Atlanta, Cincinnati teachers win $20,000 award at WFU

By Maggie Barrett
November 14, 2005

Christy Vico of Atlanta and Sean Cooney of Cincinnati are the two recipients of the 2005 Marcellus E. Waddill Excellence in Teaching Award at Wake Forest University.

Vico and Cooney each received the $20,000 award during a ceremony at Wake Forest Oct. 22.

Wake Forest annually presents the Waddill award to alumni who are outstanding teachers. One secondary and one primary school teacher are chosen each year.

Vico, a kindergarten teacher in Atlanta, was recognized on the primary level. She graduated from Wake Forest in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in health and exercise science. She has taught at Garden Hills Elementary School in Atlanta since 1996.

Vico teaches students from a wide variety of backgrounds, including a large number of Hispanic students. Vico learned to speak Spanish and has spent the past three summers traveling abroad to learn about the cultures of the Spanish-speaking countries from which many of her students and their families come.

Colleagues and parents praised Vico for her ability to fully grasp the impact a student's home life has on their emotional and educational well-being.

Cooney, a high school teacher in Cincinnati, was recognized on the secondary level. He graduated from Wake Forest with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1993 and earned a Master of Arts in education degree from Wake Forest in 1998. Cooney has taught English at Colerain High School in Cincinnati for the past eight years.

Colleagues and parents praised Cooney for his initiative and leadership skills at Colerain High School. He developed a journalism class whose students produce the school's news magazine. Cooney serves on the school's staff development team and achieved National Board certification in 2002.

David Waddill of Rye, N.Y., established the award in 1994 to honor his father, Marcellus E. Waddill of Winston-Salem, who retired in 1997 after teaching mathematics at Wake Forest for 35 years.

Forty-two teachers from across the country competed for this year's award. Nominees for the award must submit lesson plans, letters of recommendation, and essays. Finalists are interviewed, and submit a videotape of their teaching techniques.