Vickie Boutiette, 2005 Freida J. Riley Award

Written by on May 15, 2005 in 2005, Educator, Frieda J. Riley Award

Vickie Boutiette

Vickie Boutiette

Westside Elementary School
West Fargo, North Dakota

Vickie Boutiette is the recipient of the sixth annual Freida J. Riley Teacher Award sponsored by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation and the Partnership for America’s Future, Inc. Mrs. Boutiette received the award at a luncheon in Clarksburg, West Virginia on May 3, 2005.

Vickie is a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader/Classroom teacher at Westside Elementary School in West Fargo, North Dakota. Fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a teacher in 1984, Vickie looked forward to making a difference in her students’ lives as she remembered the impact of her childhood teachers on her life. That changed overnight when she was faced with a life threatening bout with cancer in 1990. Although doctors told her that her teaching career had ended after her speech and eating were affected by the removal of part of her neck, tongue and lower jaw bone as well as part of her mandible from multiple surgeries, she was not deterred from continuing her life long dream of teaching. After enduring speech therapy and talking exercises to learn to talk without part of her jaw, Vickie returned to teaching in 1993 as a reading teacher with one-on-one or small groups of students.

With a desire to see improvement in elementary students’ success in reading and writing, Vickie channeled some of her energies during her recovery to obtaining her Masters Degree in reading. When the results were still not as she had hoped, she investigated other reading programs and techniques. Undaunted by her physical limitations, which also included receiving sustenance from a permanent feeding tube, Vickie convinced her school district and family to allow her to attend a one-year training program in South Dakota with Reading Recovery to become at Teacher/Leader. This is a one-on-one literacy education program for first grade students.

In addition to teaching reading at Westside Elementary, Vickie has instituted the Reading Recovery program not only in her school district but many other districts throughout North Dakota. As the only trained Teacher/Leader in her State, she provides training, support and professional development for elementary school teachers. Building on her successes with first graders, she has continued her literacy challenge by expanding her focus to include teaching the same techniques to teachers in other grades to foster success in reading and writing with their students.

Vickie credits her family and childhood teachers for their influence on her character, and her faith in God for giving her a clear purpose in her life. Her perseverance, courage and dignity in facing the challenges of her disability have become the means to take her much-loved teaching career in a new direction. This is illustrated by the following quote by her co-workers, “Despite all of her physical challenges, Vickie has an ever-present smile and is always willing to share her knowledge and expertise with her colleagues, parents, and students.”


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