Educator Spotlight: Amy Soellner
Meet Amy Soellner
What grades do you teach, and/or your title/role?
I am a multilevel math interventionist for kindergarten, all the way to fifth grade.
What school, district or institution do you work for? Location?
I have been a teacher at Butterfield School in Libertyville, IL, for 19 years. I spent 10 years in fifth grade, 6 years in third, and this is my third year as an interventionist.
Who inspired you to become an educator?
I have wanted to be an educator since I was born. My dad was a teacher, and I loved every teacher I've ever had. I actually just ran into my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Woods, at a basketball game recently!
What motivates you?
I am motivated by being challenged; challenged with curriculum, curriculum materials, positive feedback from others, and seeing students' confidence and abilities flourish!
What advice would you give to your first-year teacher self?
Do exactly what you're doing, because you are going to have a beautiful career because of it!
What do you wish more people knew about being an educator?
It's hard. It's fulfilling. It's sad. It's joyous. We love our students like they are our own children. We feel their highs and lows. We do the best we possibly can with the resources and mix of students we are given.
And to trust us and our professionalism. We love our jobs and chosen career, and it's changing at a rapid rate. Give us grace, just as we will give you and your children.
And “shortcuts” and the “traditional algorithm” are not the only way to solve math problems.
What do you love most about Bridges curriculum/math apps/MLC?
Absolutely everything. I wish I had been a young mathematician learning with Bridges. I probably wouldn't have been so terrified of it! I love how it's visual and how it all truly makes sense, once the concepts start to come together. I love how it fosters a love and excitement for math, and the math conversations that are had with students are so impressive. It makes math “doable” and tangible for students. And parents, too!
What do you love most about working with students?
Their humor. Their light. Their questions. Their ability to question and absorb content at their own rate. The growth they make from day to day. Their stories they share. The love they share with me and others around them. The sound of their laughter. Their honest, and often brutal, opinions. Their innocent questions.
What’s your math story? In other words, how do you feel about math and why?
I have always been terrified of math. I was publicly humiliated by my seventh grade math teacher, and ever since then, I would shut down. My mom and dad were very good with numbers and would often get frustrated when trying to help me at home. They tried their best, but I needed visuals. I needed to see it, touch it, move it, in order to really understand math. I spent high school dreading my math classes. For college, I went to a Big Ten school and had to take Finite Mathematics, multiple times, as it just didn't settle in my brain. But now? Bridges has opened a whole new world for me, and it excites me to teach others, and challenge others' thinking, mathematically. Bridges and the MLC have not only moved mountains for me, but for my students, as well.
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