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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 2 weeks ago

Meet the Teacher of the Year nominee for Osceola Elementary

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Julie Via has been teaching kindergarten for three decades.
by: Jarleene Almenas Staff Writer

Teaching kindergarten is something Osceola Elementary teacher Julie Via puts her heart and soul into.

When Via was in first grade, she dealt with dyslexia and had to repeat the grade in order to learn how to read. Via said she remembers being part of a reading group and really struggling, but that her teacher was sweet and calm, and that helped her progress.

“She touched my life that way and I thought that was neat,” Via said.

For 30 years, she has been the first teacher many kids have had. She's spent 25 of those in the same classroom at Osceola Elementary, trying to touch their lives the way her first grade teacher did. Via said she always loved to help others growing up, teaching them how to do anything they had trouble with.

Now, she gets to do that on a daily basis for her students.

“To see their smiling faces, to see them learning—that’s what makes me feel good about myself, is knowing that they’re learning, that I’m reassuring to them," Via said.

She said her favorite subject to teach to her students is reading because she gets to see firsthand the growth in each of them in that area throughout the year.

“When they come into kindergarten, we have such a wide range," Via said. "Some have gone to VPK, some have never, ever read a book or held a book. Some of them don’t own a book.”

Via said she gets goosebumps on her arms the first time she hears one of her students read aloud. She often picks up the phone and calls their parents so that they can hear their child read too. 

Outside of standard curriculum, she tries to instill a sense of family among her class. She said that's her philosophy on teaching and that she loves to teach the kids to love one another.

“No matter what happens at home—that’s OK— but in here we have rules, and we have to get along," Via said. "We treat each other like they’re our best friends.”

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