Courtney Eminger was nominated by her sister, Katherine Eminger.
Courtney spent many days in her basement as a child teaching her stuffed animals. At 17 years old, she went off to Rhode Island College to pursue a degree in both Elementary Education and Special Education. She had just survived Hodgkin's lymphoma and was living her life to the fullest. After graduating with her degree and receiving her certification, it took her a few years to be "ready" to teach. She had so much to explore and learn about the world before helping students to do the same.
When she was 27, she started substitute teaching in her district. She became someone who everyone knew and wanted in their classrooms if they were going to be out. She was dependable, responsible, and caring. Courtney had a few long-term sub opportunities before having a full-time position. In her first year, she was a K-5 DPT and Academic Support teacher. She is now a 4th and 5th-grade self-contained special educator.
"I do not think I have seen anyone work harder than my sister," said Katherine. "She puts in so much time and effort to make sure that her students are getting the best education possible. Their social-emotional development and well-being is her biggest priority. Especially during these challenging times, students are feeling so much. She checks-in with her students every day to make sure that they are taking care of themselves. She gives them an opportunity to express their feelings and needs. Courtney does everything she can to support them in this area so that they can focus on learning."
Courtney's students come from many different backgrounds, and she works closely with their families to get the full picture of their children. She works hard to provide resources in both English and Spanish to ensure that communication is not a barrier to success. Although she does not speak fluent Spanish, she communicates in the family's preferred language. She has also spent time dropping off school supplies and materials to students' houses to make sure that students all have what they need. These materials have come from her own money and resources.
"She is juggling both in-person students and distance learners at the same time. I began my year as a Kindergarten teacher doing the same thing, and I know how challenging it can be," said Katherine. "Two months later, she is still going strong. Please don't get me wrong, there are days where she falls apart. She comes home and melts into the couch, but the next day, she gets up early, works late, and gets everything done. She recognizes her needs as a person and practices yoga to make sure that she is giving her best self to her students."
"Although I have never been in her school community, I am confident that her coworkers and administration would agree with this testimony," said Katherine. "I know that so many people gravitate toward Courtney because she radiates warmth. She recently joined the Sunshine committee, which I think is perfect for her. She is sunshine! Of course, she works very hard on this aspect of her job as well."
"My sister continues to be an inspiration to myself as a first-year teacher, her students, and all of those around her," said Katherine. "Her prior students reach out to her often to chat or receive help. At the beginning of this year, she spent time on the phone with a previous student helping him to recover his password for his school account. Her current and former students know they can count on her for support, care, and love. She really has changed their lives for good."