MSTA is honored to recognize Amanda Wyatt as one of 15 members who were named 2022 Regional Teachers of the Year by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Committees comprised of education peers and key stakeholders from each Regional Professional Development Center (RPDC) in Missouri selected the 2022 Regional Teachers of the Year.
School building: Forder Elementary
District: Mehlville School District
Grade level: English Learners k-5
Subject: co-teach in math, writing, science, social studies
Number of years teaching: 9
When did you know you picked the right career? I wasn’t always sure teaching was right for me. It took me many years to find a teaching position and I was about to give up and find another career. But then I found my place at Forder which was certainly the best fit. I have loved every minute working there. My first year I taught kindergarten. That year I had a handful of students who did not know English. Seeing the progress, they made and their language continue to develop was the most rewarding experience I could have asked for. I enjoyed co-teaching with the English Learner teacher that year as well. She became my permanent mentor and eventually my teammate when I became an English learner teacher.
If I asked your colleagues, what would they say about you? My colleagues would say I am always there to jump in and help in any way possible. They know I am there for our students and will try my best to offer support. They see me as someone with multiple ideas to support content. Thankfully they trust me and are willing to try something new when the opportunity arises.
What makes you eager to start a new semester or new year? I love the beginning of the school year. It’s a time when I get to see my students again. I am fortunate to follow my students from kindergarten through 5th grade. I enjoy making those connections with their families. Seeing them after being away for summer I realize they have grown so much. I am excited to be with them again and watch them grow academically from where they were the previous year. What new hobby or activity have you tried lately? I enjoy building puzzles. It is something I can do that actually allows my mind to disconnect from school. I was excited because I recently had a puzzle table built. My cat is notorious for stealing my puzzle pieces. This table allows me to put my puzzle away safely in a drawer until I’m ready to start puzzling again.
Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself as a first-year teacher? The advice I would give myself as a first-year teacher would be to have patience with myself. When it’s your first year you want to jump in and do everything. But this just isn’t realistic. I would reflect and harp on the missed opportunities. But then I began to write these ideas down and added them to my plans for the following year. I still do this. We can only be better than we were the day before. Every year there is a chance to learn something new. However, that doesn’t mean you will get to it that year. This is ok. Keep these plans some place you’ll see them and come back to them later.
What is the best book you’ve read recently? There are three books that stand out that I’ve read recently, Refugee, Zlata’s Diary and Front Desk. These books are important to me because they share stories of what it’s like to leave your home country for whatever reason and experience life in another country. I think it is important that everyone, not just teachers, spend time listening and reading stories like these. In order to grow we need to take a moment to understand someone else’s point of view and experiences. Empathy can be one of our greatest supports.
What is the best piece of advice another teacher has given to you? One aspect I love about my role as an English learner teacher is co-teaching. In order to best meet my student’s needs in their least restrictive environment I provide support within the classroom. To accomplish this, I spend time collaborating with my classroom teachers. While co-teaching benefits my students, and the other students in the classroom, it is also a benefit to me. Co-teaching has been some of the best professional development for me. I have learned so much from my teachers from being in class with them. It can be challenging trying to work collaboratively