Matthew Hajdun (VT '12)
TeacherAmerican School of Brasilia
Brazilia, Brazil, VT
At the time of the Award, Matthew Hajdun was:Teacher
Champlain Elementary School
Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): 3, 4, 5
Matthew Hajdun's fifth-grade classroom at Burlington's Champlain Elementary dives into the day with a morning meeting, then engages in innovative lessons that frequently take students out of the room and often weaves Spanish into the curriculum. (He spent time teaching in a Honduran orphanage, so he's well-versed in the language.) But the classroom is not the only place where you will find this fun-loving educator. He makes surprise visits to the gym, where he rollerblades in as "Mr. Quizner" to ask kids exam questions.
As part of a classroom looping program, Hajdun taught his current students last year as fourth graders. He differentiates instruction, which is grounded in the latest research-based information, and is talented at teaching complex concepts. Highly inclusive, Hajdun is skilled with special education students as well as those who are gifted. He teaches social skills and social responsibility, and hosts family picnics, ice skating parties and movie nights. Students become book buddies with younger pupils and Hajdun has even fashioned a cozy spot in the room for kids to head for a break if they are struggling. Student achievement scores for reading, writing, math and science all rank above district and state averages.
Described as "a stellar cooperating teacher for student teachers," Hajdun is observed by undergraduate education majors as a model teacher. A grade-level team leader, he mentors student teachers, holds a leadership role on Champlain's literacy team, and heads the grade- level and data teams. Hajdun wrote and led a districtwide reading program and is active in multiple community volunteer roles, many of which deal with literacy. His guiding star: "What is best for children."