Above: Osborn Hill School teacher Kristin Golia visits with Teddy Gerber, who was one of Golia’s third-grade students when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. He died a year later. Teddy’s family nominated Golia for the “Top Teacher” contest hosted by the “Live! with Kelly” television show, in recognition for her care, compassion and assistance that she extended to Teddy and his family during the year he battled his disease. She is now a finalist and will be profiled on the show on Friday, May 18. Contributed photo.
In two days, it will be Kristin Golia’s chance to shine as part of the Top Teacher Week feature on “Live! with Kelly.”
A teacher at Osborn Hill Elementary School in Fairfield, this Stamford resident is among five finalists who are being featured this week on the nationally syndicated morning talk show. Golia’s segment will air Friday, May 18. The show airs on WFSB and WABC at 9 a.m.
Last week, crews from the show visited Golia’s classroom to get some footage for her appearance. And, on Friday, Golia said she would be heading in to New York City, where the show is produced, to appear on the show.
“I’m really so excited,” she said recently, adding that the entire school community, the teachers, the students and their families, have been incredibly supportive. “They have been behind me the second I found out. It is really a close-knit community.”
About two weeks ago, Golia learned she had made the top tier of talented educators. It began with a nomination from Jessica and Bill Gerber, whose children have been taught by Golia, and continued with voting from the public, which enabled her to become one of 12 semifinalists. After all five finalists are profiled, viewers can once again support their favorite by voting online throughout next weekend.
The winner, who will earn $25,000 for his or her school, will be revealed on Tuesday, May 22. And, the top teacher will get a 2013 Ford Fusion.
Gerber said she nominated Golia, who grew up in Fairfield, after seeing an announcement of the program on television. Golia was Gerber’s son Teddy’s third-grade teacher. In 2009, while in Golia’s class, Teddy was diagnosed with cancer.
Between chemotherapy, operations and radiation therapy, Teddy, who was battling an aggressive form of cancer, was not always able to make it to the classroom, which was hard on her son, Gerber said, since he “just loved school. It was hard not to have that in his life.”
Gerber said Golia, whose last name was Travis at the time (she has since married), went above and beyond in her efforts, visiting the family’s home, helping to tutor Teddy and keeping him apprised of the classroom doings. As Gerber wrote in her letter: “Not only would Kristin go over his classwork and homework, but she would also make the experience enjoyable — chatting with Teddy about what was going on in the classroom, doing extra fun projects …”
Gerber continued: “There were some times when Teddy was feeling so ill that he couldn’t always focus on his work — at those times, Kristin would just sit with him quietly, talking with him or reading to him.”
After Teddy died in August 2010, at the age of 9, Golia was there again for the family, Gerber said, when her daughter Gillian entered third grade. Gerber wrote in her nomination letter: “Kristin had already sent a letter to all the parents in the class, asking them to talk to their children about being thoughtful and sensitive to everything that Gillian had gone through. Despite everything that had happened, Gillian managed to have a wonderful year, thanks in no small part to Kristin’s kindness and guidance.”
“I just thought it was a great way to honor everything she has done for our family,” Gerber said.
Golia said she was shocked when she heard she was nominated, let alone among the five finalists.
She said she never expected such recognition for an act that she said she felt brought her such joy.
“I just wanted to be with him, and spend a lot of time with him,” she said of her afternoons with Teddy. “It was such a pleasure for me, really, he was such a joy.”