• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff 16

Teacher of the Year: Helping students become better readers


TEE FIERO describes her training to become a Reading Recovery teacher at Northside Elementary School as "the best training I've ever had." (Photo by Bob Vlach)

For 18 years, Tee Fiero has been the Reading Recovery teacher at Northside Elementary School. And she still loves what she does every day for her students. "You're teaching children how to solve problems so they can go on and keep reading," says Fiero, who served on Reading Recovery's national board for two three-year terms. "It's a problem-solving, accelerated program" that allows students to become better readers. During a 30-minute lesson, a student will read three or four books, with Fiero providing guidance along the way. She says a mirror allows students to see what their mouths are doing when they're reading to her. "So it's kind of a self-assessment for them," she explains, "to be able to look at my mouth, look at your mouth ... Are they the same?" In addition to her 30-minute, one-on-one sessions with first-graders for up to 20 weeks, Fiero also provides small group instruction to four students at a time. "I just love to watch them grow," she says of her students. "And ... every kid that I teach teaches me something ... Every kid's different, but there's always at least one or two kids where I have to really problem-solve with and think about" how she can help them read on grade level with their peers. Often students aren't very confident readers, but by the end of 20 weeks - and some even earlier - most are reading with their peers. "They blossom," says Fiero. After earning a special education degree at the University of Kentucky, Fiero married and started a family. She began her career as a part-time teacher at the Early Childhood Center at Midway College, when her two children were still young. She eventually became its program director, but now loves being the Reading Recovery teacher at Northside Elementary and working with classroom teachers to ensure students are being helped by what she does irregardless of where they begin their journey to becoming better readers. Fiero, who earned a master's degree at Georgetown College, says her training to become a Reading Recovery teacher was the best she's ever had as an educator. "I wish every teacher had the opportunity," she explains, "because I think it's made me a much better teacher. I know it's made me a better teacher. And it's made me a better observer of kids. "The training gives you a whole new perspective on how you look at teaching and learning," adds Fiero, who has lived in Midway with her husband, Robert, for about 25 years. She describes being selected as Northside Elementary School's Teacher of the Year as a surprise, and says "every teacher in this building is a Teacher of the Year," before later adding, "I love working with the other teachers." (This is the sixth in a series of seven feature stories about Woodford County Public Schools' 2016-17 Teachers of the Year.)

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