Mentor’s Jacqui Spetrino represents Tribe in Minnesota as All-Star Teacher
When Jacqui Spetrino discovered she had been nominated as an All-Star Teacher at 6AM early one school day, she immediately texted her friend Jim Watson, who had nominated her.
Major League Baseball, through its annual All-Star Teachers Program, had selected Spetrino as one of its 90 finalists for the award—and eventually as one of its 30 winners. The Rice Elementary School (Mentor, Ohio) art teacher could not believe she had been selected nearly one week ago.
“They told us to watch the website, and when I clicked on it and [saw] my face, I was like, ‘Ahhh!’” she said.
All 30 winners — one from each MLB club — were awarded a trip to Minneapolis for the 2014 All-Star Game and honored in a pregame ceremony.
“She’s a great teacher, a great person, but a lot of times the arts teachers do not get enough recognition for what they do; they’re ‘special’ teachers,” Watson said. “She does such a great job with all the kids.”
Among her most notable projects are the Talking Art Museum, which incorporates artistic ability and technology; Pinwheels for Peace; and nursing home visits across the street from her school.
“She does all of these amazing things that people see but don’t realize how much work goes into them,” said Watson, a media specialist and computer lab teacher at Rice. “I saw that [ad] online to nominate her, and I thought, ‘It has to be her.’ We have a whole building full of great people, but she really needed that.
“She (is great) with kids, and she just works with them in such a way that it just pulls out everything they have as far as artistic ability and fun. She incorporates all this technology into it; it just amazes me.”
Spetrino, who has worked with Watson for nearly six years, said she works with 525 kids each school year. As an art teacher, Spetrino works with kids from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“I have them every year, so you really get to know them and build a relationship with them,” she said. “My room’s kind of like the hangout; sometimes I feel like I might be the most positive person that they see all day, so they just hang out with us and it makes a big difference.
“I think that no matter how I feel about a kid, every single one of them thinks that they are my favorite. My favorite thing that a parent ever told me was that her son said, ‘I know that I’m Mrs. Spetrino’s favorite; I can just tell by the way that she looks at me.’ That’s what I love about teaching.”
Spetrino, who is entering her 10th year of teaching, emphasized the importance of including the arts in elementary education; without the support of the Mentor School District, she could not have had this opportunity.
“It’s extremely overwhelming and flattering — that’s the best word I can use,” she said. “We are really lucky that Mentor Schools has an art department and that they’re very supportive of us because we are one of the only districts around that has an elementary art department.
“If you could see what the students do when they graduate, it’s a testament to the school sticking by the whole program. Not cutting that is a big deal; I’m lucky to work in a district like that. With the way that technology is coming, creativity is everything.”
To read about Spetrino’s experience and view photos of her trip to Minneapolis, please visit her blog: http://allstarteacher.tumblr.com/.
–TribeVibe contributor Megan Golden