Trela Rottinghaus

George Washington Carver Academy

City/School System
Waterloo Community Schools

Subjects and Grade Level
8th Grade Language Arts

What’s the thing you like most about teaching?
Believe it or not, the middle schoolers. 🙂

What’s the thing you find most challenging about teaching?
The middle schoolers! But they’re truly challenging in a good way … my job is never boring, which is why I love it.

Best tip for new teachers?
You HAVE to love this job. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.

Best tip for career teachers?
I keep a “happy book,” a collection of notes and random “stuff” kids and parents and other teachers have given me over the years. On my worst days it’s the first thing I reach for to revitalize me for the next day. (On really bad days I take it home so I don’t unleash my wrath on my husband and kids.) And yes, my Gold Star nominations are definitely in it.

Favorite piece of advice for students?
My favorite piece of advice for anyone: Carpe Diem. It’s embroidered on a chair in my classroom. At the beginning of the year it’s a conversation piece because the kids don’t know what it means. By the end of the year they could tell you the literal definition and what it means to them.

What does being a Gold Star Teacher mean to you?
When I was being treated for cancer several years ago, I remember sitting in the chemotherapy chair reading the paper in which that year’s Gold Star Teachers were announced. At a time in my life when I was afraid to make future plans, I distinctly remember making the Gold Star my professional goal. Surviving cancer has made me focus on being better in all aspects of my life – the shiny star hanging in my classroom validated me then and reminds me now of the person that I choose to be.