Linda Bergh named Wisconsin Special Services Teacher of the Year

Linda Bergh to receive $3,000 from Herb Kohl Educational Foundation

State Superintendent Tony Evers and Eagle Point School Counselor Linda Bergh

In a surprise ceremony at her school, Linda Bergh, a school counselor at Eagle Point Elementary School in DeForest, was named Wisconsin’s Special Services Teacher of the Year for the 2012-13 school year.

State Superintendent Tony Evers made the announcement during an all-school assembly. As part of the  Teacher of the Year honor, Bergh will receive $3,000 from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.

“The quality of the educators in our schools is vital to student success,” Evers said. “Teachers who receive this award are recognized by their peers, students, and parents as caring, committed educators. They represent quality educators who make a difference every day for our students.”

“The Teacher of the Year program recognizes educators who strive to help every student succeed,” said  U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, who co-sponsors the program through his educational foundation. “Not only are these educators active in their classrooms and schools, they work to improve the profession and contribute to their communities.”

Bergh’s educational philosophy is rooted in her beliefs that “Children will learn in an environment that provides positive relationships, safety, acceptance, and differentiated instruction; and the success of our students, or lack of, is everyone’s responsibility.” Her work with students focuses on building relationships that promote inclusion, accepting differences, and fostering a sense of belonging. Bergh has developed and incorporated several programs that have yielded a high level of student as well as parent and community participation. The “Hands and Words are Not for Hurting Project” (also known as the Hands Pledge) is a non-violence and anti-bullying initiative Bergh brought to Eagle Point several years ago. Students, families, and community members take a pledge to end violence of all types. The success of this program at Eagle Point has spread districtwide and even to some neighboring districts.

Bergh has also found great success with other programs, including Playground Pals, a friendship building initiative where students volunteer to seek out other students who may be playing alone or having problems socializing at recess; Kindergarten Family-School Connections, an effort to bring families of kindergarten students into the school for social events to help build school to home connections in the infancy of students’ school careers; and even the use of a therapy dog to help students struggling with interpersonal relationships.

 Mary Ann McBride, a fellow school counselor from the McFarland School District who has worked in the profession with Bergh for many years, says “Linda’s contributions have brought the school and community together and are programs students look forward to. They are Eagle Point School traditions. Traditions help young people develop a sense of belonging and belonging is the powerful connection that keeps young people focused on their positive and rewarding future.”

Bergh’s principal, Ann Schoenberger, shares similar sentiments. Schoenberger has been very impressed with Bergh’s mentoring program for at-risk students. “Knowing that many at-risk families have limited traditions, Linda plans activities to give these students experiences such as decorating pumpkins, making ornaments, creating valentines, and decorating gift bags for Meals on Wheels.”

In addition to Bergh’s commitment to her students, she is also committed to her community. She makes frequent visits to an assisted living and memory care facility with her therapy dog, Polo. She has served as a foster parent for numerous children, and she serves as a mental health services volunteer through the American Red Cross.She spent three weeks working in Louisiana immediately following Hurricane Katrina.

Bergh sees many positive aspects in education today. “We no longer think in a ‘one size fits all’ framework. By providing a multi-level system of support for students through quality differentiated instruction and progress monitoring, plus collaboration between teachers and parents, we are truly setting up students for success.”

Bergh holds a bachelor of science degree in behavioral disabilities and a master of science in education for counseling psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She began her career as a special education teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District and has been at Eagle Point Elementary School in DeForest since 1997. Evers will recognize Bergh as the Wisconsin Special Services Teacher of the Year during his State of Education address Sept. 20 in Madison.

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