Ellen Ochoa Elementary – Amanda Gruenberg, Kindergarten
Kindergarten teacher Amanda Gruenberg has been named the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Ellen Ochoa Elementary School.
“Initially, I became a teacher because I loved working with children and engaging in the learning process,” Gruenberg said. “Whether it was babysitting, volunteering, or coaching gymnastics I found myself connected to children in one way or another.
“Since then, I have realized that my ‘why’ for becoming a teacher has more to do with me wanting to make a difference in our world, to contribute to the greater good. As a partner in learning, I want to empower young children to realize their own strengths. I want young children to know there is a reason we are not one size fits all and to embrace it. I want them to know childhood is a right and to feel honored as they can explore the world in a developmentally appropriate way. I want to help students recognize which pathways of learning suit them best as they navigate their world, unlocking all of the truths they have to offer it.
“I want to encourage my students to follow their curiosities, searching, questioning, and reflecting along the way. I want them to see themselves as persistent problem solvers. I want them to know the power of YET. I want to spark an entire world of voices saying, ‘I can do it’.”
Teaching is different this year because Gruenberg is teaching kindergarten virtually.
“Some daily components such as navigating technology are new, but my overall model for teaching remains,” Gruenberg said. “Engage, connect, and celebrate potential. Now more than ever, it is critical to meet students where they come to us and provide supports for growth.
“Kindergarten is a pivotal year to ignite a love for learning for students and families, for many it is their first experience at school. Building connections with students and their families remains my most important priority. This year, I have an opportunity to engage families in a new way as they witness and participate in daily learning with their child. I get a front row seat to watch shared smiles of successes. Already I have seen families empowered as they become partners in learning.”
She started teaching in September of 2010. “I was originally hired for a long-term sub position at Grove Elementary,” she said. “Shortly after I accepted the position, I was interviewed and hired by Rita Long at McAuliffe for a first-grade teaching position that started after Labor Day. I continued to teach at McAuliffe (first grade, second grade, K-1 looping, and then kindergarten) until I moved to Ellen Ochoa in 2019 for a kindergarten position.”