Arizona Teacher of Year Addresses FEA Meeting
By Doug Carroll
The 2011 Arizona Teacher of the Year told Friday’s second day of the Future Educators Association state conference that a teacher has an opportunity to affect eternity.
Amanda McAdams, a former practicing attorney, now teaches English and student government at Apollo High School in Glendale. She was named Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Educational Foundation.
“It starts with you,” McAdams told nearly 500 high school students assembled in the North Gym for the morning’s general session. “It starts with leaving a positive message and a positive memory in students’ minds.”McAdams told of a student named Jesse, who brought a defiant attitude to the first day of school.
“I knew I’d have to get into his head,” she said. “Through the year, he needed some special help, and we worked together on that. He improved and started to make some friends.”
On the last day of school, in a ritual wrap-up exercise described by McAdams as a “goodbye circle,” Jesse broke down in tears.
“He told me I was the first adult who had told him he was worth something and thought he could go somewhere in life,” McAdams said, asking the students to think of a teacher who had given them similar inspiration.
McAdams also encouraged the students to make connections with their teaching peers along the way to setting up their first classroom. It takes a support system to succeed, she said.
“That helps build the best package,” she said. “You are the future of Arizona. You hold the future of our state in your hands.”
Breakout sessions Friday were led by a number of faculty and staff from GCU, including Tacy Ashby, Lisa Aaroe, Kim Sims, Mori Kemper, Kat Valdivia, Nicole Porter, Brenda Combs, Casey Reason, Marjaneh Gilpatrick and Sheila Unwin.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.