This year, students and teachers alike have scrambled to learn new technology and adapt to a different learning environment all while staying positive. Math teacher Elizabeth Atkinson has won teacher of the year for this exact reason.
“It was definitely a big honor, definitely a surprise, but it made me feel very valued and appreciated. Especially this year because I think all the teachers have had ups and downs. We’ve felt success, and then we felt like the worst teacher ever when things hadn’t gone well,” Atkinson said.
While the life of every teacher was made harder by the COVID-19 lockdown, Atkinsons duties extended well beyond the classroom. She is the department chair for math, which means that along with expanding her teaching abilities, she had to help other teachers broaden theirs as well.
“This is the first year that I have been the department leader by myself so I have tried to model for my teachers. I never ask them to do anything that I’m not doing myself,” Atkinson said. “This year has been like being a first year teacher again. We’re at the beginning with all the technology and what not, and I’m not great at it but at least I’ll ask the kids ‘what’s working, what’s not working’, and I’ll try to share that with my teachers as well.”
Senior Lily Trott has been in Atkinson’s class for two years, taking pre-calculus, trigonometry, and IB math. She appreciates Atkinson’s kindness when it comes to not only life in the classroom, but personal wellbeing as well.
“She’s super caring. She always asks us what we’re going to do over the weekend or how our day is going. She just really cares about how we’re doing and really wants to make sure that we’re getting all of the information learned in class as well,” Trott said.
However, positivity is not all that won her teacher of the year. In class, Atkinson works to keep her students engaged in many different ways.
“To keep us motivated she loves to tell us puns and daily little jokes. If we’re feeling stressed out she can recognize that and she’ll say, ‘Let’s do the joke of the day or let’s do our daily pun, and it just makes the classroom environment such a happy place. She really cares,” Trott said.
Though Atkinson has faced multiple challenges teaching this past year, she has continued to work hard. She is determined to figure out the best way to teach her students.
“Let’s keep going with the things that are going well. In December I gave little forms to try and figure out what’s working and what’s not working. I think just the more that I try things, and try to stay consistent with them, that has helped me,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson continues to push through and stay motivated. Trott is thankful that she has had such a supportive teacher during her last year at LN.
“She definitely deserved to win teacher of the year. She’s just such an outgoing and friendly person. She’s a great teacher,” Trott said. “She has all the qualities of a great teacher and a great person, and I think you can learn a lot from her, not only in math but in life as well.”