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Sunday, December 3, 2023


A Joseph Sibilly Elementary School teacher has been nominated for the nation's most prestigious teacher award, the 2001 Teacher of the Year.
Julliette Gooding, who has taught at Sibilly for 31 years, was selected as 2001 Virgin Islands State Teacher of the Year, which makes her one of 56 candidates for the top spot. Others come from all 50 states, U.S. territories and Puerto rico.
Gooding, a softspoken 54-year-old mother of one local teacher and one college student, said, "It was totally unexpected."
She immediately corrected herself, "It wasn't really unexpected, I had prepared for it, but I had no idea I would be selected, or all the publicity. A friend called to tell me they'd heard it on the radio!"
Gooding teaches kindergarten through third grade now, but has taught all grades up to eighth. "I work very hard with my children," she said. "I love to see them blossom." Her 15 students need special attention, as they haven't succeeded in regular classes.
"Also, with the different ages in my group, I can see leadership qualities you wouldn't see in a regular class," she said.
"Teaching for me is a dream come true," Gooding said. "Since I was three years old and taught my dolls, I knew this was what I wanted to do."
Gooding, a native St. Thomian, almost seems to prefer to talk about her sons' achievements instead of her own. "Neils is 24 and teaches music at Wesleyan Academy," she said. "Michael, 19, is studying at the Berklee College of Music in Boston." She said they must have inherited their musical genes from their father,Alphonse, who "has a lovely singing voice." "All I do," she said, "is play a little piano.
Gooding will participate in the National Outstanding Teacher of the Year Program in Dallas in January as the V.I. representative. The program provides unique opportunities for teachers' professional growth and will enable Gooding to bring in-service programs back to the territory. "I'm really looking forward to that," she said.
If Gooding is selected as one of four national finalists, she will go to Washington, D.C., for interviews with the selection committee in March. In late April the winning teacher will be announced by the president. The finalists will be announced in January.
If chosen National Teacher of the Year, Gooding would take part in a series of national events and programs as part of her official duties. All travel expenses for finalists' interviews, the National Teacher of the Year ceremony and the ensuing yearlong program are paid by the national program.
The National Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc., which is in its 50th year.

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