It was an all around surprising morning for Patricia Page, Rhode Island's 2014 Teacher of the Year. The East Greenwich High School Business and Computer Technology teacher was called, as the whole school was, to an assembly at 8:30 a.m. to hear about the school's success with a social media campaign known as #EGHSmatters.
Page had been named the EG school district's teacher of the year for 2013 and knew she was a finalist for R.I. Teacher of the Year. Still, the assembly – complete with state education commissioner Deborah Gist, Board of Ed Chairwoman Eva Maria Mancuso, EG state representative Anthony Giarusso, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee – was designed to mask its true purpose. That was, to announce that Page was the R.I. 2014 Teacher of the Year.
Page, who worked in finance and business for many years before returning to school at night to earn a Master's degree in education, said she was at first "shocked" when she realized what was happening.
But in customary professional form, Page realized she needed to pull herself together, "to compose my thoughts to make certain I clearly communicate just how thrilled I am to have this wonderful opportunity."
But the surprises didn't end there. The assembly was dismissed, but her students were asked to stay behind. Together they all walked out the gym's side door and there, parked in front of the school, was a bright red Smart Electric Drive car, donated to Page for the year by Inskip's Warwick Automall.
"This is just so fitting, this type of car," said Page as she sat behind the wheel for the first time, "being in education, environmentalism, sustainability. I'm just a perfect fit for this car."
Page will receive gifts from other donors too, including Alex and Ani, Bank of America, Paul Choquette, Collette Tours, Cox Communications, Hasbro, the Hassenfeld Family Foundation, Ned Handy, Johnson & Wales University, the Rhode Island Foundation, and Smart Technology.
"It's more than just what she brings to the classroom," said East Greenwich Supt. Victor Mercurio. "She's always willing to take what the kids are doing in the classroom and show the connection to the outside by having people from the outside come in or go back out. And that's just invaluable."
EGHS Senior Ella Myette spoke to the assembly about how she came to love not only the marketing class she took freshman year, but the teacher too – Mrs. Page.
To see Mrs. Page being named Teacher of the Year.
"She has a vision for what is possible and works toward that goal in every way that she can. Time and time again, I've seen her reach out to the student who feels like he cannot do anything right and help him to feel more special, smarter or more insightful," said Myette.
Page will be entered into the national Teacher of the Year competition. In addition, she will speak at various functions as Rhode Island's Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Mrs. Page!