An Apple A Day


Teacher focuses on strengths

Amy Boedeker works to inspire and motivate at Lincoln Elementary

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In college, Amy Boedeker thought she wanted to teach at a city school – a place where she could help at-risk kids reach success.

Instead, Boedeker came to St. Charles School District to teach first-graders at Lincoln Elementary School – a place where she’s found many students to help and inspire.

“I just fell in love with those kids who just need you the most,” she said. “We have a mix of that at Lincoln, but it’s really awesome to know they come here and this can be a positive place for them.”

Boedeker has worked at Lincoln Elementary School for eight years. She recently was selected as the St. Charles School District’s Outstanding Elementary School Teacher.


Boedeker, 30, said that while growing up she always had teaching in the back of her mind as a possible career. She remembers, as a kid, helping other students in her class practice reading. Teaching moments happened at home, too.

“I always played school growing up,” she said.

In high school, Boedeker contemplated a career in marine biology or as a veterinarian. Her first major in college was speech pathology, but as Boedeker was shadowing a speech pathologist at a school, she found herself more interested in what was going on in the classroom.

Now she tells her first-grade students to consider their strengths when thinking about the future.

“You need to think about your life and what you’re good at,” she said.


Boedeker tries to build relationships with each student in her class by pulling him or her aside every day to find out how things are going. She also works to get to know the parents and find out what’s happening in the students’ lives.

“It’s really neat. I still have kids who come back who want to talk about those things,” she said.

Boedeker said she believes she can impact kids in a positive way by helping them learn their strengths and celebrating the areas in which they are successful.

For reluctant readers, Boedeker finds books about subjects they love.

“If you get them thinking they can read, I really try to take off with that,” she said. “I build their confidence and go from there, whether it’s sight words or sounds.”

Lately, students have been working on using authors as mentors for their writing. If a certain author uses ellipses, for example, the students would practice using them in their own works.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “They are just 6. They’re using ellipses and fun punctuation and doing some really fun things with their writing.”


In room 5 at Lincoln Elementary School, posters about letters, nouns and numbers deck the walls from floor to ceiling. One bulletin board outlines different types of writing: lists, recipes, stories and postcards. Students store their bins filled with books on an easily accessible green shelf.

During reading time, Boedeker lets the kids decide where to sit, whether it be curled in a bean bag chair or sprawled out on colorful rugs.

“Some kids are laying under desks and enjoying books the way they want to enjoy them,” she said.


When times are challenging, Boedeker remembers a mom who once told her that her son hated school before he had Boedeker as a teacher.

“He was, you know, a good little boy,” she said. “He did the right little things. He needed a little motivation and push, but I had no idea he felt that way about school when he came to me.”


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