Joanne Deignan Named Teacher of the Year

As the Middletown High School South Teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year was announced, the shouting and applause that immediately erupted is demonstrative of the love and appreciation seen by the MHSS staff and students for mathematics teacher Joanne Deignan.


Teacher of the Year Joanne Deignan

There is a great deal of admiration for mathematics teacher Joanne Deignan here at Middletown High School South–so much so that she has been named Teacher of the Year. “I have had Mrs. Deignan for two years and everyday I go into class excited to learn. She makes lessons fun and easy to understand, as well as going out of her way to ensure her students understand what is being taught,” says senior Kate Aharrah. who expresses her gratitude for all that Deignan does. “She has also been an extremely knowledgeable and supportive resource for everything relating to college, which has been a tremendous help.” It is indisputable that Deignan works extremely hard to make sure that she provides a safe learning environment where students are excited to learn and want to participate; she is always coming up with new and fun ways to complete lessons. The mathematics teacher notes the ways that she keeps her students motivated and engaged: “I incorporate many different activities and games that address different learning styles. Some of the games we play are Kahoot!, Socrative Rocket Ship, Jeopardy, Desmos Card Sort, Grudgeball, Quizlet Live, Zap!, Quizizz etc… My favorite prize to give as an extrinsic reward is scented stickers-always a hit!” Deignan prioritizes building relationships with her students both in and out of the classroom. She makes it known that she is available for more than just Calculus extra help and always shows up to support her students; whether it be a sporting event, theater performance, or National Honor Society induction, Deignan will be there cheering her students on.“I believe one of my strengths is that I have an excellent rapport with my students,” Deignan responded when asked about what she believes to be personal strengths that have helped her become a successful teacher, “I create a safe learning environment where students know I am there to help them and it’s ok to make mistakes in my classroom. Also, by attending many South events after school, students see me as more than just a teacher. I love to see my students playing sports, playing an instrument, performing on stage, at the art show, at prom, etc… Finally, I never stop learning. I believe there is always room for improvement.” Many students find Deignan’s class to be both a fun and academically stimulating environment that they looked forward to going to; AP Calculus student Victoria DiMeo explains, “During my junior year, I had Mrs. Deignan for Precalculus Honors. Her class was easily one of the best classes that I have been in at South. Mrs. Deignan always put a lot of thought into her lessons, making them both fun and enriching for students. I always looked forward to going to her class!” Senior Kate Kunz agrees, “I truly believe that a teacher can make or break someone’s experience in a class. Having Mrs. Deignan as a teacher made math simpler and I found myself looking forward to her class.”

Deignan described the time in her life when she decided to become an educator, “I decided to become a math teacher when I was in college and helped my classmates with their Calculus homework. They said that I made it easy for them to understand! I loved that I was able to help.”Deignan additionally detailed the qualities she admired in a teacher growing up: “When I was in high school, I always admired my teachers who talked to the class about every day topics, not just the subject matter. They shared about their lives, took an interest in ours, and listened to us. I try to emulate one of my math teachers, Miss Marino. Her wit and humor in the classroom, as well as often offering praise and commendations were so appreciated. She actually called my house to congratulate me on getting a 100% on the Regents Exam!” It is clear that Mrs. Deignan has done an incredible job: providing a strong learning environment, building relationships with her students, and has ultimately contributed so much to the school, making her more than deserving of the Teacher of the Year award. Deignan’s impact is clearly visible in the gratitude expressed by the staff and students of Middletown High School South.