July 28, 2014

Elyria
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UPDATED: Elyria High’s Stacie Starr named Top Teacher (Video, Photos)

Elyria High teacher Stacie Starr reacts to the news that she won the Top Teacher contest. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Elyria High teacher Stacie Starr reacts to the news that she won the Top Teacher contest. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA – Stacie Starr’s reaction Tuesday to winning the LIVE with Kelly and Michael Top Teacher Search was that of an ultimate teacher.

With cameras trained on her for the live money shot, Starr forgot about the millions of eyes fixed on her and turned to the more than a dozen students flanking her with congratulatory signs in hand.

“We won,” she screamed.

The students – mostly alumni of her boys mentoring group from when she taught at Northwood Middle School – swarmed their favorite teacher. The excitement and screams from Starr and the students nearly drowned out the horn honk from Chuck Sturgill, general manager of Nick Abraham Elyria Ford, as he drove Starr’s 2014 Ford Escape through the parking lot.

That was the capstone gift that originated from a nomination letter from a grateful parent to the LIVE with Kelly and Michael show.

After she was chosen to be in the pool of candidates for top teacher, Starr received a trip to New York City to appear on the nationally syndicated show. Then, while there, she was gifted with an all-expense paid trip to the Bahamas and ElyriaSchools was given a new $20,000 digital, wireless scoreboard for Ely Stadium.

Tuesday’s win – a brand-new car she said she will request in Elyria red – making Starr the 2014 Top Teacher, was the icing on the cake.

“And, all I really wanted was the gold apple,” Starr said referring to the apple trophy the show’s Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan said would go to each of the five finalists.

It was a long time of honking the horn in her new car – between the show and Ford Motor Co., Starr will have zero out-of-pocket cost – posing for pictures with multiple students and fielding phone calls from family and friends who watched Starr win on national television before Starr was able to pause and actually savor the fact that she won.

“For once, I’m really speechless,” she said. “Beyond words – it really hasn’t set in at all that they picked me.”

The show said it will not disclose how many submissions were received since early March when the 2014 contest started. “Live’s” producers selected 12 semi-finalists and online voting by viewers narrowed the field to five finalists and then the chosen top educator.

Maryann Verlotti said she could never imagine everything that has transpired in recent weeks for Starr when she penned a personal and passionate letter to the show about how she credits Starr with saving her son.

“I honestly just thought they were going to read the letter on TV and I would be like ‘Oh, Stacie, look what I wrote for you,’” she said. “But she deserves it. She got herself that stuff. I didn’t. She did all the work.”

Starr has been with Elyria Schools for 14 years and works as an intervention specialist. She spent multiple years at Northwood Middle School, where she also ran a mentoring program for boys as well as coached boys’ basketball.

One of those boys was Verlotti’s son, Dominic Zullo, now 16. The teen has Asperger’s syndrome, and Starr took him under her wing, getting him introduced to basketball and encouraging him to speak up to his peers.

“From the day I hired her, I knew she was going to be a super star,” said Elyria High Principal Tom Jama, who was once the Northwood principal. “When she came to me and wanted to start the boy’s group, I knew she would be the right kind of person for the job. She has a belief that all kids can be successful when given love, help and motivation. The group has benefited so many kids throughout the years.”

Deanyon Groves, 19, doesn’t go to Elyria High anymore. But he couldn’t think of any other place he wanted to be Tuesday. He brought Starr flowers and had just four words for her.

“You deserve all this,” he said.

The two share a special bond. Groves joined Starr’s boys group in middle school, but by his senior year in high school had forgotten many of the lessons he had learned. Because of grades and behavior, he was kicked out of school and faced expulsion.

Starr went to bat for Groves.

“When I graduated last year, I dedicated my graduation to her and she handed me my diploma,” he said. “Ms. Starr means everything to me.’’

Trenell Oliver, 18, a senior, said he has known Starr since the seventh grade. She was the one who taught him to follow his dreams and never give up.

“She just wants everyone to work hard to be everything they can be,” he said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

  • Otter

    Congratulations!

  • Jeff

    Congratulations Stacie…Much deserved !!!

    on a side note….i wonder which politician…etc… will try to take credit for this happening and taking the spotlight off of her…just a matter of time. she did it on her own!!!

  • FoodForThought63

    Made me cry!

  • luvmytoaster

    Congratulations to Stacie Starr – I wish that I could have had you as a teacher at EHS……well deserved I’m sure.

  • ched

    How Awesome…..Great to know that there are still good people in this world, and a Teacher who really cares about her students. Wish there were more people like Stacie out there!

