Amanda Jez uses creative teaching methods to reach all students and engage them effectively.
Jez teaches third-grade at Eads Elementary School in Munster.
"I like third-grade because they are independent and like to talk about what they're learning so I try to incorporate that as much as I can," she said. "The kids learn from each other. When a student explains to the class how they understood the concept or how they attacked a problem, what strategy they used, you can see even weeks later, a student apply a different strategy," she said.
Students work on writing, math and daily journals.
"Kids put their responses to a topic we're learning about or solutions to problems in their daily journals and they have that as a springboard to discussing strategies they're using.
"It's hard for kids to get up and talk but if they have that journal in front of them it's very helpful and they rise to the challenge," she added.
Jez incorporates cooperative learning, body movements and "probably too much singing" in teaching. "I remember through songs so we make up a lot of songs to things we're learning about," she said. Jez engages students in role-playing, readers theater and group activities as well.
Hands-on activities introduce concepts in science and Jez introduces new vocabulary through poems and songs.
"The most fun is when you give kids a set of vocabulary terms and they brainstorm to put them to song tunes and that's their challenge to come up with a song and teach the class," she said.
She volunteers to do choreography for the winter and spring music programs and she and fellow teacher JoAnn Harveth lead students twice a week before school in brain-based exercise and dance in a program they call Moving and Grooving mornings.
Jez and her husband, Michael, live in Munster and have a daughter Emma, 5. They are expecting a second child in July. Jez earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Indiana University in Bloomington and a master's in administration and supervision at Chicago State University. She also is a national board certified middle childhood generalist.
"I love Eads. It's really a warm and friendly environment and the best thing is my past principal and current principal are both very open to out-of-the-box teaching strategies," she said. "So I'm never nervous if we're up singing or dancing. They see the value in creating a fun educational environment because it keeps the kids motivated and they see their success."
To nominate someone for this feature, email email@example.com.