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Lakeridge first-grade teacher named Mercer Island Teacher of the Year

From left, congratulating their teacher are first-graders Eliza Crenshaw, Aisling McSwiney, Taylor Libman, Sean Willet, (teacher) Cathy Dugovich, Lilly Thompson and Caroline Young. - Contributed photo
From left, congratulating their teacher are first-graders Eliza Crenshaw, Aisling McSwiney, Taylor Libman, Sean Willet, (teacher) Cathy Dugovich, Lilly Thompson and Caroline Young.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Lakeridge first-grade teacher Cathy Dugovich has been honored as Mercer Island’s Teacher of the Year. The news was announced at last Thursday’s School Board meeting before a crowd of smiling Lakeridge children, parents and administrators.

“Cathy is loved and respected by students, parents and teachers,” said Patti Weber, director of curriculum and staff development, before presenting Dugovich with her plaque.

“As one parent put it: ‘I’ve never seen anyone able to teach so well individually in a group setting,’” Weber added.

Dugovich has taught first and second grade at Lakeridge since 1988. Prior to this, she worked for the Bethel School District in Kitsap County.

Lakeridge Principal Ralph Allen said his faculty reacted with a “spontaneous eruption of joy” upon hearing the news of Dugovich’s win.

The MISD Teacher of the Year Award is granted by a district committee made up of administrators and teachers. The committee follows the same criteria that is used in selecting the Washington and national Teachers of the Year.

“What we look for is a teacher that applies professional development in the classroom and shares it with peers,” said Weber, who heads the committee.

In addition to being a devoted teacher, Dugovich has dedicated much of her career to academic development and curriculum. In 2001, she helped Lakeridge through its math adoption program, spending hours familiarizing teachers with the new material.

Afterward, Dugovich moved on to represent the literacy committee, which introduced a new reading curriculum to Lakeridge students. Most recently, the first-grade teacher spearheaded the introduction of standard-based report cards, “and she still came back for more,” said Weber.

After receiving her plaque, Dugovich thanked her “fan club,” gesturing to the handful of Lakeridge first-graders hiding behind colorful bouquets and balloons.

“Really, it’s for them,” she said. “This is why you teach.”

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