2018-06-07 / Front Page

Lawn’s Tuttle named state’s top educator

BY TIM RIEL


Sixth-grade science teacher Charlene Tuttle, left, was honored as Rhode Island’s top teacher by First Gentleman Andy Moffit last week during a surprise ceremony at Lawn School. 
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Sixth-grade science teacher Charlene Tuttle, left, was honored as Rhode Island’s top teacher by First Gentleman Andy Moffit last week during a surprise ceremony at Lawn School. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN The governor’s husband, Andy Moffit, and the state education commissioner, Ken Wagner, arrived at Lawn School last week to congratulate the district’s leadership in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

The assembly included a musical entrance worthy of a monarch’s homecoming, a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” by the jazz band and poetry readings from students in the STEAM curriculum.

It was, however, all a ruse. The reason the auditorium was packed to the rafters was to celebrate Charlene Tuttle, the sixth-grade science teacher who was named Rhode Island’s top educator for 2019.

“Today is not just a STEAM celebration,” Moffit said. He then announced the bombshell as a tearful Tuttle was surprised by her parents. Highlighted by dozens of students armed with streaming noisemakers, the applause lasted more than two minutes.

Dozens of current and future students of sixth-grade science teacher Charlene Tuttle were in attendance for the surprise ceremony in the Lawn School gymnasium.PHOTO BY ANDREAVON HOHENLEITEN Dozens of current and future students of sixth-grade science teacher Charlene Tuttle were in attendance for the surprise ceremony in the Lawn School gymnasium.
PHOTO BY ANDREAVON HOHENLEITEN
“I am overwhelmed and full of gratitude and joy,” said Tuttle, as she cradled the celebratory bouquet of flowers.

“Being a teacher is one of the most important jobs in the world, and being an exceptional teacher like Charlene Tuttle is one of the most significant ways in which you can impact the life of a child,” Moffit said.

Wagner then commended Tuttle for creating projects that keep her students engaged, from underwater robotics at Sheffield Cove to aquaculture lessons with Roger Williams University.

“That’s exactly the kind of experience our students need and deserve,” he said.

Her students agreed. “Ms. Tuttle loves hands-on activities,” wrote one of them. “She loves to learn while doing. She makes me want to learn more about science.”

Jamestown’s superintendent of schools, Ken Duva, corroborated that notion.

“As you walk the halls of the sixth-grade wing at Lawn School, you can sense the excitement that is flowing out the door of the science room,” he said. “Students are laughing, having fun and enjoying the learning that is occurring daily with Ms. Tuttle. Her smile and love for learning is contagious to all her students and colleagues.”

He said Tuttle was an “exemplary teacher who is full of passion” and “radiates love for her students.”

Eighth-grader Alicia Holland, 14, told the audience Tuttle has prepared her for high school, which she will attend in the fall. Tuttle’s colleague, sixth-grade English teacher Brittany Richer, said Tuttle isn’t just a motivational poster on the wall.

“She does it,” Richer said.

As the Ocean State’s teacher of the year, Tuttle will work with the Rhode Island Department of Education throughout the 2018-19 academic year to develop thoughtful policy and lead professional development to improve education statewide. She now becomes eligible to represent Rhode Island as the National Teacher of the Year, which was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.

Tuttle, who has been in the Jamestown school district for six years, was named the town’s top teacher in 2017. She had nearly 20 years of teaching experience before arrived on the island.

Rhode Island’s 2018 winner, Narragansett social studies teacher Kristin Hayes-Leite, said Tuttle is in for “a wild ride.”

“I have a long journey of growth ahead,” Tuttle said. “It’s a large, beautiful task.”

Return to top