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March 23, 2007

Wabasso teacher of the year: Strong suit is specialized training

From: Sebastian Sun - Sebastian,FL,USA - Mar 23, 2007

March 23, 2007

WABASSO — The past six months have been a whirlwind for Wabasso School speech and language teacher Kimberly Webster.
In December, she received notice from the Indian River County School District that her colleagues had named her Teacher of the Year at her school. And shortly after, she gave birth to her first child, a daughter, that she and husband Mitch have named Kailee.

For obvious reasons, Webster is taking a break from the classroom for the next several months, but her principal is confident that she'll return to teaching by the end of the current school year.
"The kids really love her," said Principal Tom Gollery. "She works with students throughout our whole school, as well as several other schools throughout the district. Her enthusiasm is contagious and we can't wait to have her back."

Webster's co-worker Brenda Kahn, who received Employee of the Year honors from the School District in 1990, said that Webster is a kind, caring individual. "I think she's outstanding and has a great feel for all of the kids on our campus," said Kahn. "She tries to help everyone possible and that's one of the reasons why we nominated her to be teacher of the year."

Gollery said that Webster is a graduate of Gallaudet University, a liberal arts college that specializes in programs for deaf, hard of hearing and hearing students. The university also enjoys international renown for its research on the history, language and culture of deaf people.

"I have been in special education for almost 30 years and she is the first person I have worked with that has that specialized training," said Gollery. "The college focuses on communications disorders and the preparation that Kim received at Gallaudet has made her very effective with our kids.

"She is great teacher and I've never seen her when she wasn't focused on her students."

As a teenager, Webster attended St. Edward's Upper School in Vero Beach and she volunteered with the "Pals in Partnership" program, a joint venture between St. Edward's and the Wabasso School.

Through this unique program, students from St. Edward's volunteer about 1,500 hours annually to help special needs children at the Wabasso School and Webster was one of the high school mentors.

"I think it is just remarkable that she gave her time as a youngster to help our students and now, she's back to teach here," said Gollery.

"It really shows the type of individual she is."

Faculty at each Indian River County school has voted one peer as its Teacher of the Year. Over the past few weeks, the Sebastian Sun has profiled all of the Teachers of the Year at the North County schools. The district's 2008 Teacher of the Year Lisa Mucci, of Sebastian Elementary, will advance to the state finals in May.

© 2007 Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.