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Lifelong Learning

Horizon West Teacher of the Year brings experience and caring to the classroom

March 1, 2019

With more than 30 years of teaching experience, Diana Anderson has taught students of various grade levels in a variety of schools.

“I think the key to a long teaching career is to see each day as another new beginning,” Anderson said. “Each year is like a first year again.”

Named this year’s Horizon West Teacher of the Year, Anderson has been a sixth-grade teacher for the past eight years. She began teaching for Moorhead Area Public Schools in 1996. Prior to that she taught in both private and public elementary schools in South Dakota.

“Diana has the excitement of a new teacher and the experience and perspective of a seasoned one,” said Carla Smith, principal at Horizon Middle School West Campus. “Her positive attitude and caring demeanor make her a great teacher and a wonderful colleague.”

Anderson earned her bachelor’s degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., and began teaching at a private school in Ipswich, S.D. In 1999, she completed her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

After several years teaching in private schools, Anderson became a Title I teacher at an Aberdeen, S.D., elementary school, but she missed having her own classroom of students. For the next eight years she taught fifth grade.

In 1996, Anderson moved to Robert Asp School in Moorhead. She was a Title I math teacher for grades 5-6 students for three years.

“Although another rewarding experience, I missed having my own classroom of students,” Anderson said. “For the next five years, I taught grade 6 at Robert Asp. I was part of a team of teachers who piloted the middle school model as we moved to the creation of Horizon Middle School.”

After teaching grade 6 math for a year at Horizon Middle School, Anderson returned to teaching grade 5 at Robert Asp Elementary, which became a K-5 school when Horizon opened. In 2011 she returned to Horizon as a sixth-grade math teacher, and in 2017 she became a sixth-grade teacher at Horizon West.

“I am loving this current position and still look forward to each day with my students,” Anderson said. “I have taught many years, and yet each year feels like my first year all over again. There are always new challenges and fresh approaches to our profession. Thank goodness I have had such wonderful colleagues to help me along my way.”

Besides teaching, Anderson has served as grade 6 department chair, a member of the building leadership team, and on the district math committee. During the summers of 2007-11, she taught summer school to kindergarten students.

According to Smith, Anderson is a positive, caring and creative teacher.

“She is a lifelong learner and is always striving to learn from all the teachers and students she interacts with during her day,” Smith said. “She is passionate about all subjects and jumps into learning with both feet. Mrs. Anderson is the kind of teacher who knows the little things about students and who reinforces kindness and caring every day in her classroom by how she treats her students.”

Each day, Anderson’s goal is to support a classroom environment that is accepting of everyone and is a place where her students feel safe.

“I try to create a classroom where mistakes are accepted and challenges are encouraged,” Anderson said. “I want my students to feel treasured for their unique qualities and bound by their similarities. Luckily education is ever changing, which allows me to try new teaching methods and materials all the time. I am always on the lookout for new practice, technologies, and hands-on materials.”

Anderson was surprised and humbled to be named Horizon West Teacher of the Year.

“To represent Horizon West is something that I did not think was possible because of the other talented staff that I am with every day,” Anderson said. “I have been blessed to work with amazing teachers, principals and administrators who have helped me along the way. Teaching is not what I do, it is who I am.”

Photo: Diana Anderson, sixth-grade teacher and the 2019 Horizon West Teacher of the Year, listens as a student explains an answer on an assignment about perimeter and area.

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