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Tara Amsterdam

Teacher, Wilbur Elementary School

“For anyone who is interested in getting involved in education, I would prepare them to work harder than they ever thought possible but to know that the rewards from teaching are immeasurable.”

Education has been an important part of my life since birth. I come from a family of educators as both my parents and grandparents are educators. From an early age, I learned to respect and value education, and as I grew, my parents fostered a love for learning through example. They always encouraged me to try my best and make my education a priority. The joy of encouraging students to challenge themselves, reach goals they didn’t think were possible, and creating a community where learning is fostered through mutual respect is what makes this job the most satisfying job out there.

We have a wide range of needs at Wilbur Elementary. We have many students who receive free or reduced lunch. Some students come from working class families where parents are struggling to make ends meet. Others come from low income housing where there is widespread violence and drugs. We also have students who speak little English. I have taught students from various cultural backgrounds including Mexican, Indian, and Vietnamese. We also have some families who are well off. This varying population makes it essential to personalize learning. Everyone comes to class with a different background and experiences, but it is my job to help challenge each and every one to reach their full potential.

Over the past fourteen years, I have developed an extensive repertoire of technology skills, which has enabled me to seamlessly integrate technology into every subject area. Three years ago, I was selected as the only elementary representative on the committee formed by Colonial School District to develop and implement a one-to-one technology initiative. Every day in my class, I model how to integrate technology into every subject area and incorporate higher-level thinking. In order to make the most out of instructional time, I have used the flipped classroom model. This allows me to deliver instruction at home on video and work one-on-one or in targeted small groups during the day, ultimately personalizing learning. In my room, students publish their writing on a wiki. Through this, they are able to collaborate with one another. Students regularly turn in digital assignments and create digital animations and screencast videos to demonstrate their learning or tell a story. Two years ago, I created a YouTube channel dedicated to my instruction. Initially, I created the videos for my students, but over the course of the year the videos have reached a larger audience than I ever imagined!

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