Update, May 21
Congratulations to Bryan Sawyer from Karigon Elementary School in Clifton Park, NY. He was announced as the winner of the "Top Teacher Search."
Update, May 18
Voting has opened for the "Top Teacher Search" conest and will close Monday, May 21 at 3 p.m. Click here to vote.
Original Story, May 17
If you can get to a TV Friday morning, flip on Live with Kelly! at 9 a.m. -- you may see a familiar face.
, made it to the top five finalists for Live’s third annual Top Teacher Search and will appear both live on Friday’s episode and in a pre-taped segment filmed at the school.
Following Golia’s appearance -- she’s the last of the five finalists to be featured -- friends, family, and viewers have until Monday to vote for the “Top Teacher” of 2012. Voting will take place on Live’s Top Teacher Search website.
The Stamford resident, who will graduate Sunday from with a Masters’ degree in elementary education, was nominated by Jessica Gerber of Fairfield. Golia taught Gerber’s son Teddy during the 2009-2010 school year -- the year the third grader was diagnosed with pediatric cancer.
“While his life, and our family’s life, was turned upside down, one person who stepped in and became a beacon of strength and normalcy was Kristin,” Gerber wrote in her letter nominating Golia to the contest.
Golia described Teddy as a “really sweet, hard-working kid.” She said they were just getting to know each other when Teddy was diagnosed in November.
He ended up missing 100 days of third grade after that diagnosis came, but Teddy graduated from third grade on time thanks to Golia, Gerber wrote.
“She volunteered to come to our house and tutor him whenever he was able. She sent home fun activities and books. She visited him in the hospital. She made videotaped greetings from Teddy's classmates and sent them to us. She was calm, caring, thoughtful and strong, and even though she was incredibly upset to see Teddy suffer, she never let him see it, and instead greeted him with a smile every day she saw him.”
Golia said she “thought it would be nice” to see Teddy every day and make him more comfortable. “He’s a shy kid,” she added.
Teddy relapsed in June 2010. Golia drove to Yale-New Haven Hospital on the last day of school to deliver Teddy’s report card and a DVD that she and the school’s music teacher put together. The DVD showed messages of “love and support” from teachers and Teddy’s classmates, Gerber wrote. Teddy passed away two months later, in August 2010.
Golia found out she had been nominated after the school’s principal announced over the intercom in April that one of their staff made it to the Top 12 finalists -- that staff member was her.
“It was a huge whirlwind without warning,” Golia, who’s finishing up her sixth year teaching for , said.
She was further surprised and touched to learn who nominated her.
“The Gerber family is amazing,” Golia said. “They took something from the pain of losing their child…that they recognized me during all they were going through -- I was just doing what I felt like doing.”
“They felt it was special -- that makes me feel good. We’re all lucky to know them,” she said.
The winner of the Top Teacher Search will be announced Tuesday morning on Live! with Kelly. A camera crew will be sent to the winning teacher’s school to surprise them. The Top Teacher will receive a 2013 Ford Fusion and $25,000 for their school.