FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 8, 2006
REDMOND TEACHER WINS NATIONAL DISNEY EDUCATION AWARD
Heather Renz, a fourth-grade teacher at Vern Patrick Elementary, has been chosen from more than 75,000 nominees nationwide to receive the 2006 Disney Teacher Award in celebration of her creativity, innovative teaching methods, and ability to inspire her students.
As one of only 44 Disney Teacher Honorees, Renz receives $10,000 from Disney and a trip to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., for a week of fun and celebration from July 29 to August 3. In addition, Disney awards $5,000 to Tom McCall Elementary.
"Disney is dedicated to brightening the lives of children and we salute dedicated teachers like Mrs. Renz for using creativity in their classrooms to inspire our children to achieve more than they ever thought possible," said Terry Wick, Vice President of Disney Worldwide Outreach. "We hope communities across the country will join us in thanking all their great teachers."
Disney Teacher Honorees are selected by their peers/representatives of leading educational associations from across the United States and former Disney Teacher Honorees. Honorees come from every subject field and every level of PreK-12 teaching. Renz is one of three Honorees being recognized for intermediate education.
Creativity is key in Renz's classroom. "As part of our U.S. studies, students chose a state, and then became the director of tourism for that state. They created a travel brochure, designed a postage stamp for their state, computed the mileage and gas cost to drive there, and wrote a persuasive letter convincing their family to take them there," explained Renz.
"The thing that gets me out that door every day is that I truly see the future in my students' eyes and I want to influence that future," said Renz. "There is no greater honor, no better feeling than that of teaching."
The Disney Teacher Awards do not simply honor one teacher; they also make an investment in that teacher's educational community. In addition to the monetary awards, Disney will also fly Renz and Tom McCall Principal Linda Seeberg to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., in October for a six-day professional development institute where they can refine their own innovative teaching approaches by sharing ideas and learn how to engage other teachers to build an effective collaborative teaching culture at their school.
Once they return, Renz and Seebrg will work with experts from the Center for Collaborative Education in Boston to design a school-wide plan for making teaching more effective. Renz will take a leadership role, educating her fellow teachers in the creative techniques that have made her so successful at connecting with students.
"I am moving to Tom McCall, our newly constructed elementary school, next year. Staff are coming from six different buildings. The Disney Professional Development training comes at just the right time for us. We can build a powerful program using the collaborative culture knowledge, the power of joint examination of student work, and building teacher leadership from the professional development work," said Renz.
"Exploration, discovery, teamwork, and technology are the cornerstones of Heather's instruction," wrote Rawlings in a letter to Disney. "Heather exemplifies teaching at its finest, defines collegiality, and embodies lifelong learning."
During the week of celebratory events in Anaheim, five exceptional teachers will be chosen from the 44 Honorees. Four Outstanding Teachers and one Disney Teacher of the Year will receive an additional $15,000 from Disney.
"I hope I can represent every teacher and tell the story of pride, dedication, and honor those of us who are called to teach every day," said Renz.
About Disney Worldwide Outreach: The Disney Teacher Awards program is part of Disney Worldwide Outreach. Disney is dedicated to making the wishes of families and children a reality through public service initiatives, community outreach and volunteerism in the areas of compassion, learning, the arts and the environment. In 2005, Disney contributed more than $190 million in cash, in-kind support and public service air time globally. Disney volunteers, company employees who donate their time to outreach projects, contributed more than 442,000 hours of service. For more information on Disney's outreach initiatives, please visit www.disneyhand.com. For more on the Disney Teacher Awards, please visit www.disneyteacherawards.org
Redmond Spokesman Article
May 17, 2006