Lovell Elementary School fourth grade teacher Teri Winland was named teacher of the year by the Wyoming Department of Education for the school year 2012-13. Winland was nominated for the distinguished honor by her peers at LES and by the school’s administrators and recognized for this honor by Big Horn County School District No. 2 board of directors at their regularly scheduled meeting held on Monday night.
Being named Wyoming Teacher of the Year comes with an enormous responsibility, because the teacher represents not only her district but the entire profession in Wyoming as well. According to the guidelines set forth by the WDE, the teacher must inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn. She must have the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues. She must play an active and useful role in the community, as well as in the school. She is expected to be poised and articulate, have the energy to withstand a busy schedule and to demonstrate high levels of academic achievement for her students. According to Lovell Elementary School Principal Cheri Hoffman, Winland meets all of these requirements and more.
“I think the thing that is the most outstanding about Teri is her love for her students,” said Hoffman. “She genuinely knows each child and their family and what they need and she makes sure she knows what that child needs to succeed in her classroom. She’s gentle, she’s patient and she’s funny. She has the cutest sense of humor with the kids and they really respond to her because of it.
“She’s served in a leadership capacity in our school for years. She’s on what we call the building leadership team, which guides our accreditation process and evaluates student data.
“She’s been on our building intervention team for about seven years and is a very active member, providing insights to parents and ideas for how we can help students at school and at home.
“Teri is our building cheerleader. When we’re down or feeling discouraged, she is the one who comes up with something to make us laugh and to lift us up. She’s a lot of fun to work with and has mentored many of our teachers. She’s a true support to me and I don’t know what I’d do without her. Her honesty and integrity means a lot to me. She’s truly amazing and we are blessed to have her here.”
Winland has been a fourth grade teacher at LES for 21 years. Though she has taught only at LES her entire career, she said she never finds it boring and certainly not repetitious.
“It changes so much every year,” said Winland. “The content is the same but the approach is different. We are always developing new ways to teach writing, math and science. We always look for better and new ways to approach things and new ways to keep the kids engaged and involved.”
Winland loves her work and said she especially enjoys working with fourth-graders.
“Being with the kids, with great colleagues, teaching the fourth grade content and in our building is phenomenal,” said Winland. “Cheri works hard at making it fun for us, and I look forward to coming to work every day. All of our teachers work well together and Cheri is a strong leader. She gives us a lot of support and makes us feel like we matter.”
Winland said she has seen many changes over the years. She said she has seen the family “dynamic” change over the years and additional demands placed on the school.
“We wear many hats now,” she explained. “There are a lot of demands on the school right now. Sometimes we need to provide students with things like food and help them with their social skills. This is not a business. It is not a cookie cutter environment. Each student is unique and has different needs. I think it’s important to have high expectations for kids. Most of the time, they will try to meet those expectations. They will rise to the occasion, but you have to develop a good rapport first and get them on your team.”
Winland said she thinks Big Horn County is a great place to teach because of the many resources that abound in the area.
“We live in such a great spot to teach local history,” said Winland. “We have tipi rings, the buffalo jump and I can’t think of a better place to teach about minerals than the state of Wyoming.”
By Patti Carpenter