Caitlin Staib

An L.J. Hauser Junior High School special education teacher got a big surprise recently when she turned on the “Ellen” show on the afternoon of May 14. 

Caitlin Staib saw her name on the screen when Ellen DeGeneres listed the 100 teachers in the United States she had chosen to receive $250 Visa gift cards in recognition of the extra work they have done during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was sobbing because I love Ellen, and I just think she is so kind and she loves teachers,” said Staib, describing her reaction to seeing her name on her television screen. 

DeGeneres had asked people to nominate teachers who have gone the extra mile and invited teachers to write in and describe the work that they had been doing during the remote learning resulting from the pandemic response nationwide. 

Staib, 31, wrote in describing her work with eighth-graders who are testing below grade level and struggling to learn. She even deliberately fell off her bicycle in a video shot by her fiancé to demonstrate how gravity works to her students.

Staib is using money to buy end of the school year gifts for her students, something that she was going to do anyway. Staib, who is finishing up her sixth year teaching at Hauser, is known for going the extra mile for her students. 

She has a Zoom meeting with her students every morning and is in contact with her students remotely every day. She will even call her students to check in with them, making sure they are doing their work and checking to see if they need any extra help.

“Caitlin Staib is an extraordinary teacher who goes the extra mile for her kids,” said Hauser Junior High Principal April Mahy in an email. “She is an advocate for students and helps students gain independence. … Our students are so lucky to have Ms. Staib in their corner and working with them.”

Staib had to record the “Ellen” show on May 14, because she was helping a student with homework at 3 p.m., when the show airs. She watched it an hour later and got the surprise of her life.

She has been a fan of Ellen for nearly 20 years.

“She’s like my favorite person ever,” Staib said. “She could have given me a penny and I would have been happy.”