COVENTRY — According to her colleagues at Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School, there are numerous words that can be used to describe Cheryl Saucier. She’s fair; she’s dedicated; she’s positive; she’s an advocate for her students. And it’s for those reasons — plus many more — that she’s been named Coventry Public Schools’ 2020 teacher of the year.
“I’m absolutely humbled,” Saucier said at a virtual celebration during last week’s school committee meeting. “I’m so honored to just be part of an incredible building.”
Saucier, who's been teaching for a decade and has worked for eight years in Coventry’s school district, teaches both English Language Arts (ELA) and social studies. She said Thursday that she’s proud to work at the middle school, and praised her colleagues for making it easy to come to work everyday.
“It’s easy to do my job because I’m surrounded by amazing people,” Saucier said, “from an incredibly supportive administration team, to an amazing group of teachers and staff members.”
Saucier and her husband moved to town nearly three decades ago. Their daughters graduated from the Coventry Public Schools, Saucier told school committee members, and her oldest daughter is now also a teacher in the district. In a few years, she added, her grandson will enter the district as a student.
“We are definitely a Coventry family,” she said, “and I’m just so excited to represent our amazing district on the state level.”
Joseph Lucian, principal at Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School, lauded Saucier for her teaching ability and her constant diligence in preparing lessons. He added that he admires her for the “genuine and positive” rapport she’s built with her students.
“She is an outstanding teacher and I couldn’t be more proud to have her in my building,” Lucian said, calling her an “expert teacher practitioner” and an “awesome poster person for what teacher of the year should be.”
When other teachers have sought to improve their own practices, Lucian has recommended that they observe Saucier, who he said “makes [teaching] look easy” despite the through preparation that goes into each lesson.
“Many times I go into her classroom to observe her referring to student data as she plans for future lessons,” he added. “That’s something that we’ve really been pushing, and she’s exceptional with that.”
Saucier has a deep understanding of each student’s needs, Lucian said, and she strives to prioritize those needs, recognizing that there’s no “one size fits all” solution to addressing them.
“She’s an amazing teacher,” he continued. “If I ever had a son or daughter that had her for a teacher, I would be ecstatic about it.”
School committee members also took time Thursday to congratulate Saucier, who was awarded the “teacher of the year” title out of nominees from each of the district’s schools, and to thank her for her dedication.
“I’m so proud to have you working for the school system in Coventry,” school committee vice chair David Florio said.
School committee member Luke Murray said he appreciates the time Saucier puts into shaping her lessons to fit her students’ individual needs.
“It’s always nice to observe those who put in the extra time and effort,” Murray added. “We all think a teacher’s role is well defined, but you have a lot of flexibility to define it in your own way, and you’ve done that.”
Committee member James Pierson said he looks forward to “having [Saucier] in the district for a long time.”
“I think you understand that there’s so much on the line with teaching future generations,” Pierson said, "and you’re giving them such a wonderful experience.”
Katherine Patenaude, chair of the school committee, said that what stood out to her as she read the comments on her nomination form is that Saucier “never fails to check in with [her] colleagues.”
“You’ve established relationships, not only with your students, but obviously with your colleagues, and they consider you to be a friend,” Patenaude said. “For that, plus all the wonderful things you do as a teacher, we’re very proud of you.”
Committee member Donna Kalunian echoed that.
“It’s clear that this is not just a job to you,” Kalunian said. “You actually put your heart and soul into going to that classroom every day. I’m really, really proud that you’re part of Coventry.”