In kind (ness)

​Photo by Kevin McCarthy

Jordan Siragusa is one of a kind (ness). The Montclaire Elementary teacher's motto, "Be Kind," and her dedication to her students earned her a spotlight appearance on the "Ellen" TV show in January. To mark the event, the school held a Celebration of Kindness March 6 where Siragusa shared her experience, as well as the gifts she received.

Siragusa was invited to the show's taping after her husband, Sonny Siragusa, wrote to show host Ellen DeGeneres about his wife's devotion to her students and to DeGeneres, her favorite celebrity, whom she had been trying to see for 10 years. Siragusa had just taken a midyear position at Montclaire – she had left a year earlier to join her husband in Virginia, where he is in business school and will finish in May.

DeGeneres brought Siragusa onstage to talk about Montclaire, her students and her love of teaching. She received T-shirts imprinted with her motto for her first-grade class, along with a full scholarship for a master's degree and $10,000 for expenses from Western Governors University.

"It was a dream come true," Siragusa said.

3.8.18.Ellen.Siragusa_inside pic.jpgSiragusa distributed the T-shirts at the school celebration and announced that she will match up to $5,000 of the money she received to give to Montclaire. Donations are being collected at her page on youcaring.com and WGU North Carolina Chancellor Catherine Truitt surprised her with a $1,000 donation to the fund.

"My husband and I just want to give back," Siragusa said. "The kids are everything and they deserve the best education possible. I'm their teacher but they teach me."

Siragusa struggled with dyslexia when she was in school. She said the reason she became a teacher was to let students know that everyone is going to face something but they are all capable. She said one of her teaching inspirations was Dr. Matt Hayes, North Learning Community superintendent, who taught her in sixth grade and attended the celebration.

"I had a lot of new challenges in middle school with bigger class sizes and learning how to study the right way," Siragusa said. "We were looking at alternatives and he was definitely the teacher who made me feel that I could stay there and be successful. I was just lucky to have him and get what I needed."