  • Jack Johnson

    Seriously? Cameras trained on her for the Live Money Shot? What happened to editors? Have they all retired?

    • luvmytoaster

      My guess would be that the cameras were trained on all of the finalists – not just her…..otherwise it would be too obvious.

    • Willie Jenkins

      I caught that Jack lol

  • Myview

    Congrats Ms. Starr!!!! You deserve the best…Because you give your best!

  • Shawn Hannity

    Well deserved!

  • TEACHER

    As a fellow Ashland University alum, and as an educator myself, I wish to acknowledge Ms. Starr on her wonderful, selfless accomplishments and to say to her, “Well deserved!” No sour grapes here. Congratulations!

  • It has to stop

    Always has to be one that has to be a douche bag. She sounds like a wonderful teacher and has brought recognition to a school system that is bettering itself.
    Get a life Double Douchebag.

  • Barbara Radke

    You know there comes a time when you have to put the “dysfunctional City” crap aside. You do realize that if you live in Elyria it makes you dysfunctional. Now she is not “just another teacher” she is an exceptional teacher, one that goes out of her way, give more than is required or requested. I happen to know that it wasn’t just people in Elyria voting for her it was people all over the country – you know the good old U S of A,, so where do you live in this dysfunctional city, can’t you just be happy for someone and for the students that they have a teacher so caring? That a person like Stacie encourages children to stay in school, do there best and tries to assist them into higher education? Why in the world would you find something not to be happy about with this. If you can’t see the good in a good person and a good teacher, you Double D are not part of the cure of this in your opinion dysfunctional city. You should take all of your riches and remove yourself from such a terrible place and do as the good book says and shake the dust of your sandals and return no more. I hate to see people hurt and it’s obvious our city is impeding your growth, move on.

  • luvmytoaster

    Are you jealous that someone who is deserving received recognition and you didn’t? Apparently she’s not “just another teacher in a dysfunctional city.”
    I no longer live in the city (graduated from EHS, also I am not low income) yet I voted for her – she seems to exemplify the attitude and spirit of a teacher.

  • Jeff

    omg…you have got to be the worlds biggest loser

  • ched

    What a Loser….go Crawl back under the Rock you came from!

  • Sarah Cermak Burgett

    Wow. Is it so difficult to believe that there are some teachers who care tremendously about their students and want to do everything they can to help them succeed? Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Excellent teachers try to change the world, one student at a time. Teaching is one profession where people actually can do something to help end the cycle of poverty that continues in urban areas. Perhaps that cycle will never completely end, but we can at least do all we can to narrow the gap from within our own classrooms. I will be student teaching next spring, and I would be HONORED if Elyria City Schools were to accept me.

  • stop ur whining part deux

    Sounds like sour grapes. Did mommy and daddy not love you enough? Or better yet, you were an academic screw up that amounted to nothing because you did not have a teacher like this to care about you?

    You take the cl out of class, try having some pride in the city you reside.

  • John Ripley

    Sorry my household makes over 100K and I voted a bunch for her! Your an ignorant a$$!

  • Myview

    DoubleD…this helped Elyria in a few ways. The car dealership will be paying taxes to the city on the sale of her gifted car. The High School got a new score board. How about we as taxpayers buying a score board for the high school. I’m sure you would be the one to scream and cry. This gave our kids a little bit of positive, which I am sure is hard for them at times when they (which my son did) read ignorant comments like yours. YOU ARE OUR DYSFUNCTION. Ms. Starr is a gem!

  • Myview

    The taxpayers did win…the school won’t need to look at our dysfunctional community (as you say) for money to replace our scoreboard. My question to you is if she is just an ordinary teacher then why would the kids have shown so much excitement for her, and if you listen in to the video you can hear them telling her they love her. Are you soar because you are one of the low income housing residents? I’m sorry that you are so miserable, that you want to spread so much negativity…If you live in Elyria and aren’t happy then move. Oh maybe you can’t afford to live anywhere else, and that is why your soar? One more question..does DoubleD stand for Donnie Downer or Debbie Downer? I’m not moving…I am ready to fight and take back my city…it starts with our future. (those kids that Ms. Starr has poured her heart and soul into)

  • Shawn Hannity

    The epitome of a hater! Lol. Just e happy for her. Mu

  • Otter

    Calling them a douchebag is an insult, to the douchebag.

  • Otter

    Calling DD, a douche bag, is an insult to douche bags…..

  • Sis Delish

    The city would Love to have you… replace older, more expensive educators. Good Luck!