School: Fred Becker Elementary School
School System: Waterloo Community Schools
Subject and Grade Level: K – 5 Music Teacher
Education: BA from University of Iowa, MA from University of Illinois, PhD from University of Illinois
Hobbies: I enjoy gardening, taking bike rides, collecting and listening to records, and writing/playing music with friends.
Family Members: Mila (daughter) and Ruth (daughter)
How long have you been teaching: I first started teaching middle school band in 2002, and I have taught at varying levels from college to kindergarten since then.
The Thing You Like Most About Teaching: I love that my job is to make music with kids! Their enthusiasm and energy is contagious, and their creativity and imagination is boundless if a teacher knows how to make them feel supported and encouraged. And, of course, the hugs from students are always a great encouragement, especially at the end of a challenging day.
The Thing You Find Most Challenging About Teaching: I have over 550 students in my school, so creating strong relationships with each and every student in the building can be very challenging. However, I also get to work with each student for multiple years, and it’s amazing to see each one growing and learning from grade to grade.
Best Tip for New Teachers: Nurturing a positive relationship with every student is the key to having a successful classroom. They need to know that you care about them and their learning. Even though my time is limited with students throughout the week, I try to devote a little time in each class to sharing about what has been going on both in my life and theirs, so that we are always building a trusting community in the classroom.
Best Tip for Career Teachers: Always be learning! My favorite lessons this year have been ones that I learned recently at workshops or conferences and modified to work for my classroom. Continually honing our craft, learning new teaching strategies, and reflecting on what went well and what could be improved for future years is what teaching is all about.
Favorite Piece of Advice for Students: If you expect the best from yourself, you will achieve great things.
What Being a Gold Star Teacher Means to You: What a fantastic surprise! I am very honored and humbled that students took the time to nominate me, and it inspires me to keep striving to be a better teacher.