Like many of her colleagues, fourth-grade teacher Liliya Petrovskaya sometimes has to scrounge for classroom supplies.
At Tacoma’s Manitou Park Elementary School, she’s famous for her “word wall,” on which students post sticky notes with challenging words in a quest to become “word wizards.” The kids are so enthusiastic, she sometimes runs out of the notes.
On Friday, the last day of school in Tacoma, Petrovskaya was rewarded for her hard work with a check that could buy her a hefty supply of sticky notes.
Before an all-school assembly, she was surprised with the Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants Teacher of the Year award, which comes with a $500 check for classroom supplies. She was chosen from among 400 Washington teachers nominated by their students.
“I love my job,” Petrovskaya said in accepting the award. “I love my students. I want to do my job the best I can for them and for the community, for the future.”
Manitou Park Principal Mary Wilson describes Petrovskaya, who has been teaching for just over two years, as a teacher who is “dedicated and compassionate.”
Friday was the last day of school for Tacoma, Clover Park and other surrounding school districts. Others, including Puyallup, Peninsula and Sumner, are in session through part of next week.
One of the restaurant chain’s trademark dancing clams accompanied Ivar’s marketing manager Jim Worth to Friday’s presentation at the school.
Worth read from an essay by 10-year-old Amy Hardesty, one of Petrovskaya’s students.
“The way she teaches my class makes me want to be a teacher,” Amy wrote. “She makes learning really fun.”
The teacher’s wizardry is noticed by plenty of adults, too.
“She takes her job seriously,” said Wilson, principal of the South Tacoma school. “She has high expectations, but doesn’t lower her standards. She has an understanding of the difficulties her kids go through, because she has gone through them herself.”
Petrovskaya is an emigrant from Ukraine who came to Tacoma at age 10. She identifies with students trying to master English. This year, eight of her 24 students were English language learners.
“I really do try to inspire them,” she said. “I want to make education a pleasant journey, and not a journey of struggles. It’s a journey for me, too.”