By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — For the past two weeks, Assumption High School has been on a ride as one of its own teachers was nominated for top teacher in the United States through the television show “Live! with Kelly.”
Science teacher Wendy Martin was nominated by former student Abby Greufe for the top honor.
Assumption shifted its finals schedule to accommodate the live remote that had been scheduled for 8 a.m. May 22, when the announcement was to be made. But Principal Chuck Elbert received a call the evening of May 21 that Martin did not win and the satellite truck would not be coming to the school.
Students were told the news as they walked into school the next morning.
“It was one of the executive producer’s decisions. We’re disappointed, but we still have a top-five teacher here and that’s exciting. You can’t take that away,” Elbert said while walking through the gym where students were studying for finals. During the past two weeks he has received emails from people throughout the United States congratulating him on having a top teacher finalist at Assumption, he added.
As Martin entered the gym, students and staff gave her a round of applause. “I’m disappointed, but whoever won was most deserving. It was awesome to be in the top five,” Martin said. All of the nominated teachers were deserving of the honor and were recognized for the profession that they all love — teaching,” she added. She felt honored to have been nominated by her own students.
Freshman Erin Jennings said, “We’re disappointed, but Mrs. Martin proved she is a top-five teacher. We know she is number one in our hearts.”
The school provided doughnuts and juice for the students in honor of Martin’s accomplishment.
Martin and Greufe were flown to New York last week and Martin made an appearance on Live! with Kelly on May 15. The two had about 2 ½ days to take in the sights of New York City. They attended a Broadway show, visited the World Trade Center memorial and Ellis Island, among other things. As a finalist, Martin and her husband will take an Alaskan cruise. Assumption also will receive five Epson projectors.
“The support has been incredible,” Martin said. “This shows how Assumption is a family.”
Assumption girls track team underscored that point last weekend in a textbook example of sportsmanship at the Class 3 A Iowa State Track and Field Championships in Des Moines. One of its members, freshman Clare Carroll, collapsed during a relay race. The girls’ team had been vying for first place before their teammate’s fall. Instead of worrying about the end results, the girls gathered around Carroll in comfort and support.
“We preach to our kids all of the time that sometimes not all your teammates will be able to compete like they always do. Sometimes you have to pick up the slack for your teammates. We always finish what we start,” said Tim O’Neill, head men’s and women’s Track & Field coach at Assumption.
“In this case, Clare lay exhausted on the track as her body shut down on her. She was hurt more mentally and emotionally than physically. Her teammates knew that situation could happen to anyone and instead of being overly upset about the race and the ramifications of the meet, they switched their feelings toward a freshman teammate and future of our program and picked her up and made sure she knew that they were there for her. Making sure Clare was OK was more important than any trophy — even the State Championship trophy!
“Clare was able to get the baton to the finish line somehow and Maddie Irmen, rather than packing it in and quitting, finished that race despite being completely out of contention. She finished what we started.
“Our girls showed everyone how you act as a teammate and as a human being when adversity hits. This certainly wasn’t something that was planned, it was all a reaction … parents, teachers, coaches, classmates and teammates mold these reactions. It just goes to show the values that these young women have and how their friends, family and Catholic faith have shaped their lives.”
Assumption finished second to Wahlert High School in Dubuque.