By Robert F. Gilbert
The Granby Public Schools proudly recognized Jodi Okenquist as the 2015-16 Teacher of the Year at the district’s closing ceremonies on June 18. An overwhelmed Jodi was joined on stage by her family members to celebrate this wonderful honor. Jodi Okenquist is a talented, dedicated and passionate seventh grade social studies teacher who has worked at Granby Memorial Middle School for the past seven years. Jodi has deep roots in Granby. She grew up in the town, attended the Granby public schools and completed her student teaching under the mentorship of colleague Jay Cullen.
Colleagues describe Jodi as enthusiastic and extremely dedicated to her students. Students often eat lunch in Ms. Okenquist’s room in order to take advantage of the extra help that she so willingly provides. She will even head out to the buses at the end of the day to find those students who intended, but forgot, to stay after school for support—all this so they don’t lose an opportunity to receive the needed help!
Jodi describes teaching as more than a career. She describes it as an act of love. She wants her students to know that they are recognized as individuals who have meaning and value, and are all capable of success. Jodi strives to equip each of her students with the skills and knowledge they need in order to grow and reach their future goals and aspirations.
Besides being an outstanding teacher in the classroom, Jodi does whatever it takes to help her students. She has been a cross-country coach, where she emphasizes the importance of staying active through physical activity. She has served as a summer school instructor, providing needed reinforcement of skills during the summer months. Jodi has also served as Saturday school supervisor, as well as a supporter in the “Sharing to Learn” program where she helps students reach out to students in South Africa. She has also served as a chaperone on the annual 8th grade trip to Washington, DC.
One of Jodi’s major contributions to her students and school has been in her role as History Day Coordinator/Advisor. Jodi is committed to helping her students to bring history to life through challenging and encouraging their participation, not only in the school based History Day activities, but also entering them in the state and national competitions.
While Jodi acknowledges that teaching is hard work, she is also quick to remind us that there is play, joy, humor, and love. Jodi is a teacher who learns and laughs alongside her students. This teacher is totally passionate about what she does, which is one reason her students love being in her classroom.
As Granby’s Teacher of the Year, Jodi will be recognized at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in November along with all other Teacher of the Year recipients from Connecticut towns. Please join us in congratulating Jodi Okenquist as Granby’s 2015-16 Teacher of the Year!