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Thomashefsky named 2014 Teacher of the Year

February 13, 2014
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Jason Thomashefsky, music teacher at Rayma C. Page Elementary School has been named 2014 Teacher of the Year by the School District of Lee County. The surprise announcement came this morning at the school.

Thomashefsky, or "Mr. T" as he is fondly called by students and staff, has been teaching music to students in grades K 5 at Rayma C. Page Elementary School for the past three years. Charged with teaching music to general education students, functional skills students and students enrolled in autism classes, Mr. T has transformed the musical experience for students at the school with his creative and innovative approach to musical education. In his classes, students use a variety of hands-on materials from rhythm instruments and recorders to bells, drums and computer-assisted technology. At the core of his curriculum is the Music Learning Theory system, a process of teaching music based on language development. He uses a mental cognitive technique called Audiation, which is the ability to hear music in your head without it being present.

In addition, Thomashefsky uses Whole Brain Teaching strategies in his lessons, having students teach each other what he teaches, which reinforces the lessons. In recognition of his efforts using the Whole Brain Teaching strategies, he has been asked by the program's creator, Chris Biffle, to be a nationwide model teacher for the organization.

Thomashefsky's dedication to musical education and appreciation for his students extends beyond the classroom walls, as he has been responsible for starting several new programs at his school. He was responsible for the creation of an after-school choir program at Rayma C. Page, the Sing-Ray Choir. This ensemble performs shows that combine complex singing in harmony, dynamic choreography and awesome instrumental accompaniments. He also started the school's first band during the fall of 2013. All 5th grade students have the opportunity to rent instruments to play for this program. He finds benefactors to pay for the instruments of students who cannot afford to rent them. This year, students in the Rayma C. Page Band have been learning to play the flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, saxophone and various percussion instruments. The band held their first performance during the holiday season.

In his spare time, Thomashefsky provides private instrument lessons to students in grades PK 7 from all over Lee County, assists the Three Oaks Middle School Band with their jazz group after school, and keeps active in professional development with various speaking events and workshops for teachers in correlation with the Whole Brain Teaching Model.

Principal Susan Caputo said, "Jason Thomashefsky is an exceptional music teacher. He is also a sincere and genuine person. He inspires students, is respected by his colleagues and admired by the parents. I can say without hesitation that he has initiated, developed and implemented an exceptional music education program at Rayma Page Mr. T arrives early, stays late and works on weekends, whether it is at Rayma Page, or at other community or District events. His sharing of ideas inspires others to try new techniques. Mr. T knows no time limits in terms of the school day and week."

The School District also recognized the five other finalists for the 2014 award: Jane Nordquist, 11th/12th grade math and AP calculus teacher at Ida S. Baker High School; Lorraine Pisano, 3rd grade gifted teacher at Gulf Elementary School; Leisha Roy, 6th-8th grade health teacher at Gulf Middle; Lori Shaw-Kaminski, 11th/12th grade IB environmental science teacher at Cape Coral HIgh School; and Molly Woodward, 10th-12th grade chemistry, AP chemistry and honors chemistry teacher at Ida S. Baker High School.

Rayma C. Page Elementary School is at 17000 S. Tamiami Trail,

Fort Myers.

Source: School District of Lee County



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