Teacher earning national acclaim
Published: January 18, 2007 | 5323rd good news item since 2003
It has been an eventful few months for Andrea Peterson.
In October, she was named the state’s Teacher of the Year.
Last Friday, the state’s schools superintendent informed her she has been selected as one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year.
In March, she will give birth to her first child, who has been named Faith.
And in April, she will be in Washington, D.C., with the other national finalists and state winners, where she is expected to meet President Bush.
All of which is a little hard to comprehend for the Monte Cristo Elementary School music teacher.
“Even when I was nominated at the district level, regional level and state level, the first thing that would go through my mind is ‘I can think of 10 teachers right off the top of my mind who are better teachers than I am,'” she said.
The National Teacher of the Year program began in 1952 and is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers. The winner is released from classroom duties for a year to represent the teaching profession.
A panel representing the 15 largest national education organizations chose the finalists.
Peterson doesn’t see the award as meaning the winner is the best teacher in the country. Rather, she said, it’s an effort to find an effective voice for education.
Letters supporting her nomination were full of praise.
“Our elementary students’ musical knowledge exceeds that of high school students in other districts,” wrote Granite Falls Superintendent Joel Thaut. “Their performances in the building and out in the community have become legendary.”
Peterson works hard to find out what is being taught at each grade level, and she caters her lessons to the classroom curriculum.
That often means writing music and encouraging students to write scripts, compose music and perform. Recent works included S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” and Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”
“I admire Andrea’s cross-cultural approach to education,” said state Superintendent Terry Bergeson. “Even as a music specialist, she incorporates other subjects into her classroom to help students learn about music in a much larger context.”
Peterson said music is a particularly effective tool to help struggling students succeed.
“Innately, every child and every adult is a musician,” she said. “They may be performers, composers … or listeners of music, but every human being has an inborn desire to participate in music. It is how we are made.”