IWU Graduate Is Indiana’s Teacher of the Year!

September 15, 2006

A ‘way cool’ teacher

3rd-graders in Fishers cheer Indiana‘s pick for Teacher of the Year

By Melanie D. Hayes melanie.d.hynes@ carmelstar.com

FISHERS, Ind. — Taking a test while lying on the floor is nothing unusual for students in Anna Shults’ third-grade class at Fall Creek Elementary School.

Sometimes they sit on a windowsill during exams, or rest on a pillow.

Indiana‘s 2007 Teacher of the Year believes a relaxed atmosphere eases students’ minds so they can do their best.

Shults’ creative ways — she also makes up rap songs to help students remember spelling words and organizes scavenger hunts for geometrical shapes — helped propel the 31-year-old educator to the status of Indiana’s top teacher Thursday.

Students and colleagues, however, also cited Shults’ caring ways.

“Sometimes she gives us extra recess when we are good,” said Haley Butler, 8. “She is pretty and the best teacher in the world!”

Shults is now Indiana‘s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year honor, to be presented in the spring in Washington.

Shults was chosen from 47 educators from public and private schools across Indiana. The award was presented during a surprise assembly in the school gym.

Shults went to the gymnasium with other teachers and students, thinking she’d hear a seminar by an education expert.

But the program quickly turned into big cheers for Shults as Suellen Reed, state superintendent of public instruction, presented $1,000 from Indiana Farm Bureau and scholarship offers from Ball State, Indiana and Indiana State universities.

“For this teacher, teaching is not just a career or a job — it’s a passion,” Reed said.

“At the end of the school year, she has her students write a letter to the students who will be in her class next year. Some of the letters said she is ‘way cool.’ They said she is flexible, caring, energetic, accepting of all students. Some said she was ‘goofy,’ ” Reed said, then chuckled.

Shults joined Fall Creek Elementary as a student teacher in 1996 and has been there ever since.

The Chicago native said she likes to be creative so children will make the most of their lessons and want more knowledge.

“Every student learns in his or her own little way, and it’s my job to tap into that,” she said. “I try to make each activity meaningful.”

Shults cannot recall a dull moment as a teacher.

“Every day is different. I feed off the enthusiasm and excitement of kids and just the ability to do what I love,” she said. “It’s an everyday passion that is extremely rewarding.”

Shults’ husband, Brian, teaches science at Fishers High School in the Hamilton Southeastern district. While he likes teaching teens, she prefers instructing third-graders.

“Their minds are like little sponges,” she said. “They are on fire to learn. And they are not into cliques and popularity.

“And, selfishly thinking, they still think their teacher is cool.”

Call Star reporter Melanie D. Hayes at (317) 444-2613.



Age: 31.

Job: Third-grade teacher at Fall Creek Elementary in Fishers. She’s been there since 1996, starting as a student teacher.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in 1997 from Anderson University; master’s degree in 2000 from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Family: Married husband, Brian, in 1997. He teaches science at Fishers High School.

Teaching tips

Three tips from Anna Shults, Indiana‘s 2007 Teacher of the Year, on teaching children:

• Know what makes students tick, their likes and dislikes.

• Convey to students that they are most important to you.

• Accept the fact that each student learns differently.


Copyright 2006 IndyStar.com. All rights reserved

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