By Linda Dillman
The mathematical odds of winning were daunting, but Canal Winchester Middle School math instructor Jeannie Doukakis proved the numbers were in her favor after she was named an outstanding educator.
More than 120 classroom teachers from the elementary level to high school were nominated for Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics awards across the state.
Doukakis—a Canal Winchester Schools teacher for 10 years—was selected from middle school nominees throughout the 12 counties comprising the Central District, one of eight across Ohio.
According to the council, teachers can be nominated by a colleague, administrator, student or parent. Award winners are honored at a conference in Sandusky, Ohio in October.
“I love teaching math because it is genuinely exciting to watch the students discover how to do something in a way that is meaningful for them, then relate it to something they will use in the real world,” said Doukakis. “I try to really stress the good that comes from making mistakes in math. It helps students learn that it’s okay to be wrong or try something in a different way. Math is one of those subjects that everyone can approach differently and still find success. It helps that when I tell them math is fun, I truly believe it.”
Doukakis, an Ohio State University graduate, started teaching 21 years ago.
After two decades in education, she said the most enjoyable aspect of teaching is seeing the excitement and pride students feel when they get a math concept and are successful. Doukakis said it is especially rewarding to see students who start out not liking math or fearing it come to a place where they no longer mind volunteering in class or stop being afraid to ask questions.
“Getting to know my students on a personal level helps that process a lot and builds trust so they are not afraid to try,” said Doukakis. “I am very honored and excited to receive this award, and feel fortunate to teach in such a great building. I work with some of the best people that are so supportive, creative and caring. I’m lucky to be where I am and look forward to coming school year.”
Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar called Doukakis an influential and amazing teacher who loves her students and her content. He said she demonstrates innovative practices and a commitment to excellence in mathematics teaching and is truly deserving of the OCMT award.
“Mrs. Doukakis’ passion for teaching is evident in the way she makes learning an engaging and positive experience,” added middle school principal Kelly Zywczyk. “She has over 100 students on her team, yet she makes each and every student feel like they are important and recognized.”