Last week, schools across Iowa celebrated American Education Week, and the Shenandoah Education Association presented the 2022 Teacher of the Year and Friend of Education awards during a ceremony held on Nov. 16.
SHS Alumni Amy Bopp was the recipient of this year’s Teacher of the Year award. Once a student in the Shenandoah Community School District, Bopp said it has been fun for her to return to the district as a teacher and have the opportunity to educate the children and grandchildren of former classmates. She said those connections have been invaluable.
Bopp has been teaching in the Shenandoah Community School District for 26 years. During her career here in Shenandoah, she taught third-grade students all but one year in which she taught second-grade. Before accepting a full-time position in Shenandoah, Bopp substitute taught for two years.
“I absolutely love teaching third graders because they are developing a richer vocabulary to express themselves verbally and in their writing,” Bopp said. “They are able to grasp abstract ideas and can collaborate with their classmates to share their thinking.
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“Third graders are becoming increasingly independent and their personalities start to reveal themselves with the daily choices they make. They are able to enjoy word play with similes, idioms, and multiple meaning words. Third graders love to tell jokes!”
It wasn’t until after she started college at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, with an undecided major that Bopp decided to pursue the education field. While taking a variety of different classes, she happened upon an Intro to Education class.
Bopp said it was because of that class she decided to major in elementary education.
“The professor was so knowledgeable about educational issues and laws that affect education that I wanted to become an advocate for students in some way,” she said.
Growing up in Shenandoah, Bopp considered school a “positive place for learning and socializing.”
“Education was emphasized in my own family growing up because it was an extension of the community,” Bopp said. “The teachers were involved in the community in various ways so that they knew the families and students well.”
Collaboration was at the top of Bopp’s list when asked what she has enjoyed about the education field.
“There are numerous decisions made in planning lessons for a wide range of student abilities, so the collaboration between teachers is critical,” Bopp said. “I love the exchange of ideas because it sparks another idea and this is very evident when students are sharing their thinking. I try to have my students collaborate with one another often and practice their critical thinking skills. They have wonderful ideas that they are very eager to share with others.”
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, try new ideas and have an open mind, are the first pieces of advice Bopp said she would give teachers just starting out. Observing colleagues in the classroom setting, she feels, is also helpful for new teachers.
Bopp said she was honored to be the recipient of the 2022 Teacher of the Year.
“I have the privilege to work alongside and observe many talented educators everyday that are willing to share their expertise with me,” Bopp said. “My teaching is a compilation of all those teachers that I have either had as a student or as a colleague in the SCSD. They have a passion for this profession and for the students they serve. They are noticed and appreciated by me.”
Each year when the SEA looks through the nominees for the Teacher of the Year award, representatives say they look for a leader who is respected, hard working, has dignity, is caring, helpful and supportive.
In the nomination letter the SEA received for Bopp, it said, “She has been a teacher, coach, and advocate of the educational system from which she graduated.” It continued, saying that Bopp “is an avid learner, who embraces instructional strategies and research that have been proven effective and implements those practices into her classroom.”
The letter described Bopp as a teacher with high expectations but who “knows no limits in helping her students succeed.” The letter said Bopp was committed to “strengthening the district” and mentoring students.
Other 2022 Teacher of the Year Award nominees were Mary Peterson, Ty Ratliff, Amy Toye, Angie Trowbridge, Abby Weinrich and Crystal Wittmer.
The SEA awarded the 2022 Friend of Education to Shenandoah Medical Center. The nomination letter said SMC supports and promotes the Shenandoah Community School District and “education opportunities for children.”
Each year SMC offers free sports physicals for students and purchases licenses to enable students to take ImPACT Testing. ImPACT Testing is a concussion tool. SMC also is a team dinner and athletic event sponsor. The letter went on to read that SMC “has provided education opportunities in terms of guest speakers, job shadows, internships, registered apprenticeships and provided CPR training for staff.”
Other nominees for the Friend of Education Award was County Line Design.