Thurston Middle School’s foreign language teacher, Dave Dixon, earned the praise of his peers, named the district’s teacher of the year, the district announced Tuesday.
“I have worked with literally hundreds of teachers in my career, and Dave is among the top 1 percent I have ever worked with,” said Supt. Sherine Smith.
“His care and concern for students and learning are unequaled among his peers,” Smith said.
Dixon, who will retire in June after 25 years with the district, expressed “absolute astonishment” at his selection.
He described two experiences that inform his attitudes toward teaching. One involved a master teacher, who expressed unconcern about a student retaking a test for a better grade though lesser credit. His point was that understanding the material mattered more than the score, Dixon said. And the other involved his own experience learning a new language, Mandarin. Returning to the classroom rekindled his patience with first-time language students.
Dixon earned degrees in education and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his master’s, also in Spanish, from Middlebury College.
At Thurston, Dixon starts his day with a zero period. He takes his lunch during the break, allowing time to meet with students during their lunch. “Whether helping students with challenging concepts or simply watching a round of dominoes in our annual tournament, this less structured part of the day is both fun and rewarding as I get to relate to the students on a more relaxed basis,” he said.
Dixon anticipates missing the energy, enthusiasm and humor of his students. He knows he’ll miss supervising their cultural excursions. “They were the best.”