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Teri Dary is Wisconsin’s Christa McAuliffe Fellowship Winner

Therese “Teri” Dary of Waupun, a teacher at Beaver Dam’s Jefferson Elementary School, has been named the recipient of the 2000 Christa McAuliffe Fellowship in recognition of her efforts to strengthen the relationship between schools and communities.

Teri Dary and her students

Dary will take a sabbatical from her duties as a Grades 3-4 classroom teacher to promote the “Do Something” program across Wisconsin. Her contract will be paid through a grant from the Council of Chief State School Officers, which manages the fellowship program.

The fellowship is named in honor of teacher and astronaut Christa McAuliffe, who died in the explosion of the shuttle Challenger in 1986. A statewide panel selects award recipients based on teaching experience, recommendations, and a proposal for school improvement.

In a telephone conversation, State Superintendent John T. Benson congratulated Dary on her selection. He said that all Wisconsin residents need to acknowledge the important role of teachers and recognize their impact on the lives of children.

“Christa McAuliffe said it best,” according to Benson, “when she described her own career by saying, ‘I touch the future. I teach.’ ”

Dary’s proposal, “Do Something: Schools, Children, and Communities,” stressed her belief in the need for a standards-based citizenship curriculum that will produce students who take an active role in keeping their communities safe, peaceful, and productive. The goal, Dary said in her application, “is to empower students to create strong and healthy communities… .”

In hearing about the fellowship award, Dary expressed a great deal of thanks to administration and staff in the Beaver Dam School District for all of their help and support in implementing the “Do Something League” in the district.

Prior to her current appointment, Dary taught emotionally disturbed and learning disabled students for 10 years. During the last eight years at Jefferson Elementary School, she has variously served as a trainer for the school’s peer-mediation program, acted as co-adviser for the student council, and mentored beginning teachers.

Her Beaver Dam co-workers selected Dary as Elementary School Teacher of the Year in 1998-99. In support of her candidacy, Beaver Dam School District administrator noted, “Teri has a rich background of active involvement and commitment to her students, school, and community.”

Wisconsin’s proposal for the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship program is unique in connecting fellowship activities with the state’s citizenship initiatives resulting in safe schools.

What is the Do Something League?

Do Something is a network of young people making a difference in their communities. Do Something has found a way to reach young people and make a meaningfully positive impact in their lives.

Through Do Something programs, young people develop, own, and execute community building projects that help them measurably develop strong character, belief in themselves, and regular and impactful involvement in their communities.

Do Something recruits and trains educators called Community Coaches who guide and support young people as they work to improve their lives, schools, and neighborhoods. Do Something supports the efforts of the Community Coaches with innovative curricula, online and offline connections and networks, and recognition and incentives.

Founded on the belief that students learn best by doing, the Do Something League offers a simple structure through which young people of all ages and backgrounds can develop leadership skills which they can immediately apply to the real world through an established, year-round calendar of community projects and events.

The curriculum is made up of lessons and activities centered around topics such as strategic planning, public speaking, constructive criticism, time management, tolerance, and much more. The lessons are conveniently divided into age-appropriate learning groups (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12).

Because the Do Something League connects students and teachers with community leaders and community institutions, students learn how every project – even every action – contributes to a larger movement of community building within their school, in their community, and across the nation.

Next fall, the Do Something League will be holding a state-wide training for teachers in Wisconsin who would like to become trained community coaches. For more information, contact Teri Dary, Jefferson School, Beaver Dam, WI 53916, (920) 885-7392, or visit the Web site at

Posted May 16, 2000


Education News