Marshall Middle School teacher Sandy Carpenter has been named as a regional honoree in the WEM Foundation's 2014 Outstanding Educator Awards program.
Carpenter is being honored in the Teacher Achievement category, which recognizes exemplary teachers who support, inspire and assist students to attain greater learning, as evidenced by student achievement. Carpenter has been teaching for 11 years, and currently teaches eighth-grade social studies. She was nominated by MMS Principal Mary Kay Thomas.
"I don't teach for awards," Carpenter said. "Obviously, I teach for the students. But what was nice was that they brought up... I have a friend whose child is in my class, and her son talked about some of the things we did in class, how he was challenged to move above and beyond. That's what I want to do. I don't want to teach social studies or history. I want to teach students how to love learning. That's what I'm here for."
Carpenter is active as a peer coach (PC) in a Professional Learning Community (PLC). As a PC for her middle school's social studies PLC, Carpenter develops agendas, documents minutes, facilitates weekly meetings and attends monthly PC trainings.
In her classroom students create their own project proposals through the use of an online project building tool. She believes active engagement along with ownership of their learning leads to success. Students determine their objective, set up the plan for successful completion and create a self-assessment tool that will measure the level of mastery.
Carpenter said she believes if teachers give students the tools to learn they can figure out their own problems.
"You can give them the tools to say, 'Hey, where do I want to go to school, go to college or do next?' as opposed to us saying this is what you have to learn. This is the box you are in," she said.
In addition to teaching, Carpenter set up a homework help program at the school. Through this program she provides interventions for their most at-risk students while using their most gifted individuals to challenge all populations with teaching and learning. The program provides students an additional opportunity to find success in their academic achievement and develops students into peer mentors.
Honorees are also recognized with the Ethics in Education Award (exemplary educators who embody ethical behavior and promote ethical development for students through classroom or school activities, policies or curriculum) and with the Academic Challenge Coach Award (classroom teachers who are exemplary coaches of student teams that participate and compete in academic challenges endorsed by the Minnesota Academic League Council).
Educators are first nominated for the WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program by students, parents, colleagues or community members. Those who accept the nomination provide additional information for consideration by Synergy & Leadership Exchange and a blue ribbon selection panel, which reviews and ranks the nominees.