Excellence: Foundation Honors Inaugural Group of ‘Outstanding’ Belmont Teachers

Photo: Belmont High Biology teacher Suzanne Lijek named one of “Outstanding Teacher of the Year.”

Suzanne Lijek had no idea why Principal Dan Richards had called her down to the main office for a “meeting.” 

The AP Biology teacher at Belmont High School was preparing for the day’s classes when when she headed to the offices at 9 a.m. on April 15. 

It was only when she was ushered into the guidance room did she suspect that something was amiss.

Inside were many of her students, colleagues, Superintendent John Phelan and members of the Foundation for Belmont Education along with flowers, balloons and a certificate.

After a few seconds of being surprised, Lijek was informed by FBE President Jamie Shea she was the very first honoree of the foundation’s “Belmont’s Outstanding Teachers of the Year” award. 

The six honorees, from each of Belmont’s public schools, were recognized for their excellence in the classroom and for consistently making a difference in the lives of Belmont’s children. Recipients were nominated by students, parents and community members. 

“Teachers don’t receive the recognition they deserve in many places in the country, so this is a great opportunity for Belmont to tell them how important they are,” Phelan told Lijek and those assembled.

Shea noted that Lijek was the very first recipient of the award that the FBE hopes to make an annual event.

“I’m happy to receive this award because it validates the work all teachers do,” Lijek told the Belmontonian. 

In addition to Lijek, the 2015 honorees – all who were told in person at their schools – are: 

  • Katharine Caritey, Burbank Elementary, Grade 2 
  • Audrey Ruddock, Butler Elementary, Kindergarten 
  • Steven Tenhor, Wellington Elementary, Grade 4 
  • Danielle Pandolfo, Winn Brook Elementary, Grade 3 
  • Ben Ligon, Chenery Middle School, Grade 6 (Math) 

The ceremony to honor Belmont’s Outstanding Teachers of the Year award winners will be held on April 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School. The award celebration, sponsored by Belmont Savings Bank, is open to the public. 

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