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Shooting Stars


'Teacher of the Year' humbled by nomination, honor



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Beth Rogers, with her fifth-grade class at Springfield Plains Elementary, was selected Teacher of the Year. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
May 15, 2013 - The first emotion Springfield Plains Elementary fifth grade teacher Beth Rogers felt was shock when her name was announced.

She stood up after Michael Page made the announcement at the Clarkston Foundation Teacher of the Year Awards Reception at Fountains, May 2.

"It is very humbling to be nominated with amazing teachers," Rogers smiled. "Winning was just a shock, an honor and amazing."

The Clarkston Foundation had 13 nominees from the elementary level. Rogers and two of her colleagues, Heidi Kroll and Kerry Whaley, represented Springfield Plains.

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"It makes you feel humble to just be part of that group," Rogers added. "You look at all the amazing educators you work with and to have someone lift you up in that way is just such an honor. It's kind of hard to take in almost but it is a wonderful feeling."

Her students Spencer Wittebot and Cali Ehrenberger weren't surprised since to them she was already teacher of the year.

"She definitely deserved it," said Ehrenberger. "She has tried to make learning fun for us and for the whole school. She inspired me to write in detail. It's something we have in common. She can sit down and write a story like I can. She has really inspired me to do what I love."

"She's a good teacher," Wittebot added. "She taught me to dig deeper in my thinking."

Ehrenberger and Wittebot also enjoyed the way they become more engaged by learning from Rogers. When they were learning about the Revolutionary War instead of reading how the British and colonists responded - they acted out the different sides and how each side felt about the war.

"We talked back to the colonists and got into a fake argument," said Ehrenberger. She made it fun instead of reading to us."

Nancy Mahoney, principal at Springfield Plains also wasn't surprised but admitted it was still emotional to find out Rogers won.

"I knew she was awesome," Mahoney said. "But when it comes down to six finalists - they are all awesome. I was so happy for her and her family."

She added Rogers stands out because of her relationships with her students.

"She really reaches out to kids," Mahoney thoughtfully said, adding Rogers has delivered a bed to a family, bought coats and boots for students needing them. "She really taps into when kids aren't feeling good about themselves. We had some kids struggle with being adopted or struggle with esteem. She really reaches out to kids."

Ehrenberger agreed and added Rogers has helped with situations happening out of school.

"She helps when struggling with friends," she said. "She always cheers us up and makes us feel better. I can definitely take that and always remember her."

Mahoney added Rogers is a leader at Springfield Plains and is innovative in curriculum and lesson planning. She uses technology as a tool to help her students learn more with blogging, skyping, google docs, presentations and videos. Rogers is also on Cultures of Thinking and is always thinking of new ideas.

Rogers decided to be a teacher while she was young and in elementary school. She practiced from the time she was in first grade by playing school and never stopped.

"I remember talking to my teachers about wanting to be a teacher," she said. "It was an ambition that never left. I am so blessed to do this."

She chose to teach at the elementary level because of the connections she had with her own elementary teacher.

Now her connections with her students keep her motivated as she approaches each new day.

"You are constantly motivated with the kids," Rogers smiled. "What is it going to take for them to have that spark of learning and to get that thinking going? Then you have the moments when they come to you and they get it. They are articulating what they are thinking. You are like 'yes, yes, this is what I want.' Or think this one isn't quite there, what can I do? They constantly motivate you to do what you do and keep refining it and doing better. I love what I do. I love my job and it doesn't feel like work."

With summer vacation just around the corner, Rogers will spend her time gardening, watching birds and reading a lot of books for the her classroom book clubs.

Last summer she spent most of her time reading historical fiction about the Revolutionary War.

She explained she wanted the students to read books in their social studies curriculum and be able to talk to them about what they read.

"I read a few adult books but a block of my summer reading is kids books," Rogers smiled.

Now the initial reaction has worn off and the shock has turned into happiness.

"It's a great experience overall – celebrating with family, with colleagues and friends," Rogers smiled. "It feels like you are walking on air. Some have asked have you come down yet? I am not sure."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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