Joan Wilson was recently nominated for a 2006 Disney Teacher of the Year Award, which is presented to a teacher who exemplifies creativity in teaching. A Fairfax Station resident, she has taught at Orange Hunt Elementary for 31 years, and she is this week's People Profile.
Years in the community: With the exception of college, I have lived my entire life in Northern Virginia. My parents moved to Springfield in the late 1950s, so I grew up in Fairfax County. I remember when the first traffic light was installed in Springfield and when milk was actually delivered to our house in bottles!
Family: My husband, Bob, and I have been married 31 years. We have two daughters: Carol, who is married, and Kristi, who is a college senior.
Education: I attended first through 12th grades in Fairfax County, graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School. I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in education and English from Purdue University in Indiana.
Current job: Currently, I am a fifth grade teacher in the German Immersion program at Orange Hunt Elementary. I teach language arts and social studies to 48 students. For the first 27 years of my teaching career, I taught grades one through three.
Achievements: I think of achievement as being divided into personal and professional achievements. My greatest personal achievement, in conjunction with my husband, is the raising of two wonderful daughters. Professionally, I am grateful to have been nominated, in 1990, for Fairfax County Teacher of the Year. This fall, I received word that a former student had nominated me for the 2006 Disney Teacher Award. Because this honor comes from a former student, I feel that it is the highest compliment I can receive. I treasure all of the students with whom I've worked and nothing makes me happier than to hear from them that education has made a difference in their lives.
Activities/interests/hobbies: I love to read! I always have a stack of books, magazines and professional journals to read. I play the piano and clarinet, so I usually practice when no one is home (to spare them the misery of missed notes). My husband and I spend many weekends at Lake Anna where we boat, fish and relax.
Favorite local restaurant: Just about any restaurant is my favorite because I'm not fond of cooking. We enjoy a variety of cuisines, so eating out and trying new restaurants is one of our favorite things to do as a couple.
Community concerns: Like most people in this area, I am concerned about traffic, because each year it seems to get worse. I think we need to encourage carpooling and expand mass transit, although I realize that does not work for everyone. Another concern I have is our hectic pace of life and the pressure we put on ourselves and our children. We all need to just slow down and appreciate the beauty of each day and the time we have with the people we love.
What brought you here? This area has so much to offer. We are close to Washington, D.C. and some of the best museums in the world. We have a highly educated population that values learning and knowledge. We have churches, parks, recreation centers, libraries and organizations for every interest. What I like best, though, is the people I meet in this area. Many people who live here have traveled all over the world. Some speak several languages and have amazing stories to tell.
Community hidden treasure: The hidden treasures I would like people to know about are found in our local high schools. They are the band, chorus and drama performances put on by our talented high school students. Most of these groups have several performances a year and the prices are so reasonable! Some are even free. They are the perfect evening out for families and senior citizens alike.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you "grew up?" I have always wanted to be a teacher. I wrote an essay for a seventh grade assignment stating that I wanted to work with children and make a difference in the world. I still feel that way — my heart is truly in the classroom with the children.
Where do you see yourself in five years? This question became a bit easier in September with the birth of our first grandchild, Anna Kate. I want to be the best grandmother possible! My grandparents played an important role in my life, cheering me on and providing unconditional love and support. I want to do the same thing for Anna Kate and any future grandchildren.
Personal goals: My personal goals are to remain a life-long learner and to be of service to others. There are so many interesting things to learn in this world and we have many opportunities in this area to take courses, attend lectures, use the Internet, and talk to a diverse group of people. As for service, as a seasoned teacher, I would like to encourage young people to become teachers and serve our nation by training its future citizens. I am proud to have taught at Orange Hunt Elementary for 31 years and I would like to say "Thank you" to the community for allowing me to serve them by teaching their children.
Do you know someone who should be featured in the Connection's People Profile? Send your nominations to Jon Whiten at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-917-6422.