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URI alumna named 2024 Rhode Island Instructor of the 12 months

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 17, 2023 – The youngsters in Aimee Couto’s 2022-2023 first-grade class at East Windfall’s Whiteknact Elementary College know firsthand that she is among the greatest, if not the most effective trainer in Rhode Island.

“She is assured and enjoyable. She could be very loving, however she can be powerful with us,” Halaya Soares stated. Brandon Weeden agreed, saying, Ms. Couto “has enjoyable with us. Even when one thing is tough, she all the time helps you.”

Bryce Santos stated, “day-after-day is enjoyable,” and Aubrey Mead added, Ms. Couto “all the time makes certain you’re doing issues proper. She is assured in herself and in her abilities as a trainer.”

TO THE LETTER: Aimee Couto works together with her college students on letters and sounds.

However when you ask Couto about being not too long ago named the Rhode Island Division of Schooling’s 2024 Rhode Island Instructor of the 12 months, she’s going to inform you, “I’m only a first grade trainer who loves her job. I simply get to signify the entire nice academics in East Windfall and throughout Rhode Island.”

The 1996 graduate of the College of Rhode Island, who earned her bachelor’s diploma in wonderful arts, was honored throughout a ceremony at her college attended by Gov. Dan McKee, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, Rhode Island Schooling Fee Angélica Infante-Inexperienced, East Windfall Superintendent Sandra Forand and 2023 Rhode Island Instructor of the 12 months Lisa Leaheey.

SHE’S THE BEST TEACHER: Halaya Soares, left, and Aubrey Mead speak about their trainer Aimee Couto.

Within the coming 12 months Couto will work with the Division of Schooling on strengthening skilled improvement and classroom engagement across the state. She can be eligible for the 2024 Nationwide Instructor of the 12 months Award.

Throughout one of many last days of the varsity 12 months, the classroom shared by Couto and co-teacher Amanda Baptista, was abuzz with laughter, pleasure, smiles, hugs and hands-on studying.

“We mixed our school rooms after COVID-19,” Baptista stated, “as a result of we work nicely collectively. Aimee is wonderful, devoted and passionate. She is all the time seeking to attempt one thing new every day. We’ve a ton of enjoyable.”

A HUG ALWAYS HELPS: Pupil Halaya Soares and her trainer, Aimee Couto, share a hug.

The top of the varsity 12 months is a vital interval for Couto, her fellow classroom trainer Baptista, and all of her colleagues.

“This time of 12 months is very necessary for academics and college students as a result of we’re trying again on the development that our college students had. After I talked with my fellow academics, I stated we have to do extra, we have to get them additional. I requested, ‘What extra do we have to do, what do we have to do in a different way subsequent 12 months?’ I’m all the time trying again.”

However though Couto always strives to do higher by her college students, she is proud to say her college students progressed steadily all year long. “We’re studying and writing,” Couto stated. “First grade is so magical, as a result of the kids are on the cusp of simply pulling all the pieces collectively.”

As kids with broad smiles requested for hugs, Couto fortunately obliged.

“I adore it. I simply really feel so lucky since you get these college students when they’re younger and they’re so superior and wonderful,” Couto stated. “Affection is so necessary as a result of that’s how they know that we care about them and love them. They really feel secure. They’re prepared to take dangers, and after they take dangers, that’s when the training occurs. I really feel like my college students, it doesn’t matter what their backgrounds are, have the flexibility to be taught and make the most of alternatives.”

A HIGH FIVE AND A SMILE: Brandon Weeden smiles as he will get a excessive 5 from trainer Aimee Couto.

Couto additionally loves the variety of her college students. “It’s a stupendous rainbow, it’s simply attractive. It’s not solely the colour of their pores and skin, and their backgrounds, it’s what they carry to the classroom. We wish them to precise that.”

She has been instructing in East Windfall for 13 years, 11 of them at Whiteknact elementary. She facilitates packages coping with constructive social and emotional improvement at Whiteknact, serves on the varsity enchancment staff and is the district’s Language Necessities for Academics of Studying and Spelling (LETRS) facilitator.

Saying she comes from a protracted line of academics and that she all the time needed to work with kids, Couto talked about coming to URI and her determination to review artwork and artwork historical past.

“I had a ardour for artwork, and my mother and father stated, go and research it. And see what would possibly develop from it. They have been supportive and so they didn’t say I had to do that or that. My mother and father stated ‘Go, and have an outstanding 4 years, be taught and develop, which I did.”

A self-described navy brat who was born in Alaska and lived in Hawaii, her household in the end settled in Paoli, Pennsylvania, after which she left to play soccer and research artwork at URI. She was a four-year participant for the Rams and in addition labored on the URI Wonderful Arts Gallery.

URI is the place she met her husband Adam, a fellow 1996 URI grad, who did the general public deal with duties throughout her soccer video games. “He needed to go to UNH, however he bought waitlisted, and I turned UNH down.So he got here to URI. That’s how we met. I tease him saying, ‘Honey we have been supposed to satisfy.’

“We lived throughout the corridor from one another in Hopkins Corridor. Thank God for coed dorms, proper?”

After graduating from URI, Couto did some laptop artwork, labored as a enterprise supervisor for a neighborhood firm and began her household with Adam. At that time, the previous nanny, camp counselor and pre-school trainer realized she needed to renew working with kids and went to RIC to earn a bachelor’s diploma in training.

She has nothing however reward for URI, and is happy that considered one of her three kids, Jacob, who’s finding out kinesiology, will enter his sophomore 12 months within the fall.

Couto, who lives in North Kingstown together with her household, stated, “URI is the most effective, and we’re large supporters. We’re down there on a regular basis. We go to soccer video games, soccer video games, and we’ve season tickets for basketball. The issues URI is doing–the buildings, and the packages, are so thrilling. However whereas URI is rising, there’s nonetheless the gorgeous quad.”

And sure, her URI wonderful arts diploma is useful within the classroom.

“We do a number of arts and crafts, a number of creating, as a result of I’ve that half in me. I naturally permit my college students to learn from that as nicely. My college students have sketchbooks wherein they colour, draw and discover. It’s one thing I take pleasure in, and it permits them to precise themselves.”

She says her childhood and the frequent strikes for her dad’s navy profession are what gas her curiosity in studying and the language arts.

“I credit score my childhood with my ardour for literacy,” Couto stated. “As a result of we moved each two or three years, I all the time struggled with studying. As I’ve studied and brought many programs in regards to the science of studying, I’ve come to understand that my academics didn’t have the information to assist me progress, particularly when it got here to these frequent household strikes. It’s why it’s so necessary that we give you a nationwide right-to-read act so we’re all on the identical web page.”