Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald presented the Lillie F. Fitzgerald Award to Victoria Pritchard, Homebound Teacher for Cleveland City Schools.
Victoria Pritchard, Winner of the 2010 Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award
“Going above and beyond” does not adequately describe the teaching style of Victoria Pritchard, the Homebound Teacher for Cleveland City Schools and the 2010-2011 recipient of the Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award.
The Award’s namesake, Lillie Frank Fitzgerald, had a distinguished teaching career in English and Speech at Bradley Central High School for 37 years. Mrs. Fitzgerald gained a community-wide reputation from her students and colleagues for her dedication and passion for teaching, instilling into each student a love of learning and a belief that academic success was possible.
During her tenure at Bradley County High School, Mrs. Fitzgerald initiated a club for future teachers and an academic honors banquet recognizing students for their academic achievement. She also developed the college preparatory English program. Nominated by several of her former students, she was inducted into the Tennessee Teachers’ Hall of Fame in 1995.
In honor of Mrs. Fitzgerald, her son and daughter-in-law, Dr. Rodney and Margo Fitzgerald, have established the annual “Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award.” This award is the highest honor at the local level to recognize and encourage teaching excellence in the classroom.
The heart of this year’s award winner clearly reflects that of Mrs. Fitzgerald’s. It is evident in Victoria Pritchard’s approach to teaching the students who cannot attend school for any number of reasons. Taking learning and teaching to the student, she teaches in a wide variety of environments such as their homes, in hospitals and any other location their circumstances find them.
“No matter where a student lives, how a student looks or smells, that child needs to know how much you care. Many of my students are from economically challenged backgrounds. One family had no heat in the home when the weather was zero degrees. So, I bought the family a heater and carried hand warmers to teach to keep from shaking while I was teaching,” said Mrs. Pritchard.
“If a teacher wants respect, the first step is to treat the student with respect. Once that respect is broken, it is difficult, if not possible, to regain it,” said Mrs. Pritchard. It became apparent through interviews with students and faculty that this teacher was more than just respected. She strives each day to have great impact in students’ lives, no matter the background or ethnicity. In doing this, she has shown everyone just how unique she is, both in teaching and in life.
Herself a continuous, eager, successful learner, she is a summa cum laude graduate from Lee University with a B.S. in Special Education, K-12, and Elementary Education, K – 8. She is a summa cum laude graduate with a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from Lincoln Memorial University through which she is continuing her studies to earn an Education Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction.
In addition to teaching students, she volunteers in the community. This includes assisting the elderly; distributing food baskets for the needy at her church, working with fundraisers for a local high school show choir, and teaching Sunday school at her church for the past 40 years.
With great honor and gratitude, we recognize Victoria Pritchard for her truly remarkable teaching approach and for her amazing commitment to the children, who because of her intervention, are embraced as they learn outside the traditional classrooms of our local schools.