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Press Release

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Miami-Dade County Teacher Named As One of Top Five Finalists for 2010 Macy's/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year

Who: Congratulations to Patricia Fairclough (fair-cloth), a 2nd Grade Teacher at Air Base Elementary School. Air Base Elementary School is located at 12829 SW 272 Street, Homestead, FL 33032.

What/When: Today, Florida Department of Education Commissioner, Dr. Eric J. Smith, named her one of five finalists for the 2010 Macy's/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year. Maria Rodriguez, General Manager of Macy's at Southland Mall, presented Fairclough with a $5,000 check and a $500 Macy's electronic gift card. Rodriguez also presented school principal, Raul Calzadilla Jr., with a $1,000 check for Air Base Elementary School. The 2010 Macy's/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year will be named during an awards gala on July 9, 2009 at 6:30p.m. at Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios CityWalk in Orlando, Florida.

Patricia Fairclough - Air Base Elementary School, Miami-Dade County Schools

Patricia Fairclough admits she is a product of this country’s education system, “Public education is who I am – a young African American girl growing up in deplorable living conditions, who, thanks to the positive influence of public education, was embraced, heart and mind, by warm and loving teachers.” For the last eight years, Patricia has dedicated herself to the teaching profession, and is a 2nd grade Reading, Language Arts, and Social Studies teacher at Air Base Elementary School in Homestead in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Patricia’s passion and lifelong commitment to learning is witnessed in her young learners’ accomplishments. She begins preparing for her new group of students, even before the old school year is over. By studying individual student achievement, she has been able to improve overall academic performance in all of her students in critical subjects such as reading fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. She also uses graphic organizers, multimedia presentations, reader’s theatre, and student-led literature circles, to help students engage in critical thinking and organize complex ideas.

Patricia believes parental involvement is key in the classroom. At the beginning of each year, she schedules a parent meeting to outline her plans and projects for the year. She also organizes parent committees, to allow parents to select a project they are interested in to bring that project or event to life. Parents are also encouraged to take part in Patricia’s “Mystery Reader” program. Parents or a family member serve as a “Mystery” guest inside the classroom and read aloud their book of choice. Every week, students eagerly wait to see whose mom, dad, brother or grandmother will be participating. Patricia and her students also produce and publish a monthly newsletter “The Fairclough Falcon” to keep parents up to date of the exciting events taking place in the classroom.

Patricia believes teachers can make an impact in and outside of the classroom. Her dedication extends far beyond her classroom’s four walls. Patricia is responsible for developing Air Base Elementary School’s Accelerated Reading Program. Besides training teachers on how to implement and interpret the program’s data, she also sought parental involvement, and solicited local businesses and the School’s Parent Teacher Association for prize donations to reward the students’ accomplishments. The Accelerated Reading program has resulted in student motivation to read books and meet achievement goals. Patricia is also the founder of The International Book Bunch Club, an after school reading club which exposes students to various Newberry and Caldecott award winning books.

Patricia is extremely involved in the community. She and her students collect turkeys and trimmings during Thanksgiving and Christmas to distribute to economically deprived seven year olds in the Homestead Community. She has spent countless hours at Homestead City Council meetings speaking to elected officials about education. She is on the City of Homestead’s education committee and has lobbied in Washington, D.C. for earmarks to support initiatives in the City of Homestead. She also conducts resume writing, etiquette and public speaking classes for students and parents from the subsidized housing project where she once lived.

Patricia puts her love for teaching best, “In my opinion, a career is something that you are paid for, but a calling is something that you have been made for. My calling is definitely to teach.”

View Photo of: Commissioner Smith congratulating Patricia Fairclough, 2010 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year Finalist