Updated 10/11/2012 12:22 PM
Webster Thomas' Greg Ahlquist Named State Teacher of the Year
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It is a question that's open to interpretation.
What is it that makes a great teacher?
"The great teacher is the teacher who takes it from just teaching the material to teaching things that help you in life and help you as a person,” said Doug Pagani, senior at Webster Thomas.
"I think a great teacher is somebody who makes the student care about what they're learning,” said Brenna Mason, senior.
At Webster Thomas High School, there's one teacher in particular who answers the question.
"You definitely get different teaching styles for each teacher,” said Doug.
His students say social studies teacher Greg Ahlquist doesn't just teach them. He challenges them. To be better.
“His energy is so empowering and his message is so empowering, that's what you focus on, and the work comes later," Brenna said.
On Thursday, the school gathered to celebrate Mr. Ahlquist's high honor. The top honor, actually.
New York's top teacher. An honor accepted, humbly.
"I can issue nothing but my deepest gratitude. It is your love and support for me every day that makes this possible, so I'm grateful,” Ahlquist said to a room full of applause.
"It's an amazing honor, and it's an honor he deserves. He puts so much time into his lesson plans and he cares so much about the students,” Brenna said.
"I think it's great that Ahlquist is getting the honor. One, because he works really hard as a teacher,” Doug said. "And second of all, I think it's great that he's going to tour and teach other teachers."
Ahlquist has taught at Webster since 2000. He says the best part of his job is guiding students from where they are to what they can become.
"My message is one that will probably just return all of us to the core of why we entered the profession, and hopefully will capture some inspiration,” Ahlquist said.
What might make the award even more special, the fact that Ahlquist sat in the same classrooms he now teaches in. He's a Webster Thomas graduate. Class of 1991.
With the honor of Teacher of the Year comes responsibility. Act as ambassador for all education in New York. It’s a message Ahlquist will spread gladly.
"Students don't care what you know, until they know you care. That's the art of teaching."