Girard receives national recognition as educator

Girard receives national recognition as educator
It is not every day that you find someone as devoted to their job as special education teacher Laurie Girard – that is to say, award-winning teacher Laurie Girard.

In late October, Girard became one of six teachers in the nation to be recognized by the Council for Learning Disabilities as an outstanding educator. She was nominated by two of her former college professors and traveled to Washington, DC with her husband to accept this award.

Girard had a rather interesting childhood, growing up nowhere near Vermillion. She was born in Delaware, where she lived until she was 10 years old. Her family then moved to Australia for about six years. While there, she lived in a suburb of Sydney called Darlingpoint and then moved to Rockhampton in Queensland for a few years. Of Rockhampton, Girard comments that it was "a great place to live, a great place to grow up." She also said that, that place in particular was very interesting.

As it so happens, the line of the Tropic of Capricorn runs straight through the town – a very hot location. It was a necessity to wear hats to aid in keeping cool.

After living abroad, her family moved back to the United States and landed in Spearfish, where she graduated from high school.

For college, she attended USD for studio art. However, Girard soon realized that it would be difficult to find a job in that field; she decided to go back to school for teaching art.

She taught art for three years before realizing that her true passion was in teaching special education. Girard realized this while she was an art teacher. It was very rewarding for her to work with the kids with special needs. She thus decided to get her master's degree in special education. To pursue that, she once again returned to USD.

Before becoming a special education and resource room teacher at VHS, Girard taught art in Lake Preston along with special education in Kimball, Bell Fouche and Graceville, MN.

Her classroom goal is to help students to succeed in their classrooms, graduate from high school and to prepare them for life after graduation, whatever that may be. She is considered an outstanding teacher by many of her peers and a main reason may be that she can directly relate to many of her students.

When asked what she wanted to be remembered for when she is no longer in this school, she said, "[I'd like to be remembered] as fair and honest." Girard also added that she hopes everyone realizes and remembers that she truly valued each and every one of the students that she taught.

When she is not busy in the classroom, she is most likely to be at home playing with her dogs, Dudley, Winston and Gerti. She also likes to read and travel.

She lives with her husband, Gary. Girard and her husband have one son, Seth, who lives in Brookings and works at Daktronics.

Although teaching certainly isn't one of the easiest jobs in the world, it is most definitely one that Girard likes. "I'll continue to teach as long as I still look forward to it. I still wake up every morning and can't wait to see the students," she said. Of her profession, Girard summed up her feelings into a few sentences. "I do feel very lucky that I work in a profession with such dedicated individuals. You have to be dedicated to work in this field."

This story is published thanks to a joint agreement between the Plain Talk and the Vermillion High School journalism class.

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