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Sarah Swiger Award

Sarah Swiger served Winchester many years as a School Committee member, community activist and education advocate. Her work was recognized across Massachusetts, her death more than a year ago a loss that is still keenly felt by her family, colleagues and educators.

WFEE is proud to announce that John Fleming, WHS educator, is the recipient of the first annual Sarah Swiger Award, 2016.

As a high school educator and coach, John Fleming is well known to students for his empathy and leadership skills. The Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence is proud to recognize those skills and more by making Fleming the first recipient of WFEE's Sarah Swiger Award. Instituted in memory of long time school committee member, early supporter of WFEE and community activist Sarah Swiger, the award will be given annually to an educator who embodies a commitment to all students, an understanding of the needs of the whole child and devotion to community service.

Fleming was one of 23 educators nominated for the award. A peer wrote of Fleming, "He is everything an educator should be and more. He is caring, inspirational and a tremendous role model. What John gives to this community is unmatched - he exemplifies what the Sarah Swiger Award represents." During a ceremony to honor Fleming, fellow educators and parents agreed. Parent Kathy Koman called Fleming "...a great teacher, coach, friend, and citizen. He is so deserving of this award. We are so proud to be "Flem Nation."

A Winchester native, Fleming began began working at Winchester High School in 2009 as a teaching assistant. He quickly became an instructor in the Excel program for students at risk for failure and is now both a teacher in that program and the Academic Coordinator for the WHS Transition Program. Fleming coaches boys basketball, and boys and girls volleyball. During his time as a WHS student Fleming was both a football quarterback and starring basketball player. Arlington School Superintendent Kathy Bodie knew Fleming as a high school player, "The team could always count on him and he carried that forward into his life as a teacher."

"I am extremely honored and humbled to be the first recipient of the Sarah Swiger award," said Fleming during the award ceremony. "We are here today to honor Sarah and the impact she had on the community of Winchester. She had an impact on people she never even met." About himself, Fleming said simply, "I love what I do."

The Swiger Award comes with a $1,000.00 grant to be used by the recipient for professional development, programming at his or her school or for a classroom project. "We were overwhelmed by the quality of all our nominees. We heard about classroom teachers, teaching assistants, specialists and nurses," said WFEE Executive Director Caren Connelly. "But John stood out as someone who's whole life is dominated by service provided to others and concern for all students. We think Sarah Swiger would be pleased with our choice and proud of all our nominees."

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