Tina Ahfeld – Pre-Kindergarten
2013-2014 Teacher of the Year
Pre-kindergarten teacher Tina Ahfeld was named the 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year for Andersen Elementary School.
“I am a teacher because I have the privilege to be an important part of children’s lives,” she said. “Being a teacher gives me the opportunity to make children feel valued and cared for on a daily basis. By providing a structured and nurturing classroom environment where children feel safe and comfortable they will develop socially, physically, cognitively, and academically. This builds self-esteem, confidence and character. Being a teacher is extremely challenging, but seeing the students’ faces fill with excitement and pride when they learn something new is indescribable. Many say, “Oh, you teach Pre-K. They are so cute and sweet. How fun. You teach ABC’s and 123’s.” Yes, they are cute. Yes, they can be sweet and it can be fun. But, I believe that I do much more teach ABC’s and 123’s, I influence their future.”
Ahlfeld teaches, using a hands-on approach.
“This style provides students with the opportunity to learn by doing and to make connections in their minds with the materials,” she said. “This is especially beneficial for young children. Not only are they allowed to move around and be active, they are also able to practice other important life skills as well. Other skills they are developing include decision making and problem solving, communicating and relating with others, acquiring and using information and developing a positive self- concept.”
Just as teachers prefer to teacher using different methods, students learn using different methods, Ahfeld said, saying by using hands- on techniques students with various learning styles, interests, levels and needs will become curious and engaged, and that results in students who love to learn.
What is the most important issue facing students today?
Says Ahfeld, “I feel that the most important issue facing students today is how to deal with bullying. All students have been or will be affected by bullying during some point in their life - either by doing the bullying, being the one being bullied, observing someone else bullying or being bullied. While schools are a primary place where bullying can happen other places that are directly associated with the school such as the ride to and from school, neighborhoods, parks, playgrounds or even the internet are areas that bullying occurs. The impact of bullying is far reaching. Although it is true that students may be physically harmed by the bully, other physical effects can also occur such as headaches, stomach pains or sleeping problems. Those who are being bullied may also lose confidence, get depressed, develop low self-esteem or become suicidal. Students who bully also suffer negative impacts. They may get into more fights, steal, experiment with drugs, receive poor grades and commit crimes. Bystanders of bullying may also be affected. They may feel guilty for not helping or may be fearful that they may be the next target. Bullying is a serious issue facing students of all race, class, gender, and age. It must be addressed or it will have a devastating impact on the education and well-being of our children.”
Ahfeld started teaching in Union Public Schools in 2005, teaching Special Education ER 1 for three years and she has been teaching pre-kindergarten since 2008 since the district began the full-day pre-kindergarten program.
“One of the main reasons that I have continued to teach for Union is because of the amazing people that I get to work with every day,” she said. “The entire Andersen Elementary staff consists of caring people who are there because they have a genuine concern for children. From our secretary and receptionist to each para-professional and other educators, everyone does what is best for the students. Another reason that I teach at Union is because the community that is served by the Union School District strongly supports education. This shows through in many ways – resources, programs, partnerships, and Union Pride! Finally, the leadership in Union is extremely strong. There is commitment to students at every level – from early childhood to college bound. Providing educational opportunities to enable dreams to true is their goal.
Her professional goals for the future are to obtain a master’s degree in early childhood education and to continue to take advantage of learning opportunities offered by the district and through local agencies.
From 1989 – 1994, she attended the University of Missouri – Columbia. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1994 with a B.S., in Education – Special Education. She received her certification to teach learning disabilities K-12, Behavioral Disorders K-12, and Educable Mentally Handicapped K-12. She taught special education in the Columbia Public School District in Missouri for 9 years and she is certified to teach Early Childhood Education and Mild-Moderate Disabilities in Oklahoma.