Vermont Teacher of Year Aziza Malik was among the honorees at the 2024 Outstanding Educators Day held at the University of Vermont’s Dudley H. Davis Center on Nov. 14.
A fifth grade teacher at Champlain Elementary School in Burlington, Malik is known for partnering with community members and local institutions to connect her curriculum to the real world. Her teaching helps students to engage with the local Indigenous population. She has also worked to revitalize the school’s community garden.
A graduate of UVM’s Leadership for Sustainability master’s degree program, Malik is also a current member of the Education for Sustainability Leadership Academy at Shelburne Farms in partnership with UVM.
“I want every single student to feel like they belong,” said Malik in a recent interview with Vermont Public. “I have been working to create those moments where we feel like we belong and we’re proud to share who we are. If we don’t have that, we don’t have anything.”
Hosted by the UVM’s College of Education and Social Services (CESS) and the Vermont Agency of Education, Outstanding Educators Day honored 84 educators from school districts and supervisory unions across the state as well as Vermont’s incoming and outgoing Teacher of the Year.
2023 Vermont Teacher of the Year Robyn Newton provided an inspiring and interactive keynote address to the honorees and assembled guests. “If you elevate teachers, you elevate learning,” said the Vergennes Elementary School Physical Education Teacher. “I am humbled to have represented you this year on my Teacher of the Year journey.”
Newton, a 1995 graduate of UVM, spoke about the importance of bringing joy to the classroom. “Without joy we can’t learn. Without joy we can’t find a purpose. Without joy we are just flat out boring. When all else seems to be failing, remember why we teach; it’s for the joy of learning, for the joy on our students’ faces, it’s for the joy of having fun and smiling and laughing.”
For more than four decades, UVM has hosted the annual ceremonial event recognizing outstanding educators from school districts and supervisory unions throughout the state.