Teachers of the Year: Amy Anderson
Amy Anderson, Buckeye Woods Elementary School, South-Western City School District
Buckeye Woods Elementary School teacher Amy Anderson believes engaging her students is the key to educating them.
“I try to make the classroom a fun place to be,” she said. “I want it to be a place they want to come to every day. If they're having fun, they are more likely to be learning.
“I'll often use a sports theme and I'll be the coach, athlete and cheerleader,” the third-grade teacher said. “I have my pompoms to help cheer my students on.”
She also has a song for her students almost every day. “That's my big thing—I can come up with a song about everything,” she said. “For math, we did a ‘Math Macarena' to learn about geometry.”
Jennifer O'Bryan knows firsthand the impact Anderson's methods can have on a student, and it led her to nominate Anderson for theColumbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News Teachers of the Year award. Anderson, who was named the elementary school winner, was honored at a May 18 assembly at the school. O'Bryan's son, Alex, was in Anderson's class five years ago. “He was struggling a bit the first two years and school wasn't a place he really wanted to be,” O'Bryan said. “But Mrs. Anderson made learning fun and he began to look forward to going to school.
“He's going into eighth grade now, and he still has her picture up in his room,” O'Bryan said. “He adored her and she's still an inspiration and influence on him to this day. What more can you say about a teacher?”
Andrea Chaffin's son, Connor, spent the past school year in Anderson's class. Chaffin, who also nominated Anderson, served as a volunteer in the classroom. “She's an amazing teacher,” Chaffin said. “The way she comes up with different themes for her lessons, she's always trying to put a fun spin on things. It helps keep her students engaged.
“I told Mrs. Anderson that if he could, my son would bottle her up and take her with him to fourth grade,” Chaffin said. “I feel so lucky to have her impact my son's academics. She's left her mark on him.”
Anderson, 44, has taught most of her 22-year career in the South-Western City School District, including the past 11 years at Buckeye Woods. Before that, she taught at the district's Finland Middle School and Alton Hall Elementary School. She began her career teaching in Cleveland.
She originally intended to become a youth minister. “I made the change in college,” Anderson said. “I realized I loved the chance teaching would give to be able to impact children on a daily basis.
“Teaching was the right choice for me,” she said. “It's not just my career—it's my passion.”
For Anderson, the best part of teaching is making a connection with her students. The biggest change over her career has been the increased emphasis on standardized testing at the elementary school level, she said. “Especially with something like the third-grade reading guarantee, that's a lot of stress to be putting on 8- and 9-year-olds, and they do feel that pressure,” she said.
Anderson earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1994 from Capital University and a master's degree in the art of teaching and learning in 2001 from Nova Southeastern University. She and her husband, Kyle, live in Dublin with their three children, ages 19, 11 and 6.
“I became a better teacher after becoming a mother,” Anderson said. “It helped me understand what parents were looking for. Teachers and parents both want the same thing for students, but it comes from different perspectives.”
Buckeye Woods Principal Jenniffer Kauffeld said the care and concern Anderson has for her students as individuals shines through in her teaching. “Amy has such a positive impact on her students. She brings a sense of fun to everything she does in the classroom,” Kauffeld said.
“I was truly honored to win this award, but I know I'm just part of an amazing team of teachers at Buckeye Woods,” Anderson said.