Category: Current Issue

WOODSTOCK — The Woodstock Academy recently named its Teacher of the Year and Staff Member of the Year.
The Teacher of the Year is Lauren Churchill. Her involvement with the music department at The Woodstock Academy provides her the unique opportunity to work with many of her students for four years. As her students grow through their high school careers, so do her connections with each of them.
“I feel very lucky to spend so much of these formative years teaching and helping students to grow into incredible humans,” said Churchill, adding, “Whether I have a student for four years or one semester, I truly think of them as my kids and feel an immense amount of joy when I am able to help a student discover their strengths and build self-confidence.”
Churchill has become heavily involved in all-things music in and out of the classroom during her fifteen years of teaching at The Academy. She teaches concert band, symphonic band, percussion prep, piano I, piano II, music theory ECE and unified music. In addition, she is a co-advisor for Tri-M Music Honor Society, conducts the jazz band, directs and conducts the annual spring musical, and manages the private music lesson program at The Academy.
While Churchill is widely recognized for her high-caliber ability to teach music to students of all experience levels, her students were eager to emphasize the impact she’s made on them through her consistent display of kindness and positivity. Since re-introducing a sense of normalcy to the school community after shifting back to in-person learning, Churchill’s classrooms have been especially noted as a space for students to safely express themselves and the challenges they face. During the nomination process for Teacher of the Year, a student wrote, “While I’ve been struggling, Mrs. Churchill has been with me every step of the way. She has so much love for all her students and when the going gets tough she doesn’t shy away, she helps us with any problems we have.”
For five years, Paraprofessional Crista Peters has been known at The Woodstock Academy as a warm, positive human with a genuine dedication to helping students succeed.
Peters began her paraprofessional role floating around classrooms between students, helping them stay on task, answer any questions, and listen to each student’s need and desire to excel. She is passionate about getting to know the entirety of her students; how they are doing, what they need, and creating an individualized experience for each student to get the very best out of them.
“Crista is an exceptionally kind person, always willing to meet students where they are, providing them support and encouragement to help them succeed. When we were remote last school year, Crista came in to run our Intensive Learning Lab so that students who were struggling with learning at home had a safe and supportive place to come in to complete their learning,” said Dr. Michael Harten, dean of academics.
During the nomination process for Staff Member of the Year, it was clear that Peters is a well-loved presence in The Woodstock Academy community. One nomination from a faculty member wrote, “Crista does amazing work with students, often those with the greatest needs – students who often are resistant to that help. Her persistence, care, and dedication help break down those barriers.”
Over the past year and a half, Peters has been successfully managing Learning Assistance Block, a program designed for students who need additional academic support. In this role Peters had the opportunity to work with a variety of students during all four blocks, connecting with them while building their trust and confidence to complete class assignments with independence. “Seeing the student feel like they can in fact do it is priceless,” she said. Peters is departing the Academy community to pursue her next chapter.