INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time, two educators are being recognized as Indianapolis Public Schools' Teacher of the Year.
Paige Sjoerdsma of Butler Lab School 55 and DaMeisha Fleming of James Whitcomb Riley School 43 were honored by the district on Friday. IPS said this is the first time it named two winners for the award —one in the elementary school category and a second for secondary school teachers.
Fleming has been a first-grade teacher at School 43 for the past five years. She has also taught fourth and fifth grades during her teaching career.
IPS said Fleming coaches several sports, tutors and holds a number of leadership positions at the school. She is also in graduate school at IUPUI, studying urban education.
Sjoerdsma, a Butler University graduate, is a middle school English language arts teacher, who previously taught kindergarten through third grade. She also holds a master's degree in public school building leadership from the Teachers College Columbia University.
She is a founding member of the IPS/Butler Lab School's Racial Equity Team.
The teachers were surprised with the announcement that they had won Teacher of the Year honors at a ceremony with administrators, staff and students.
"Sjoerdsma and Fleming represent the district's best in effective teaching, excellent instruction, and outstanding accomplishments in the class," said IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson.
Principals nominated the top teachers at each IPS school for Teacher of the Year honors. A committee of the teachers' peers selected the winners.
The teachers received flowers and a group gourmet chocolate tasting experience in recognition of their award.