Great Dreams Need Great Teachers: Deb Fuge

It didn’t take long for Ryan and Danielle Gussie, a military family that relocated to Virginia Beach this summer, to find a “sense of comfort” with their son’s first-grade teacher Deb Fuge.

In an email to the Great Dreams Need Great Teachers campaign, Danielle wrote: “Like many military families in our position, we have lived in three states in three years. My 7-year-old son, Mason, has attended four schools in three years which is a feat of its own. We have encountered many special people who have contributed to Mason’s success, but there is something about Mrs. Fuge that has provided a sense of comfort that we haven’t had in three years.”

Dr. Aaron Spence visited Fuge’s classroom at Three Oaks Elementary Nov. 13, joined by the Gussies, to surprise her with a recognition from the Great Dreams Need Great Teachers campaign.  In addition to reading portions of Danielle’s letter to the class, Spence presented Fuge with free movie passes from campaign sponsor Beach Cinema Alehouse.

Read more from the Gussie’s letter below and visit the Great Dreams Need Great Teachers website to see more entries about the division’s Great Teachers.

We have been fortunate enough to get Mrs. Fuge as my son’s first-grade teacher. She has been such a positive influence for my son, allowing him to flourish in the classroom. My husband is a Naval Flight Officer in the Navy. Like many military families in our position, we have lived in three states in three years. My 7-year-old son, Mason, has attended four schools in three years which is a feat of its own. Mason has a rare genetic disease which has complicated his young life and has caused him to have heart surgery and long stays in hospitals throughout the United States. We have encountered many special people who have contributed to Mason’s success, but there is something about Mrs. Fuge that has provided a sense of comfort that we haven’t had in three years.

Due to Mason’s expansive medical history, he is weary around adults and feels uncomfortable when his dad and I aren’t around to comfort him. He has a tendency to “shut down” when he is feeling vulnerable which has made it challenging at times for some of his teacher in his past. My husband and I were nervous to send him into another new school district and explain to Mrs. Fuge how to deal with Mason and his situation. I went to meet Mrs. Fuge a couple of days prior to the beginning of school in order to introduce ourselves. We left with some paperwork to fill out and bring back on the first day of school. This is when I knew Mrs. Fuge was going to be the perfect fit.

We have been fortunate enough to get Mrs. Fuge as my son’s first-grade teacher. She has been such a positive influence for my son, allowing him to flourish in the classroom. My husband is a Naval Flight Officer in the Navy. Like many military families in our position, we have lived in three states in three years. My 7-year-old son, Mason, has attended four schools in three years which is a feat of its own. Mason has a rare genetic disease which has complicated his young life and has caused him to have heart surgery and long stays in hospitals throughout the United States. We have encountered many special people who have contributed to Mason’s success, but there is something about Mrs. Fuge that has provided a sense of comfort that we haven’t had in three years.

Just recently, I had a parent-teacher conference with Mrs. Fuge. She held a student-led, parent-teacher conference where Mason provided me with a folder of his work. With the assistance of Mrs. Fuge, he sifted through his work and explained to me all of his new found knowledge. He explained to me what he felt his strengths and weaknesses were in the classroom and I could truly tell that he felt confident leading this conference. This method was a way for Mason to tell me how he felt he was doing in class. It was one of the most informative parent-teacher conferences I have had and I was so pleased that she allowed the children to have the independence to lead the way.

These are just a couple of examples that make Mrs. Fuge the best educator I gave come across. She is warm, compassionate, even tempered and an overall lovely person. She encompasses everything a first-grade teacher should be. My son has confidence that has allowed him to open up in the classroom and thrive. He no longer shuts down in class when called upon. When I drop him off at school, he exits the car with a smile on his face. I don’t think she knows what a blessing she has been to my family. She has lifted such a heavy weight from our family’s shoulders and has provided my son with the confidence to go to school as a happy 7-year-old boy, eager to learn. She deserves so much because she is the quintessential first-grade teacher.

-Danielle Gussie

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