A Dillingham City School teacher is being considered by the state of Alaska for teacher of the year.
Erika Schneider grew up in Massachusetts, went to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and immediately started applying for jobs in interesting locations-- like Alaska. She taught in the Bering Strait School District for four years and has been teaching in Dillingham for the past three years.
Schneider is a sixth grade teacher at the Dillingham Middle School. This year she’s teaching English and social studies but she also can teach math. She says she became a teacher because she believes educating children is important for society.
“I’ve had a really good education myself and I wanted to be able to give that back to other people and help students learn. Our students are our future and we need them to be knowledgeable and be skilled and I thought I could contribute to that.”
Earlier this year, Schneider was awarded the Dillingham City School District’s Teacher of the Year. Afterwards, she decided to apply for the statewide Teacher of the Year award.
“It’s a ten page long application with all these essays. And I looked at the questions and said this is a lot of work during the summer when we’re busy catching fish and doing all that. But it was actually a really good chance to reflect on my teaching. I’m seven years into teaching and so it was a really good way to look back and say what have I done? Where am I still going? I kind of chose to do it for that reflection piece and to see where it would end up.”
In her application, Schneider talked about the kids in Dillingham and the work that she has been doing with them.
“I wrote about my teaching and the great kids that we have, and I think they liked that. I don’t have any particular expectations about whether I’ll be selected as the top one or not, if I were I’d use it to represent the great things that Alaska teachers do. I don’t think I’m the best, even in our building, but I think I can be a voice for the good things that everyone does do.”
The winners of the Alaska Teacher of the Year award receive technology money for their school as well as getting to attend a reception in Washington DC with the President.
Dillingham is no stranger to the Alaska Teacher of the Year award. The current winner is Denise Lisac, a recently retired Reading Specialist at Dillingham Elementary School. Previous Dillingham winners include Marilyn Rosene and Ina Bouker. Although she hasn’t spoken to any of the previous winner yet, Schneider says she’ll probably ask for their help before her final interview with the state in October.