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Godwin teacher wins award for teaching excellence in a virtual world

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In a time of isolation, it is still important for the community to recognize the hard efforts of teachers to not only do their job correctly, but to inspire students to have a passion for learning. 

Established in 1988, the R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence recognizes public school teachers who distinguish themselves by their inspiring classroom performance. The goal of the program is to promote the idea that effective and positive learning environments in primary school will lead to long-term success in life and discipline.

Only 15 teachers are chosen each year to receive the R.E.B. award and its corresponding cash grant. This year, one of Godwin’s own teachers was selected.

Science department chair and physics teacher Michael Fetsko is a recipient of the award this year. 

“The award that I received was the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence,” said Fetsko. “I was nominated by a student and his parents and then had to complete an interview, [and] the award means a lot to me since it came from a student.”

Fetsko has been teaching for 27 years, and has been at Godwin for 17 years.  “The moment I stepped in front of a classroom, I realized that was exactly where I belonged. I have not ever once regretted the decision.” Fetsko said. 

The R.E.B grant is used for the recipient to support their professional development and further their teaching skills. Fetsko is choosing to use the grant money to pay for a professional development trip to Alaska, explaining that he wanted to go somewhere that his family and he would enjoy.

“I am not looking forward to seeing up close the impact of climate change, but that ultimately is why I chose to go on this trip. But seeing the glaciers, rafting, climbing, hiking, kayaking and spending time with my family are what I am looking forward to the most.” 

According to Godwin senior Ethan Vest, Fetsko has inspired him to push himself in the classroom.

“Mr. Fetsko has impacted me as a student because he’s always encouraged me to challenge myself,” said Vest. “There have been various occasions in the past two years where I’ve been struggling but he’s always pushed me to expand my boundaries and go out of my comfort zone.”

Similarly, senior Leah Eaken believes that Fetsko’s care for his students makes him a deserving recipient of this award. 

“I think Mr. Fetsko deserves this award because he cares a lot about his students and does everything he can to help them succeed. I think that’s what makes him a great teacher,” said Eaken.

Fetsko’s charismatic teaching style has changed students’ mindsets about school and provided a positive learning environment.

 “Fetsko is phenomenal at making his students have fun while learning physics. For example, I remember one lesson last year where he was walking on tables just to get his point across. He screams and yells and gets us all engaged just to be sure we are all learning,” said senior Allan Martin.

Students also noted that he is respectful to everyone in the classroom. 

“Mr. Fetsko has made a big impact on me not just as a student but as a person because he gave me a lot of respect and had a lot of confidence in me to succeed,” said senior Zach Bendheim. 

Fetsko’s unique teaching style reflects his passion for physics and the climate. In Alaska, he will pursue his passion of learning about climate change.

“To me, climate change is the single most important challenge of our time and all we keep doing is waiting for the next generation to tackle the challenge,” said Fetsko. “We are already experiencing the consequences of climate change. As a teacher, I can do my best to present the science to my students, so that hopefully they will feel inspired to do something in some way to combat climate change. With this trip I will be able to bring my own experiences back to my classroom to share with my students and hopefully add my own personal insights into why it is so important that we do something.”

Fetsko’s passion for teaching has inspired many Godwin students over the years. To students who are aspiring teachers, Fetsko emphasizes his love for his job. 

“Love what you are doing every day and love working with young people… it is all about making connections. Every day is a new adventure of highs and sometimes lows… embrace each day with excitement and a smile and teaching is the greatest profession.”

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