Galway's 2023 Educator of the Year

Galway's 2023 Educator of the Year
Posted on 05/23/2023

Congratulations to Nancy Christiansen for being named Educator of the Year by the Galway Teacher Association. 

Ms. Nancy Christiansen has been a dedicated member of Galway Central School District for the last 12 years. She has been a special education teacher co-teacher for grades 4, 6, and 7. She has also consistently provided Response to Intervention (RTI) services at each of these levels. 

Prior to joining us here in Galway, Nancy had an extensive teaching career. Her very first teaching job was in Manhattan at the Lorge School, where she occasionally took her special education class on field trips around the city via the subway. After moving back upstate, Nancy taught at South Glens Falls for several years before she and her husband, Brian, moved to San Diego. It was there that Nancy taught in a “tough part of town” at Encanto Elementary School. After moving to another school, Schweitzer Elementary, Nancy and Brian were on the move again. This time, they moved back to this area and bought a home in Saratoga where they continue to live today. Nancy had taken some time away from teaching but only to return as a reading consultant at the private schools within the Saratoga Springs School district. It was from this position that Nancy then found her way to Galway. 

Throughout her time at Galway, Nancy has been described as a team player, a forward thinker, and a great student advocate. She works endlessly and tirelessly to support her special education students. She is CONSTANTLY reading in order to stay current in her approach and to be a reliable resource for colleagues. Nancy is always willing to take on any new program that may benefit her students in any way. She studies the program and implements it with apparent ease. She has been a pro at modifying assignments so that her students may participate in grade level curriculum at a level that’s manageable for them. This is consistently done/implemented with an undertone of mindfulness. Nancy is empathetic, energetic, a problem solver, genuine, and  – above all things – present. 

As many of you may know, Nancy was among those who attended the RULER training at Yale University. Since then, her teaching practices regularly include RULER-based terminology and practices that are shared with her students on a daily basis. Nancy is known to meet her students where they are at, both emotionally and academically, allowing them to take risks and to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. She feels strongly that learning cannot occur unless students’ emotional well-being is in a good place. This is the foundation of how she approaches every one of her students. She has made it her mission not just for her students but imparting this approach on the district as a whole, using RULER as a guide.

In addition to the RULER training, Nancy also completed co-teaching training, Sonday training, and Trauma Informed School Practices training. 

Nancy belongs to the International Literacy Association, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Capital District Writing Project. Here in Galway, she is an active member of the RULER committee and the readers group. 

In her spare time, Nancy “walks the walk” and attends to her own emotional needs. One of her main outlets is riding her horse, Tamerac. Nancy has been a lifelong lover of all things horses, and to this day, she is at the barn five days a week. If not riding, she is typically reading… and reading… and reading some more! Brian has said that she doesn’t hesitate to bring along an educational book on their beach vacations. 

Nancy also enjoys gardening, spending time with her three daughters, listening to Dave Matthews, enjoying a good glass of wine (or her favorite, limoncello, and depending on the day, a tall glass of Guiness). This summer, Nancy and Brian will be traveling to Ireland and amongst other places, will be sure to tour the Guinness brewery. 

Once retired, Nancy plans to start exercising again and maybe even start a podcast to impart all of her wisdom onto others. 

And as many of you know, this IS our last year with Nancy. After her many years of hard work and dedication to education, she has officially decided to retire. It goes without saying that her degree of investment in her students, as well as her positive attitude and ability to empathize with all, will be sincerely missed.

We couldn’t let her go before honoring her for her unique teaching practices and relationship with students. She is an inspiration to so many of us. It is for these reasons that Ms. Nancy Christiansen is receiving this well deserved, special honor. 

Receiving this honor could only be the result of the teamwork that I’ve enjoyed being part of all these years,” said Ms. Christiansen. “It reminded me of a famous quote by Kenneth H. Blanchard  “None of us is as smart as all of us.” That made me also think that none of us could give our students what they need without the efforts of all of us! I am so touched and grateful for being a part of this community of caring and dedicated people.” 

Congratulations Nancy!

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