Spaulding gets the nod as Outstanding Educator

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By Brandon Mattingly

St. Dominic’s Jane Spaulding has been a teacher at the school since 1974.

On Wednesday, she’ll be honored for her work when she’s presented with the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Father Joseph McGee Outstanding Educator Award.
“I can’t really put (what the award means) into words,” Spaulding said. “I’m honored and I’m very grateful, but at the same time, I feel like there are so many people in this building that deserve it also. I think it should be an award for the school, not me.”
She said there are several teachers at St. Dominic who have been at the school nearly as long as her, but she was honored by the nomination from Principal Pam Breunig, whom she said has helped her become a more well-rounded teacher.
“I’m very honored that she nominated me,” Spaulding said. “She has always allowed me to be a traditional teacher, but she’s also encouraged me to embrace technology and the newer ways, and I’m not afraid to try (new things).”
When Spaulding arrived at St. Dominic nearly 38 years ago, she wasn’t expecting to hang around long.
She said she thought she would get a year or two of experience before moving on to work for the county school system, which paid higher wages and offered benefits.
However, Spaulding said that plan went right out the window as soon as she returned to the school she attended as a child.
“When I walked in this door, I knew I’d never leave it,” she said. “It’s just a home to me.”
Throughout her time at St. Dominic, Spaulding said she’s learned a lot from the kids in her classes.
In fact, she said she’s learned more from her students than vice versa.
“It’s been a 38-year faith journey, because they’ve taught me more about being close to God than I could have ever taught them,” she said. “Teaching has been the most rewarding profession that anyone could ever have.”
Incoming students are consistently anxious for Spaulding’s class after hearing stories of her dancing on her desk, a tradition that she said began with one of her fourth grade classes, which she taught for 26 years.
She was having a hard time getting the class to learn division computation, so she found a unique way to get their attention.
“I said, ‘Guys, I’ll do anything for you if you will learn your division computation. I’ll even dance on my desk if you want me to,’” Spaulding said. “That’s all it took. I didn’t have much trouble teaching division computation after that.”
Now, teaching the second grade, Spaulding doesn’t teach division computation, but the desk-dancing tradition has stayed with her after word spread and incoming students anticipated seeing the same.
Spaulding said she doesn’t know how much longer she’ll teach, but as long as she can get on her desk, she’ll be there.
“It’s no longer an incentive for them, it’s an incentive for me to keep teaching,” she said. “As long as I can get up there, then I’m going to teach.”
Spaulding gave credit to several people who have influenced her as a teacher, but she said the Dominican sisters who taught her as a youth and Kathleen Abell -- the first full-time lay teacher at St. Dominic -- were among those who have had the biggest impact on her, pointing to Abell as the first teacher that got her involved in religious studies.
Spaulding will be honored at the annual Salute to Catholic School Alumni dinner, which benefits the Catholic Education Foundation.
The presentation will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Galt House Hotel.