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posted: Mon, May 11th, 2015

Meet MV’s Teacher of the Year: Peg Maute (5th Grade)

Peg Maute had it all 15 years ago. With a long career in the lighting design and sales business, she had earned her company car and expense account. She was living the very definition of what most people have for success. It wasn't necessarily hers, though.

She was always teaching or training folks in her job, especially when she worked for a division of G.E. With her friendliness and patience, teaching came naturally to her. But she really wanted to work with children.

“I just love being around kids,” she said. “And I thought I had a lot to offer, some worldly experience I could impart.”

With the enthusiastic encouragement and support of her family, Ms. Maute went on to pursue her undergraduate degree at Centenary College, first studying part time and then eventually full-time, saying a final goodbye to her career of old. She graduated (summa cum laude) with a degree in psychology and teaching certifications in elementary general education and special education. It was a moment made even more poignant when she received her diploma in blue cap and gown with her daughter-in-law Danielle, a special education teacher who was receiving her masters.

“Graduating with Danielle was surreal,” Ms. Maute said. “That Mother's Day two weeks earlier we both wrote letters to each other about how each inspired the other. Neither of us knew the other was doing it.”

Peg Maute 2.0 started working at Mountain View in 2005.

Mount Olive has a number of teachers who have come to the classroom after successful careers in other fields. They almost always become terrific, well-respected educators and Ms. Maute followed that pattern. She quickly made her mark with colleagues and students alike.

“All Peg’s students love her and many come back to the school to visit her years later,” said Laura Murdoch, Mountain View art teacher. “She’s one of the most caring and compassionate people I know, with her students, family, and friends. As a teacher she’s extremely dedicated and spends so many extra hours in school preparing her classroom and creating lessons that will make school a wonderful experience.”

The Teacher of the Year looks at each student individually and asks herself “How can I help him or her succeed? How can I help students go beyond what they think they can do?” The answers aren’t always easy. 

While growing up Ms. Maute never had that one special teacher in her life who made a huge difference in her life or made her feel “God, I want to be a teacher.” She has, however, become that very thing herself for her own students. 

“I have a letter from a boy who is in high school now,” the fifth grade teacher said. “He had a lot of difficulties. We spent a great deal of time in the hallway that year, one on one. He wrote me a letter years later. He had moved and he thanked me for our time in the hallway and said that without it, his high school experience would not have been the same positive experience that it was.”

Teachers don’t always hear those words of appreciation. But it's the hope and goal of every one of them to make an impact on the students who’ve come through their classroom doors.

“The children, that’s what keeps me going,” said Ms. Maute. “They’ve taught me and I have grown tremendously because of them. They inspire me and I want to do the best that I can for them.”

When you meet Ms. Maute and get to know her, you realize what makes her so special in the classroom. She has a genuineness, warmth, humility, and inner fortitude, but also a keen sense of humor that she often incorporates into her lessons. She has a sincere thankfulness for the types of things in her life that most all of us don’t reflect upon enough. 

“I am so very lucky to work with wonderful, supportive, caring professionals in the district but especially here at Mountain View,” she said. “So many of my colleagues have helped and encouraged me and I could never come close to expressing my gratitude to them. I am still overwhelmed with being honored as Teacher of the Year.”

Ms. Maute holds a masters in education from Walden University, with a specialization in reading and literacy. When she’s not working or tutoring students privately, she likes to stay active and just started Zumba. More than anything, though, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, especially her seven grandkids.

The newest member of her family is Kitty, a cat adopted just a few weeks ago.


Project ACES gets kids moving

They were dancing, dancing in the streets – well, really the parking lot. The entire Mountain View student body headed outside on one recent afternoon and danced in a giant exercise session. The event was part of Project ACES (All Children Exercising Simultaneously), the signature program of the Youth Fitness Coalition.

Students from all over the country and even the world exercised in large groups on this day in what has been called “the world’s largest exercise class.” Held to highlight National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and National Physical Education Week, Project ACES was created 25 years ago as a way to motivate kids to exercise.

Physical education teachers Mike Guli and Mike Schwartz coordinated the school-wide activity. During phys ed classes, the teachers taught the students a number of fun dances including the Wacky Chicken, Cha Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Cotton Eye Joe, and Tony Chestnut. When the music started, the kids were ready to go.

“Project ACES is a fun way to get children moving,” said Mr. Schwartz. “The students looked forward to this for weeks and loved being outside dancing with their friends.”

The movin’ and groovin’ lasted for about 30 minutes and took place in the parking lot opposite the school cafeteria. Mr. Guli and Mr. Schwarz led the group; student leaders at the front demonstrated the proper steps.

 “In phys ed class, one of the things that we try to teach students is that there are many different ways to stay active,” Mr. Guli said. “Exercise isn’t just sports and working out, it’s anything that gets the heart pumping and the muscles working.”

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