Cane Bay’s Dalpiaz wins teacher of the year

  • Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shelley Dalpiaz prepares her classroom for the first day of school. MICHAEL QUIRK/INDEPENDENT

Cane Bay High School Algebra teacher Shelley Dalpiaz has been recognized as American Board National Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013.
The award is given to an alum of the American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence who “exemplifies the organization’s belief that the inspiration to teach comes from a commitment to the community and the desire to make a difference.”
Dalpiaz was voted the South Carolina Teacher of the Year in March.
The national round was based on essays and phone interviews. After impressing the board she received a call from ABCTE chief of staff Cathleen Healy telling her that she had won.
Dalpiaz was born in Aruba and moved to the United States when she was 17 to attend Weber State University in Utah.
“I wanted to see snow,” she said with a laugh. “Everyone in Utah would tell me I was crazy.”
After graduation she worked in a lab at the University of Utah testing tubes of blood for tuberculosis.
In 1998 Dalpiaz moved to South Carolina to follow her husband’s job as an electrician in the Air Force. The couple has a 16-year-old daughter Racheal and a 14-year-old son David, whom she was pregnant with at the time of the move.
She began volunteering at Harvest Baptist Church, and enrolled online at Walden University. After earning a masters degree in mathematics, she earned her certification through the ABCTE.
In 2010 she began teaching Algebra II at Cane Bay.
“Nomally we hire traditionally certified teachers but Shelley was just too good to pass up,” said Cane Bay principal Lee Westberry who nominated Dalpiaz for the award in January.
Fellow math teacher Regina Owens started at Cane Bay the same year as Dalpiaz and has taught Algebra II in the adjacent classroom.
“I was pregnant and needed bed rest,” Owens said referring to her first year at CBHS. “Shelley and the other math teachers were so great helping out with my classes and helping at home.”
Westberry and Owens each harped on Dalpiaz’s rapport with her students as a quality that makes her a special teacher. Dailpiaz said that relating to the students is critical when teaching.
“You have to try to get to know them so you can relate to them,” she said. “If they like you they’ll work for you, if not, forget it.”
Dalpiaz offers tutoring sessions during lunch, before class and after. The block schedule offers 90-minute classes that she breaks up by lecturing for the first 20 minutes then breaking into small groups.
The students play games on the smart board including Jeopardy and “Kooshball”. She has a one-on-one desk in the back of the class for students who need additional help.
The personal goals change day-by-day for Dalpiaz, but one common theme continues.
“I just love seeing it in their eyes,” she said. “The look is like ‘Thank God!’ and you know that they get it.”
Dalpiaz praised the leadership of the principal, the help of the math department and even the detailed work of the custodial crew as attributes that make her job easier.
Westberry echoed the statements.
“She’s fabulous and she makes it easy on me because she’s a team player and willing to learn,” said Westberry. “I wish I had a school of them.”

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