Dennis Earl Elementary third grade teacher Michelle Cardoso strives to take her students’ learning beyond the classroom and into the community.
And it’s her drive to go beyond the expected that earned Cardoso the title of 2013 Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year for the K-3 grade division.
“I truly had no idea that I would be the one to receive the award,” said Cardoso. “It definitely was the cherry on top of an amazing school year. Not only do I get to go to a job that I absolutely love, I also get to receive recognition. I feel super lucky.”
Cardoso, who’s taught grades second through fifth for the past 20 years, doesn’t go by the rules when she steps foot inside the classroom. She finds new and exciting ways to engage her students into the material she teaches.
“This week I was teaching my students adverbs in an unconventional manner,” said Cardoso. “I had them get on top of their desks and made them hop from one desk to the other while reciting the adverbs. I know that my students will never forget their experiences in my class.”
According to Earl Principal Tami Truax, Cardoso's innovative style of teaching made her worthy of nomination and recognition for the award.
“Michelle is a highly sought out teacher by parents and students due to her innovative teaching style. She has an amazing talent for inspiring every student through lessons that are relevant, engaging, inspiring and unique,” Truax said. “Michelle has a genuine love for children and an extreme passion for teaching.”
Teachers were nominated by their principals and finalists were selected from 70 nominees representing 16 school districts in Stanislaus County. A selection committee, composed of local Rotarians and educators, narrowed the nominations through a paper screening process and then visited the classrooms of the 12 finalists.
Cardoso paid tribute to her father, Jim Bowen, who passed away in 2011, at the Rotary Awards Luncheon on May 7.
“I felt like I was honoring him and his profession,” said Cardoso. “He was an educator at CSU Stanislaus and always instilled how important education was. He was one of my biggest inspirations in becoming a teacher.”
Cardoso will have the chance to advance to the next level of the Teacher of the Year program, where she will have the opportunity to represent Earl Elementary on a state level. Representatives of major educational and parent organizations and veteran teachers of the year make final selections. If she wins, she proceeds to a national level program.
For Cardoso, the best thing about being an educator is coming to work excited to teach every day. She has no plans to take a break this summer, as she will bring her innovative teaching methods to summer school.
“It’s a growing family,” said Cardoso. “Every year I get 20 little family members and it continues to grow. In my 20 years of teaching I’ve had 400 kids and hundreds of memories built. We create magic in the classroom. It is truly the best job ever.”