hard to explain in one paragraph how integral Mrs. Elson is to the community, but she is the heart and soul of FCS," said Brodie.

Comments (7)

Rebecca Weaver Posted over a year ago

Judy is my aunt and my two boys -11 and 14- have been fortunate to be part of the summer gardening team, weeding the garden and learning about composting from Judy and her family. The boys have taken lessons learned from Judy to their school in Nairobi where they encourage recycling and at our house they have built a dry compost hole so that appropriate food waste is “recycled” and not put into the garbage.

Stacy Valcourt Posted over a year ago

I have had the absolute pleasure of working with Judy for the past 18 years. She is an amazing educator! Her passion for science has made her a true asset in our school. She is an incredibly thoughtful teacher who can intuitively differentiate for the varying needs of her students and provide meaningful learning opportunities to spark the many students she teaches. Her kind heart and warm smiles make her a favorite among students and staff alike. She is a true collaborator, supporting colleagues, and always planning with the students’ best interests in mind. She has worked tirelessly over the years to help our school develop systems for recycling and composting in which students actively participate in the these processes. She plays a key role with our school gardens and outdoor classroom spaces. She works on the 6th grade yearbook. Judy helps with community support through our harvest dinner and other related functions each year. She finds creative ways to utilize community resources and bring our students on field trips connected with science and learning (recycling, geology, water ecology, etc.). She even brings her own sugar shack to the school to boil sap collected by our students to make maple syrup each spring. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this outstanding individual. Our students, school, and community are undoubtedly strengthened due to the efforts of this remarkable life changer!

Diana Raphael Posted over a year ago

As a teacher representative on the Addison Northwest School Board’s Community Engagement Committee, Judy has been integral to our work. She is insightful, sees the big picture, goes the extra mile giving of her time to do childcare at our events, work with student volunteers at the Memorial Day Parade and come out to monthly evening meetings. Her commitment to our greater community within and without our school walls embodies our vision of creating " a kind, collaborative, and creative community for all that nurtures a diverse and accessible learning environment. Students will flourish as critical thinkers and productive citizens,cultivating resilience in an ever changing world." Our district is a better place for having Judy Elson in it.

Sara Driscoll Posted over a year ago

I have had the honor to work with Judy over the last three years at FCS. I worked in her classroom as a paraeducator my first year at FCS. What a joy it was to work in her classroom. The students learned so much from her. She puts movement, excitement, and hands on learning to the test in her classes. She wants each child who walks out of her classroom to be proud of themselves. For the last two years I have been able to be a spelling team coach with Judy. Once again, she pushes our team to do their best, and to support each other. Judy is an absolutely amazing educator, and it has been a privilege to be able to work with her. Congratulations Judy, you truly are a lifesaver.

Linda L. Thurber Posted over a year ago

For years, I worked with Judy and no one was more interested in finding new ways to teach her students. Her willingness to go the extra mile to make the school a learning community was legendary. Encouraging the whole school with the garden, recycling and even making maple syrup were all jobs that went far and above her regular classroom job. She often found ways to collaborate with all the other teachers. I can not think of anyone else that is more deserving of this award, she is truly a lifechanger!

Amy Egert Posted over a year ago

Ms. Elson taught both of my sons and she was a wonderful, positive, encouraging teacher who taught them the importance of the outdoors. They learned how to plant vegetables, make compost and make maple syrup under Ms. Elson’s watchful eye.

Daniela Michaels Posted over a year ago

Ms Elson is a wonderful teacher, mentor and friend at and to FCS. She is a wonderful caring teacher which extends beyond direct classroom learning to our school garden and outdoor space. She coordinates numerous field trips for hands-on learning and helps bring diverse activities to the school, as well as being our teacher liaison for the Parent-Teacher Organization. A wonderful asset to our school and a marvelous human being.