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Special honor for special teacher

By: Eileen Wilson Special to The Press-Tribune
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Gina Wilson, a special education teacher at Ridgeview Elementary School in Granite Bay, recently received an award from Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary professional women educator’s sorority. The award, a $250 check from the sorority’s altruistic project for Local Resource Assistance, was an unexpected and wonderful surprise for Wilson, who received the honor during the school’s teacher-appreciation luncheon. “I think they were just delightful,” she said of Diana Galvan, immediate past president of the Roseville Beta Eta chapter of the honorary sorority. “I was just thrilled – how often, on a Friday, does someone hand you a $250 check?” Wilson was one of two area teachers to receive the scholarship this fall. Those who work with Wilson on a regular basis agree the award was well-deserved. “Ms. Wilson’s classroom is creative and innovative,” said Robyn Emme, Ridgeview resource assistant. “She is dedicated to her students and works hard to ensure their success. She’s a pleasure to work with.” The other award, according to Galvan, will go to a new teacher in the Roseville Joint Union High School District. “Our chapter plans to award two of these resource scholarships for the first time this year,” Wilson said. The cash award couldn’t have been better timed. “I bought textbooks that night,” Wilson said. “I’m taking a class on instructing math and science to students, through Chapman University, so it was an awesome time to get money.” Wilson, who became a first-year teacher this fall, is a woman of many talents. A bachelor’s degree in journalism and an internship at Self Magazine led her to a career as an editor for 10 years. In addition to her jobs with publishers and other print venues, she turned her passion for baking in to a money-making enterprise. “For a year I rented commercial space and was a full-time baker,” she said. But the hours didn’t allow her to spend as much time with her kids, Annie, a third-grader, and Zach, an eighth-grade student, as she would like. She decided to go back to school to become a teacher, and earned an intern credential, to focus on special education. Wilson said she learned how to understand special-needs children through college courses, but learned even more by being a parent. “I have a child who is in special education,” she said of her son, Zach. Wilson, a half-time teacher, teaches students English and language arts, and she joins a math class each day, where she assists a group of eight or nine kids individually with various math concepts. “Math is my favorite subject to teach,” she said, “But I was so afraid of math when I was in school. It turns out it wasn’t just me, it was my teachers – they didn’t understand my brain.” Wilson said she loves to take her childhood math experiences, and use them to help her students. “I like to teach math as much as possible because I know why they (the students) don’t get it. I’ll show them three or four different ways – everyone gets it (math) in a different way,” she said. Wilson said she appreciates being recognized by Alpha Delta Kappa, and was thrilled to make a purchase that will further her education and help her be a better teacher. Wilson’s daughter however had a different idea. “She thought I should have spent it on shoes,” she said.