2018 Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship recipient, Patty Hood. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

2018 Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship recipient, Patty Hood. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

‘Mrs. Hood is the light in our school’

Patty Hood, who has spent her career devoted to Berlin's students, has been awarded the annual Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship, which recognizes excellence in public-school teaching

Patty Hood grew up in Berlin, graduated from Berlin High School in 1975 and left town just long enough to earn her degree and teaching certificate at Plymouth State University. She brought that credential right back to her hometown and went to work in Berlin schools.

Why?

“I had a wonderful educational experience here,” she said. “We had dynamic teachers who cared about us as people.” And she has spent her career paying that forward to generations of Berlin students.

Hood has been awarded the 2018 Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship, a $10,000 stipend intended to support excellent public school teachers, reward their commitment to schools in the North Country, and keep them teaching in the area.

“Just to be recognized with such an incredible group of North Country educators…I am so honored,” Hood said.

Hood teaches in the same high school from which she graduated (and where she was a triple-letter athlete). The halls are less crowded now – almost 1,000 kids went to school here in 1975, compared with fewer than 500 now – and Hood has updated some of its curriculum. She teaches health to every 10th grader in Berlin, and incorporates overall wellness, stress reduction, mindfulness and respectful communication in her approach. She created and teaches a women’s studies class, helped launch women’s ice hockey and soccer teams at Berlin High, and was a longtime coach and former athletic director. Students know her as a teacher who is always there for them, no matter the circumstance, whose relentless positivity and belief in them has helped them see their own strengths.

Berlin High principal Kevin Carpenter calls her a “pillar” of the school.

Hood is an avid outdoorswoman who has climbed all of New Hampshire’s 48 4,000-foot peaks. She advises the Berlin High School Youth Leadership Through Adventure (YLTA) group – leading kids on outdoor adventures, helping them connect more deeply to their communities and the North Country’s natural landscapes, teaching leadership skills and ultimately helping them make healthy choices. She also leads a project that focuses on the climate of the school community, emphasizing positive relationships and kindness and respect.

She is especially focused on helping girls see themselves as leaders. “I see the wonderful gifts these girls have, but they struggle with so many issues,” she said. “With women’s studies and YLTA, I hope to plant these seeds and water them every day.”

Renee Morrissette is a former student now majoring in outdoor education at the University of New Hampshire. Hood, she wrote “Has been one of the most influential women in my life.”

“Mrs. Hood,” wrote another student, simply: “is the light in our school.”