'Mrs. Hanson' named Park Rapids Teacher of the Year
Century third grade teacher Vicky Wentworth Hanson encourages her students to be frogs, not bumps on the log.
"Jump into learning and life," she advises.
"My goal is to help children believe in themselves, and learn about themselves as learners," said the educator who's spent 28 years engaging the minds of 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds in Osage and Park Rapids.
Hanson's objective has been saluted by her peers who've chosen her EdMN-Park Rapids Teacher of the Year.
"Vicky is an outstanding educator," middle school EBD teacher Aaron Morris wrote in a nomination letter. "She consistently goes beyond the norm in becoming acquainted with her students' learning styles as well as their academic and social needs... She's a master teacher."
Hanson cherishes the minds of her young students who are "right on the verge.
"They are still young children one minute, singing 'I'm a little teacup,' and doing algebra the next."
Students entering third grade achieve a higher level of independence, she explained. Expectations have advanced. "They continue to go higher and higher, but they rise to the challenge - every minute."
Initially, Hanson had been interested in the pre-kindergarten to first grade age group while attending college at Mankato State University.
But she reveres third graders for the "amazing" strides they achieve in literacy - drawing conclusions, interpreting and thinking independently.
In math, students move from the basics to algebra to strategies in problem solving. By year's end, the mathematical operations of multiplication and division are routine.
And, in the near future, all their compositions will be written in cursive.
Preparation for Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) exams "is a big part of every day." Standardized state testing begins at the third grade level.
Parent-student-teacher communication - "working as a team - is vital to achieving the best year possible."
Hanson's Web page is updated weekly, with a hard copy sent home with kids. She sends updates on homework and strongly encourages parents to talk to kids about what they've learned. "That shows comprehension."
Her responsibility to students consumes her. "They are never away from my thoughts," Hanson said, even at 4 a.m., when she wakes up with ideas on addressing a lesson, or sending home a note to parents.
"I love this job. I love these children. They rise to the challenge, all the time.
"I hope what I do every day doesn't just show I'm a teacher, but who I am."