GFS Special Ed Teacher Peg Tappan Named Teacher of the Year

 GFS Special Ed Teacher Peg Tappan Named Teacher of the Year

Katie Settos, A&E Editor

Not many people can say they love waking up as much as Peg Tappan can.

Droopy-eyed and teetering on unconsciousness, the vast majority of people do not look especially forward to attending work in the morning. They view their job as an obligation, not necessarily an enjoyment.

However, Tappan, a Greens Farm Elementary School special education teacher, considers herself to be a part of the ‘lucky few’ whose job is her passion.

“People will say to me, ‘You’ve been doing this for 39 years, don’t you want to be retiring?’ and I look at them and say, ‘I love what I do,’” said Tappan. “I want to keep that passion burning.”

Tappan knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was in the second grade. Yet it was not until she meet a boy who had been bullied due to his special needs that she decided to pursue special education, making it her mission to open up new windows for children who face learning disabilities.

“By the time children have come into special education, they’ve faced adversity,” said Tappan. “I want them to learn…you’re gonna have those bumps in the road, but you’ll be stronger because of them.”

Incredibly dedicated to the success of her students, Tappan has been awarded ‘Teacher of the Year’ by the Westport School District, an honor which she describes to be very “humbling.”

John Bayers, principal of Greens Farm Elementary School, raved about Tappan’s persistence in helping her students achieve and surpass their goals.

“Ms. Tappan is an amazing teacher who cares deeply about the learning experiences of her students. [Her] unwavering commitment to the students will benefit them for years to come, and she serves as a role model for everyone,” said Bayers.

Warm and radiant, Tappan is recognized among the staff for her remarkable energy and sense of spirit as well as her motherly approach.

She works to  build concrete relationships not only with her students, but also with the parents of her students—a philosophy to which she attributes part of her success as a teacher.

Interaction with parents, Tappan explains, is vital, especially in special education, because parents need guidance in understanding what is best for their children. The labyrinth of information on learning alternatives and techniques can be quite overwhelming, she says.

While Tappan derives great satisfaction from watching her students progress, she is ‘never bored.’ The continual publications of neurological research motivate her to keep abreast of current approaches to special education and the excitement of cutting-edge technology encourages her to work closely with the younger generation of special education professionals.

Even after teaching for 39 years, Tappan is still striving to improve herself and learn how she can grow as a teacher.

“I try to find the right key to fit the lock for my students, to open up the door so where they thought they could never succeed, they become successful,” said Tappan. “I [wanna] watch these kids fly.”