Traci Druschke pushes her third-grade students to dream big. Her classroom at Oak Hill Elementary School in Evansville is a hive of activity where students know their teacher expects 100% participation. Druschke moderates constant interaction and conversation among students. She embodies Whole Brain Teaching, an instructional system that helps students take ownership of their learning. Druschke teaches students how to structure productive questions and uses mnemonics and other memory models to help them absorb material. Students self-monitor their learning in "leadership notebooks," instruct each other in small "reciprocal teaching" groups, and lead morning meetings. Druschke holds high expectations, and her students rise to meet them.
Known as an expert in collecting data and using it to drive student growth, Druschke constantly assesses her students to make sure they have mastered the standards; if not, she works with them in small groups until they succeed. She helps each student set and conquer individualized learning goals. The school's third-graders perform above state averages in both math and English Language Arts; on the 2016 Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination (IREAD) assessments, virtually all of Druschke's students scored above average proficiency.
Druschke serves on Oak Hill's leadership team and helps guide the third-grade Professional Learning Community (PLC). She also develops and implements schoolwide professional development and mentors new teachers. Druschke has invited teachers and administrators from the school, the district and beyond to observe her instructional practices; her classroom is described as an "invigorating environment," rich with positive energy.
Before joining the Oak Hill team in 2014, Druschke taught for seven years at a high-poverty school in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Coporation (EVSC). While there, she was chosen for the EVSC Learning Leadership Cadre, a select program designed to bring new, innovative teaching strategies to district schools. Druschke researched novel instructional techniques, participated in special professional development, and spent a week at Brown University collaborating with peers. She presented the results of her research, "Closing the Gender Gap Through Literacy," at the Indiana Computer Educators Conference and led professional development on the topic for the district.
Druschke earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education in 2003 and a minor in English as a Second Language (ESL) in 2006 from the University of Southern Indiana. She received a Master of Education in 2009 from Indiana Wesleyan University.