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Taya Oelze named Union Teacher of the Year

Originally posted February 28, 2018

Kindergarten teacher Taya Oelze named Union District Teacher of the Year

Taya Oelze, a kindergarten teacher at the new Ellen Ochoa Elementary School, has been named the Union District Teacher of the Year during a reception Wednesday at the Union Performing Arts Center. All of the Site Teachers of the Year were also honored. More photos here

For as long as she can remember, Oelze has always wanted to be a teacher.

“When I was five, my favorite game to play was teacher. I asked for chalkboards and grade books for Christmas. I made my siblings or stuffed animals pretend to be my students. When my mom got her first classroom, I loved to go to school with her, help her set things up for her class, or come visit her students. When in high school, I seriously contemplated other occupations, but every time I did… I always came back to teaching. I could not be swayed,” Oelze said.

“When I was younger, I do not think I could have told you why I wanted to be a teacher. It was just an instinct, a feeling, a calling if you will,” she said, stressing she is especially passionate about literacy.

“I teach literacy and communication because I know how it will transform students’ lives, Oelze said, saying good literacy skills in the classroom leads to a better community. “I use literacy to teach communication in order to raise stronger leaders for our tomorrow. I teach to change the world.”

The foundation of literacy is listening and speaking which then grows into reading and writing, she said, noting the foundation of communication is the same. “I hope my students walk away from my classroom with a deep love of literacy because I know it will better their communication. I hope my students remember the excitement they felt in my room when getting new books, while reading or listening to a read-aloud, while writing a letter with the whole class, or while writing books of their own. I hope they carry the excitement of communicating through literacy. Excitement births passion. Passion births habits. Habits change lives. I am committed to watching literacy change students’ lives.”

Oelze began teaching for Union five years ago, saying she was attracted by the district’s energy and excitement. “Union does a fantastic job of building culture, tradition, and helping everyone feel like they belong and are part of a team,” she said.

While she hopes to continue teaching down the road, she also wants to coach other teachers.

“I love having impact on the world around me, so I do that by teaching both five-year-olds and educators who can have impact on all of their students as well,” she said.

Oelze received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis on early childhood education from Oral Roberts University.