“Teaching is one of the most difficult things I have ever done,” said Washington Irving Elementary School’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, Amanda Brett. “However, it is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”
A third grade teacher, Brett is in her fifth year of teaching, and it has all been at Washington Irving.
She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2015 and is currently pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“I will graduate this December with a master’s degree in reading with the hope of becoming a certified reading specialist,” Brett said.
Brett said she comes from a family of educators including her mother and her grandmother.
“I have always loved working with kids. I chose to be a teacher because I wanted to be a positive role model to kids and teach them to love learning,” Brett said.
A Christian, Brett said her faith is a “huge reason” why she went into education.
“My faith is what drives my passion for education,” Brett said.
She said teaching is a ministry and she believes that God has called her to this job.
“I believe that every child who walks into my classroom has been placed there for a reason,” Brett said. “I want each student to feel loved, encouraged and safe in my classroom.”
The rewarding moments always outweigh the tough days, Brett said.
“It makes me so happy to see my students excited about learning in the classroom,” Brett added.
Her favorite subject to teach is reading.
“One of my favorite things to incorporate into my reading instruction is ‘read alouds.’” Brett said. “I like to read my favorite children’s novels to teach and model fluency. It makes me so happy when I see my students engaged in these books. One time, I had to stop reading at a ‘cliffhanger,’ and my class told me they would be willing to give up recess if we could keep reading. It’s those small moments of seeing students excited about learning that makes me smile the most.”
One of her favorite quotes is, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” by Margaret Fuller.
“Education is laying the foundation of lifelong skills that all children need. I believe education is important because these kids are the future of society,” Brett said. “Education is a tool for building up individuals to problem solve, think critically, and be creative. Education also gives children confidence to face the world and be successful.”
Each day is started with a morning meeting. During this time Brett creates a safe and positive culture.
“We greet each other, have share time, do community building games/activities, and talk about news for the day,” Brett said. “Then I spend the majority of the morning doing reading instruction through small groups, centers, whole group lessons, and word study. In the afternoon, I teach math, science, writing and grammar.”
Brett said she hopes to teach her students how to treat each other with respect.
“I hope my students learn how to respect and be kind to others, especially those who might be different than them,” Brett said. “I also want my students to learn to become problem solvers and have a strong work ethic in all they do. I hope my students leave my classroom with curiosity and a desire to be a lifelong learner.”
She has learned that all students are different and they all learn in different ways.
“My students have also taught me patience, flexibility and the importance of forming strong relationships,” Brett said. “I think the biggest lesson I have learned from my students is to never give up. Some days are harder than others, but I am encouraged by the fact that every morning is new and provides an opportunity for a fresh start.”
Brett believes all students need to learn and they are all capable of learning.
“However, I do not think there is one best method for teaching all students. Each student is unique, and learns differently,” Brett said. “Therefore, students need to be presented with information in a variety of ways to appeal to visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. I believe that students need to be active participants in their learning. Lessons should allow students to be actively involved in hands-on experiences. It should also give students opportunities to have meaningful discussions and ask questions.”
In her spare time Brett loves to travel and experience new cultures, cities and countries. She also loves to run, read and attend Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma City Thunder sporting events. She is a member of Frontline Church in downtown Oklahoma City.