Award-winning teacher shares experiences

Alyssa Conner

Andrea Peterson, 2007 National Teacher of the Year winner spoke to a group of students, teachers and professionals in the Kiva last night about her road to becoming a teacher. TRACY TUCHOLSKI | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

National Teacher of the Year award winner Andrea Peterson visited Kent State yesterday to speak about the importance of teacher and student relationships not only inside the classrooms, but also within the community.

More than a hundred students, staff and faculty filled the Kiva.

“Success in teaching doesn’t come easy,” Peterson said. “I think about teaching, and teaching isn’t about making every parent happy; it’s instead about serving others.”

Peterson stressed that serving children and communities with grace and love is what teaching is really about.

She spoke about personal experiences with teachers and students of her own that have effected her teaching career.

“The success in my life is largely due to those relationships with teachers I had early on,” Peterson said. “We must develop relationships with America’s youth first, thereby discovering what is relevant to them.”

Peterson focused her speech on rigor, relevance and relationships, and how all three of the R’s contribute to one another and can be conquered together.

“Once we understand them, we can teach them to work hard, to concentrate, to really think about their learning,” she said. “The rigor of that results will be astounding.”

Peterson said many of her students come to school with little to no experience with achievement – no one has ever taken the time to get to know them, figure out what makes them tick or encourage them to learn.

“However I do believe that American schools can overcome those challenges,” she said. “With the help of our communities we can provide our nation’s children with relationship-filled, relevant environments that will achieve rigor.”

Erin Tregoning, senior music education major, said she related to the speech because she knows she will encounter similar situations in her career.

Peterson ended with an analogy about a student orchestra member who didn’t show up to a concert.

“You are an important player in this orchestra we call education. Your voice must be heard,” she said. “Every teacher, every parent, every community member must come together to achieve relationship, relevance and rigor in America’s schools. Our children are really our great masterpiece waiting to be presented to the audience.

“Simply stated, we all need to show up to the concert.”

Contact College of Education, Human and Health Services reporter Alyssa Conner at [email protected].