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Vinny Chiaramonte, a computer science teacher at Bumpus Middle School, at left, is Hoover’s 2015-16 Secondary Teacher of the Year. Kathryne Flippo, a kindergarten teacher at Bluff Park Elementary, is the Elementary Teacher of the Year. Photos courtesy of Hoover City Schools.
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Vinny Chiaramonte probably wasn’t the most likely candidate to become a “Teacher of the Year” when he was growing up.
While he had a high IQ of 140, he dropped out of high school as a second-year freshman, struggling to find his place in the world. Little did he know he would one day go to college, get a master’s degree and become a teacher.
And this year, Chiaramonte, a computer science teacher at Bumpus Middle School, was named the 2015-16 Secondary Teacher of the Year for Hoover City Schools.
Kathryne Flippo, a kindergarten teacher at Bluff Park Elementary, is Hoover’s Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Chiaramonte said what helped turned things around for him were the people in his life who saw value in him and helped him find direction. He got his General Educational Development diploma and entered college the same time as his peers. He has now been teaching for six years and is in his second year at Bumpus, with a firm grasp of his purpose.
“I found that my place was to expose, impact, equip and empower young people to think beyond their current place in life and dream that there is quite literally a world of options out there,” Chiaramonte said in a biography he wrote after he was named Bumpus’ Teacher of the Year.
“I want them to avoid making some of the same mistakes I did and make wise choices,” he wrote. “I became a teacher because I want to build relationships with students at this critical time in their development, so that I can impact and equip them in a positive way and empower them for their personal journey through this world. I want to instill in them the confidence I lacked as a student. I want them to know and believe they have an advocate and that I care about them as individuals.”
Chiaramonte has been a leader among teachers since arriving at Bumpus. He served on the team that works with the school’s Continuous Improvement Plan and helped plan and design the structure for a staff development retreat. He also led staff sessions to hash out solutions and implementation methods, and he led teachers in integrating technology in the classroom and how to use Twitter in their teaching.
But it’s the impact he’s able to have on students that gives him the most reward, he said.
Elementary Teacher of the Year
Flippo, Hoover’s 2015-16 Elementary Teacher of the Year, has been teaching for nine years, the past four at Bluff Park.
Flippo, in her biography essay, said she remembers growing up, watching her father go to a job he never truly enjoyed. That cemented in her a desire to pursue a profession that’s meaningful to her, and she found that in teaching.
“I strive to teach my students to be thinkers, to explore their curiosities, to harvest their interests, and to express themselves,” Flippo wrote. “Students love to learn, and I feel like it is my job as an educator to harness that and be their facilitator.”
Young children and teachers of young children often are overlooked, she said. There is an epidemic of ignorance about how they should be learning in school, she said.
“Children learn through real life experiences, hands-on approaches, in-depth conversations, and in a classroom that promotes a community that is safe for people to voice their opinions and to learn from different opinions,” she wrote.
Many people walk into her classroom, see many things happening at the same time and perceive the classroom is in chaos, she wrote.
“It isn’t the sterile classroom with no talking that I learned in,” she said. “It involves noise, movement and discussion. Learners grow through conversations and expressing their thoughts. I am laying a foundation in my students each year to be excited about school and learning, to celebrate their differences, and to celebrate their voice and the impact it has on our world.”