Julie Bukowsky knew she wanted to be a teacher ever since she was little. Even in high school, she was already teaching dance to other students. Now she has been teaching for 23 years — a feat that did not go unrecognized by the students and parents of her district as she was voted the Readers’ Choice Teacher of the Month.
Many parents wrote in to nominate and rave about the great teachers in our region, but Mrs. Bukowsky’s nomination also included notes from her first grade class at St. Bridget Kildare School: “She is nice and makes me feel smart,” said Noah. “She is awesome. She’s nice and always smiles and helps us,” said Macy. “I am special to her,” said Megan.
On the best part of teaching, Mrs. Bukowsky said, “I love seeing the kids succeed.” It’s clear that Mrs. Bukowsky loves her class, and it’s also clear they love her back.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Mrs. Bukowsky is feeling the distance of being away from her students. But they still meet every day on Zoom, the popular video conference app, to have a lesson and spend some time connecting with each other. “Everyone gets a turn and we share,” she said.
“We’re trying,” she said. It was emotional for the kids to learn they won’t be returning to school after spring break. But despite the distance, Mrs. Bukowsky is working hard to make each of her students feel loved and believed in. And her goals for her students haven’t changed.
“I want them to love school, and to be ready and confident,” she said. She knows after 23 years, the impact she can have on someone’s life — it’s something she thinks about a lot, as well as how thankful she is for parents to trust her with their most prized possession.
On being the Readers’ Choice awardee, “I was surprised. I felt so blessed,” she said.
The 2019-20 school year is ending at a very different place than where it started. Through it all, teachers have been a constant source of support and inspiration for students from both inside and outside the classroom.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Teacher of the Month program wraps up after honoring 10 local educators — nominated by peers, parents and loved ones — to celebrate their achievements in the profession. This year’s honorees ranged from kindergarten to high school teachers. They taught a wide variety of subjects — from automotive to journalism, to visual arts and music. Each one inspired their students, welcomed families into the learning process and left an impression on everyone around them. Toward the end of the year, each had to quickly pivot to e-learning and did it with grace and creativity.
Each teacher has a different story to tell. Sharing their stories with the community in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and on STLtoday.com is our way of thanking these hardworking professionals. We are proud to partner with local businesses throughout the year to celebrate their dedication to teaching and their students.
If you are interested in becoming a partner on this program for the 2020-21 school year, contact Teresa Griffin at email@example.com.
To read about all of our Teacher of the Month honorees click here.