You’re sitting in class taking notes off of a Powerpoint that your teacher is narrating as he/she stands in the front of the classroom. You and your peers hurry to jot down the important information from each slide as the teacher goes from one to the next.
This is the case in the majority of Woodland classrooms throughout the building on any given day. However, this is not the case in the classroom of Lisa Olivere, who has been named Teacher of the Year for 2017.
Olivere, who integrates many different activities into her lessons, stands out for her methods of teaching. For example, Olivere hands out printed powerpoint slides for her students to use in peer conversations and supplements them with video clips.
Olivere, a social studies teacher who also holds many leadership positions such as head of the social studies department, NEASC chairperson, co-advisor to Woodland Worldwide, and many more, has been a teacher at Woodland since its doors first opened in 2001.
Grateful to be recognized for her work as an educator, Olivere says she is humbled to represent all of the hard working teachers in Region 16 who go unnoticed for all that they contribute to their students and school year after year.
When asked what her favorite part about working at Woodland is, Olivere cites the unique culture in which students and teachers develop strong bonds, which is something that does not occur often at other schools. She likes that students feel comfortable seeking out their teachers for support that goes beyond academics to social guidance while navigating through the high school years. Whether it be through the advisory program, which fosters student and teacher relationships, or the friendships that develop between fellow teachers, Olivere feels Woodland is a both fun and supportive place to work and go to school.
Amongst the many academic and athletic achievements, social gatherings, and community events that have occurred at Woodland over the years, Olivere refers to the time Chris Herren came to speak to students and staff last year as a standout memory. She felt it was truly awe inspiring to watch WRHS graduate Jack Pinho introduce Chris Herren and then get to listen to his message of self worth and self love. She remembers how quiet the gymnasium was that day as the entire student body was present, attentive, and engaged in listening to Herren’s speech.
Olivere’s experience working for Region 16 started when Woodland first opened in 2001. She was driven to begin working at Woodland because she wanted to be a part of the group of teachers, administrators, parents, and students who got to build a school from the ground level up. As an incoming teacher, she was able to create the framework that Woodland’s school culture is built around, which is rare. For example, in the first few years of Woodland’s opening, she was able to contribute to decisions made pertaining to the courses, clubs and athletic teams that would be offered, the curriculum that would be taught, and the traditions that would be established. Olivere is grateful to have been a part of this since most incoming teachers simply join a preexisting organization in which most of these decisions have already been made.
Advice Olivere would offer to new teachers or students aspiring to become a teacher is to make sure that they pursue teaching for the right reasons. Misconceptions about teaching such as the idea that teachers end their workday at 2:30 p.m. and enjoy leisurely summers off are not true. As evidence, Olivere states that before she was a teacher, she worked for Poland Spring Water in the business field. During that time, she worked sixty hours a week. As a teacher, she still works at least sixty hours a week. Olivere also mentions the lack of fiscal resources allocated to education. She feels, therefore, that one should not aspire to become a teacher with free time and money as their motivating factors. Instead, Olivere says to become a teacher in the hopes of making a positive impact on the world. To be prepared to work hard, adapt to changes, have a desire to learn, and have lots of patience. Lastly, she includes that there is no easy formula and that each student has a unique story or history and one must be prepared to figure out how to help them attain their full potential.
While teaching is a very involved job, for Olivere, it is extremely rewarding because it carries such great significance.
She said, “Our democracy depends on an educated populous. The knowledge and skills we arm our students with have the power to shape them, their lives, our country, and the world forever.”