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Posted: 01/16/13

VFW TEACHER OF THE YEAR. Above, Romeo High School instructor Bridget Kowalke was named grades 9-12 teacher of the year by the Dist. 5 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). She was nominated by senior Kelly Jones, one of her students. From left, Jones, VFW Post 2052 Men's Auxiliary President Ron Moskow, Kowalke, VFW Commander Leonard Monfils and VFW Ladies Auxiliary Scholarship Committee Chairperson Karen Rasey.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

VFW names Kowalke
teacher of the year

Observer Staff Writer
      Local veterans and a student have recognized a Romeo High School teacher as one of the best in the area.
       Romeo High School instructor Bridget Kowalke was named the 2012-13 Teacher of the Year by the Dist. 5 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) on Jan. 6.
       The VFW recognizes a teacher in grades K-5, 6-7 and 9-12 in an annual contest. Applicants must submit a letter explaining in 350 words or less why they feel their candidate is deserving of the title.
       In this case, Kowalke, an English/literature instructor at Romeo High School, was nominated by Kelly Jones, a senior at Romeo High School, through the VFW Post #2052 in Bruce Township.
       Jones said she has had Kowalke as a teacher for a year and a half, and was both surprised and grateful that she was chosen due to her nomination.
       "She doesn't just do what she needs to do to get the job done," Jones said. "I love her class, and I felt she deserved to be nominated."
       In her letter, Jones stressed the importance of teachers, saying their passion and ability to connect to today's youth make them a true asset in society.
       "These educators aren't millionaires or royalty, but deserve to be treated so," she wrote.
       Specifically, Jones said she has been inspired by Kowalke's "innovative teaching methods" and for being friendly and approachable.
       She said Kowalke is dedicated to her country as well, recounting a classroom session when she and her peers asked about the events of Sept. 11 and how Kowalke described them.
       "For 15 minutes chills were felt throughout the room as she described that day," she wrote.
       Kowalke said she was just as surprised as Jones to have been nominated and selected, and expressed her gratitude for Jones' gesture.
       "She could've written about any of her teachers and she chose to write about me, so that was quite an honor," Kowalke said. "She is a very good writer. I am proud of her."
       Karen Rasey, chair of the scholarship committee for the local Ladies Auxiliary, said around 20-plus VFW posts are in Dist. 5, and Kowalke came in first for the grades 9-12 category.
       Kowalke received a cash prize for earning the title, which she said she will likely use to purchase something for the classroom.

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