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Making the Grade 

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All people are math people, according to the Winooski High School math teacher recently named 2019 Vermont Teacher of the Year. Tom Payeur received the honor from the Vermont Agency of Education in October. Beth Fraser, a mathematics teacher at Blue Mountain Union School in Wells River, was recognized as the 2019 Vermont Alternate Teacher of the Year, and Shane Heath, a science teacher at Northfield Middle & High School, was a distinguished finalist. Payeur, 30, is in his seventh year of teaching math in Winooski. "This honor is an absolute validation of the struggle to reform education with a focus on 21st-century skills, across the state of Vermont and the nation as a whole," he said. Payeur makes learning "relevant, engaging and empowering," said Winooski High School co-principal Leon Wheeler. "Grounded in research and math best practices, his vision of 'what can be' led our math team to fundamentally redesign the math program to become truly student-centered." Superintendent Sean McMannon credited Payeur with building trusting relationships with his students. "'Chill,' 'snappy dresser' and 'wicked smart' are just a few of the descriptors I have heard from Winooski High School students about Tom Payeur," McMannon said. The teacher said he gives fist bumps in the hallways and likes to match his tie with his shirt and socks. His Teacher of the Year duties will take him statewide in the coming year to visit schools and work with other teachers. He will also be Vermont's candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award. Said Payeur, "I tell my students every day that they are mathematicians, and that their ideas are amazing and worth being heard by the world."

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