Amid a tangible excitement in the air for summer, two West Side Elementary School teachers were honored at an end of the year assembly for their 25 years of service as educators at the school.
On June 6 students, teachers and parents gathered in the schools’ quad to celebrate fourth grade teacher Lamiel Bjorkquist and kindergarten teacher James Greenwald for their years of hard work and continued success.
West Side Principal and West Side Union School District Superintendent Kris Menlove presented the two teachers with a silver apple award in recognition of their work.
“When you think about the type of educator that you would want for your own children, that’s who I would want,” Menlove said of the two teachers. “Not just because of the level of dedication but the attention to the child ... You couldn’t ask for two individuals that care more about kids.”
In her early years at West Side Bjorkquist started teaching second and third grade and later transitioned to fourth grade, which she has been teaching for the last 10 years.
“I actually started teaching when I was about 6, to my stuffed animals,” Bjorkquist said. “I had my chalkboard in my grandma’s mud room.”
Her grandmother and mother were both educators and while she considered nursing and got a degree in psychology she later came back to pursuing teaching.
Lamiel said the most rewarding aspect about her career is coming to work every day.
“Even a bad day teaching is a good day,” she said.
And while Bjorkquist herself struggled with math as a kid, she said it is now her favorite subject to teach.
“It was the hardest subject to learn how to teach because I struggled with it so much as a student, but it has given me a love for teaching it and watching the children go from ‘I hate math,’ to ‘Bring it on,’” Bjorkquist said.
Greenwald hand a slightly different start to teaching.
“Believe it or not, I originally wanted to be a priest because I had a second grade teacher who said she wouldn’t die until she saw my parish, so I started doing coaching as a service when I was in junior high,” Greenwald said.
He added that his mom and many of his family were teachers.
“So that evolved into me wanting to become a teacher,” he said.
He has been teaching kindergarten the entire 25 years.”
Greenwald said the most rewarding aspect of his job is watching his students come to greater understandings.
“Watching them grow is very rewarding. It’s more of just when a child looks up to you and says, ‘I know how to read now’ or ‘I know how to add,’ and they just have this sparkle in their eye and it’s just an amazing feeling to be a part of that,” he said.
His favorite subject is language arts because he enjoys reading to children and teaching language art fundamentals, such as learning how to write the ABCs.
So how long does the duo want to keep teaching? They both said as long as they can and as long as they love it.
During the assembly event, teacher Heidi Rochford was also honored for her work.
Rochford received the Rotary Teacher Award for being an outstanding teacher and was presented with a proclamation from the city from Mayor David Hagele.