When the school year at Lake Myra Elementary ends on June 30, Aimee Pattison will have more reason than normal to feel a sense of accomplishment.
That date will mark the end of a school year for which Pattison earned the title of Wake County Public Schools Teacher Assistant of the Year.
Pattison was nominated by her peers and interviewed at the county level as one of five finalists before being announced as the recipient of the award during a banquet in Cary last month.
“When we went to the banquet, we all had a feeling she would win because we all just know she’s that great,” said Lake Myra Principal Tina Zarzecki. “She’s someone special. She’s just one of those educators that’s a natural. She could be a role model for teachers, as well.”
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The award winner wasn’t made public until Pattison and the four other finalists were brought onto the stage and bios of each were presented.
“Any one of us could have won it, from hearing the biographies,” Pattison said. “I was really honored but definitely shocked. There were a lot of people in the room and it was overwhelming. It was definitely an amazing night.”
Originally from Rhode Island, Pattison is wrapping up her fourth year at the Wendell school.
Her duties include literacy sessions with kindergarten and first-grade students, and guidance specials with first- and second-graders. But she plays more roles than her title of kindergarten and first-grade teacher assistant suggests.
Zarzecki says Pattison is popular with the kids – that she’s the one they gravitate to when they want to share their successes, or when they are having a bad day and could use some support.
“She is so willing to go above and beyond what is required of her to do what is best for the kids,” Zarzecki said. “She’s not only concerned about their academic growth but their social and emotional growth as well, which is pretty special.”
Pattison thinks her effort to connect with the students helped earn her the recognition.
A street hockey club she runs has allowed her to talk to students on a more personal level and introduce them to new things. The same applies to knitting sessions she got boys and girls involved in during the before-school care program she runs.
“One of the things that meant a lot that I just know was taken into consideration (for the award) was that a fifth-grader (wrote) a recommendation letter about how I run the street hockey club and how it’s cool I can talk to the kids on non-academic levels,” Pattison said. “It meant a lot that he recognized that; it meant I was doing my job that the kids understood they can try new things.”
When she’s not at Lake Myra, Pattison is likely trying to find a way to do something active outdoors. She’s into running, biking, swimming and hiking. She has a 5K with her daughter coming up soon and a 10K with her son planned for the fall.
Pattison lives in Knightdale with her husband, Brian, a third-grade teacher at Lake Myra. They have two children; Brendan, 12, and Avelin, 9.
She is currently working on her teaching certification at William Peace University, and said she has about two years left in the process. Zarzecki hopes to have an opening for Pattison at Lake Myra when that time comes.