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Lifelong Learning

Hopkins Teacher of the Year works to foster love of learning

May 10, 2018

The phrase “Be the best you can be” hangs in Deb Booth’s classroom at Ellen Hopkins Elementary School. Booth, a literacy intervention teacher and this year’s Hopkins Teacher of the Year, believes developing joyful, lifelong learners is essential.

“I love to see the joy and satisfaction on a child’s face when they accomplish something they didn’t think they could do, and the confidence and motivation this gives them to achieve even more,” she said.

According to Booth, teaching is about many things: high expectations for herself and her students, individualizing to meet student needs, knowing the curriculum and using it with integrity, using research-based teaching methods, collaborating with colleagues, partnering with parents, and monitoring and assessing.

“However, I believe the most important thing I can do as a teacher is to foster a love of learning,” Booth said.

Booth, who has been a teacher for Moorhead Area Public Schools for 29 years, earned her elementary education degree from Concordia College, Moorhead, and her master’s in special education from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She also has certification for LD (Learning Disabled) and EBD (Emotional/Behavior Disorders) from MSUM.

For the past 10 years, Booth has been an early literacy intervention teacher at Hopkins. Prior to that she taught EBD, kindergarten and grade 2 at several schools in the district. Booth is also the lead teacher for the morning EXCEL program for grades K-2 at Hopkins, teaches for the summer Excel program, and serves on the district’s literacy committee and the continuing education committee.

Principal Lynnelle Dirksen notes Booth’s dedication as a teacher.

“She is dedicated to developing relationships with students and staff and has this same dedication to the academic progress of our students,” Dirksen said.

Previously Booth received recognition as a Moorhead Walmart Teacher of the Year, which awarded $1,000 to the school, and she was named Hopkins Teacher of the Year in 2014. This past fall, Booth applied for and was awarded a Moorhead Schools Legacy Foundation grant to purchase books for the morning Excel program.

In the past three years, Booth has traveled to Ethiopia twice, working and playing with children in orphanages and schools. She said that in Ethiopia, most teachers are not teachers by choice, but rather by default. Almost all teachers are working another job, turnover is high, morale is low, and working conditions are poor.

“Students have great needs in addition to getting an education,” she said. “Often their only food for the day is the bread and tea they get at school.”

On her second trip, Booth was part of a team that provided training to about 50 Ethiopian teachers. They were given certificates of professional development by the Ethiopian Department of Education and were happy to be recognized as teachers and thanked for what they are doing, she said.

“It was a humbling experience — one that has made me so appreciative and thankful for the resources I have access to here, for the importance our community places on education, and for the recognition and support I feel as a teacher,” Booth said.

Photo: Deb Booth, literacy intervention teacher at Ellen Hopkins Elementary School and this year’s Hopkins Teacher of the Year, works with a small group of students as they write sentences about one of the five senses after reading about the different senses.

Categorized under: School