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What keeps NH teachers going: Meet Liz Duclos, 2024 teacher of the year

What keeps NH teachers going: Meet Liz Duclos, 2024 teacher of the year

By Katy Savage

December 21, 2023

Amidst a teacher shortage both locally and nationally, we’re asking New Hampshire teachers what keeps them teaching and what challenges they face in their profession. Here’s the first installment of our series.

Liz Duclos knew she wanted to be a teacher as a child. The moment hit her when she was about 6 years old and she watched her aunt, a teacher, set up her classroom one August with artwork, cozy reading spaces, and decorations. 

“I loved watching her create a warm and welcoming and caring environment for her students,” Duclos said. “And that was when I knew that that was what I wanted to do  … watching her create those opportunities for her learners and seeing her dedication made me really want to become a teacher as well.”

Duclos, who is now a third grade teacher at Pembroke Hill School, has remained in the profession for 16 years —and quickly became a classroom favorite. She was named New Hampshire’s 2024 teacher of the year in October after she was nominated by two former students.

“I got the email back in January and I thought it was spam,” Duclos said. “I read it and I was like, ‘Is this for real?’” 

Duclos was selected as New Hampshire’s top teacher from a pool of 300 applicants. A record 20 teachers were named semifinalists in New Hampshire.

Pembroke Hill School Principal Wendy Gerry praised Duclos’ insightful thinking and ability to connect with children as reasons for her recognition.  

“When you walk into her learning environment, it is evident that the students feel valued and safe to take risks in their learning,” Gerry said in a press release. “Her ability to connect with students is truly superior.”

Duclos will now be in the running for the National Teacher of the Year. 

Granite Post: How has being a teacher changed since you started?

Liz Duclos: There’s a big push in the state of New Hampshire to really focus on paying more attention to the science of reading. It’s returning to more research-based practices. I think we also are trying to ensure that we are teaching children to be deep thinkers and collaborators. And so that involves a lot more partner work, group work. It’s not simply worksheets in math, you’re working together on something.  

 

GP: What’s your favorite part of teaching?

LD: I really love making connections with students and families. I think that as a teacher, it’s my biggest job to make sure that children know that I’m in their corner, that they have someone at school that cares about them, and wants them to succeed. I also love watching children grow. It’s really incredible to see them learn and become people and make friends and see how they interact with the world. It’s just really exciting to watch children become their own people.

 

GP: Why do you think people are leaving the profession?

LD: I think there’s a lot of tough parts to education. I believe, especially with COVID, that a lot of other opportunities opened up for people because the job market has been much different. There’s opportunities for people to do other things. Curriculum changes can also be really challenging because when you’ve been doing something one way for a long time to have to change, it can be challenging. I embrace that challenge. It can be frustrating, it can be hard, but we are always growing and trying our best to succeed in what we do. 

 

GP: What keeps you teaching? 

LD: It’s the smiles on their faces. It’s the hugs. It’s just the enjoyment of watching children being together and learning together and growing. It’s those aha moments when students figure something out for the first time. Watching that and knowing that I’m making a difference is really what drives me. I always try to remind myself that I’m enough. What I’m doing for students is enough.  

 

Read more: New Hampshire teachers are quitting due to pay, politics, safety

 

Author

  • Katy Savage

    Katy Savage is an award-winning reporter with more than 10 years of experience working in daily, weekly and digital news organizations as both an editor and reporter. Katy is a New England native and has a passion for telling stories about where she grew up.

CATEGORIES: EDUCATION
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