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Honor goes to high-tech teach



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Jeff Peariso was awarded Teacher of the Year award for 2012. (click for larger version)
May 30, 2012 - When this year's Clarkston Teacher of the Year award recipient was announced, video camera operator Jeff Peariso didn't get the reaction shot.

That's because Peariso, also math teacher at Clarkston Junior High School, was the winner.

"I'm very surprised," he said, explaining he hadn't prepared an acceptance speech. "I've been nominated before, but this one has always eluded me. This is nice, it's exciting."

"I'm really proud of him," said Eileen Peariso, Jeff's mother, who was there with the rest of his family. Jeff was nominated for his innovative work in the classroom, said junior high Principal Adam Kern.

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"He's constantly reinventing himself to find new ways to reach students," Kern said.

His ideas include flipping the classroom – preparing an online video lesson for students to watch at home, then come in to class to do the "homework" – as well as incorporating notebook computers, smartboards, livestreaming instruction over the Internet, blogs, texting, and other technology into his classes.

Peariso credits Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock's leadership with making his success possible.

"He opened a huge door for me," the teacher said. "I'm able to come up with an idea and run with it."

Teachers make the district successful, Rock said.

"Nothing else matters but good teachers," Rock said. "No one up here is not teacher of the year. They're all awesome. They do incredible things for the kids."

Nominees also included Clarkston Junior High School teachers Karen Czarnecki and Jon Paddock; Sashabaw Middle School teachers Howard Andress, MariAnn Pace-Bleau, and Paul Sabbag; Renaissance High School teacher Sara Mastie; and Clarkston High School teachers Amy Quayle and Amy Hohlbein.

Selecting one for the award was a difficult process, said Mike Page, chairman of the Clarkston Foundation Teacher of the Year Selection Committee.

"The teachers are all exceptional," Page said.

The Foundation's support was also instrumental for teachers – the non-profit group provides grants for purchase of technology such as an Echo smartpen.

"Clarkston Foundation makes so much of a difference for us," Peariso said.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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