Spotlight: 10 Questions for Andria Lindsey (OR '17)March 5, 2018
One thing math teacher Andria Lindsey (OR ‘17) loves about teaching is spending her days with young people whose whole lives lie ahead of them: “They inspire me every day to be my best and look to the future.” She won Oregon’s 2017-18 Milken Educator Award at Bend Senior High School on December 12, 2017.
1. What went through your mind when you heard your name called at your surprise notification?
Andria Lindsey: Everything stood still in my mind. I hoped that my legs were going to work to get me down the bleachers to the gym floor. My daughter [Taylynn, a ninth-grader at Bend High] was sitting across from me in the gym and I saw her jumping up and down in excitement. Everyone was screaming and I just couldn’t believe that it was really happening. I thought of all of my colleagues who could have easily been the recipient of this Award, and I felt so fortunate to be recognized.
2. How did your students respond to your Milken Award? What impact has it had on them?
Andria: My students rushed onto the gym floor as soon as they were released from the assembly. They hugged me and congratulated me. They were so excited! I also received lots of phone calls and messages from past students and parents telling me how happy they were for me. Students don’t usually see educators awarded for anything, so this was a big event—I am so happy I could share that moment with them. I think the presentation showed them that there are people out there looking for great educators, and that even though the profession is not known for monetary awards, they can happen!
3. How did you end up in education?
Andria: I needed to make a little bit of money in college and helping people with their math seemed like an excellent idea. I fell in love with the moment when students grasp a concept that had previously troubled them. That’s what made me consider education. When I graduated from college, I applied to teach at a small school close to my hometown. After the first day of teaching I knew that was how I was going to spend the rest of my professional days. I immediately enrolled in a master’s program in the evenings to get my teaching credential and master’s degree, and to learn how to be an effective teacher.
4. Who are your role models as an educator?
Andria: I have had many. I was extremely fortunate to have amazing teachers in my younger years. Mr. Perry, Mr. Maxey and Mr. Dixon taught math in a very clear manner and were always willing to answer questions. They made math very approachable, which gave me the confidence to pursue higher level math and pursue it as a profession. Mrs. Lewandoski and Mrs. Hammond taught me how to build positive relationships with students and how to be a strong example in class. I learned early on from one of my graduate school professors, Mr. Ed Tooley, that caring about students was the most important thing that I could do as an educator. The idea was that if students knew that I cared about them, then they would in turn believe in themselves and work to their potential.
5. What memories stand out from your first year of teaching?
Andria: I spent my first year as a teacher in a tiny private boarding school where my students were training to be top tennis players in the nation. I taught something like five different subjects and quickly became a “second mom” to the students since their families were so far away. I remember making them cookies on their birthdays and helping with the Thanksgiving dinner and such. I had some very difficult students that year and I recall going to grad school at night looking for tips on how to make it through the next day without any behavioral issues. The school did a great job, in my opinion, of supporting healthy student-teacher relationships, even allowing us time to watch our students play tennis at a large local event. I learned a lot that year and it gave me the confidence to stay in the teaching profession.
6. What are students most likely to remember about their time in your class?
Andria: I hope they remember how much fun math can be. I am a really nerdy math teacher and I love coming up with silly ways of remembering stuff. It works for a lot of kids and they recall the sayings years later. Students also know how much I like to eat pie and celebrate Pi Day. Mostly, though, I hope they remember how much I cared about them and their success in my class and in life.
7. What’s your biggest challenge in the classroom?
Andria: My biggest challenge is finding the time to give each student the support they deserve. With increased numbers of students in our classes, it’s hard to give them the one-on-one help they may need and still cover the amount of curriculum necessary to move on the following year. As teachers I think that we will always struggle with the lack of support that some of our students deal with at home. It’s hard for us to fill that gap in their lives, but we sure try.
8. How do you think you’ll use your $25,000 Award?
Andria: I hope to be able to travel a little bit. It will be nice to be able to provide for my children without worrying about every dollar spent. I have three very active children and it costs a lot of money to give them opportunities to grow and be challenged in life. This Award will help me breathe a little bit!
9. What would you say to a student who expresses interest in a career in education?
Andria: A career in education can be incredibly rewarding. You will never get wealthy in this profession, but you will be rich in relationships. It makes me so happy to think about my past students who have gone on to be wonderful adults and make positive contributions in their community. It’s an amazing feeling to know that as an educator, I had a small role in their progress.
I believe that if you give your students the best of you and share the passion that you feel for your subject, then it will be contagious. All I ever want to do is open doors for students, and that’s what educators can do! In addition, we get to spend every day with amazing young people who have their whole lives ahead of them. They inspire me every day to be my best and look to the future.
10. What’s your definition of success?
Andria: As a teacher, making a positive difference in the lives of my students is success. Being able to do what I love as effectively as possible most days of the year helps me feel successful. I will never have arrived and therefore will always be working to be “successful.” Every day brings new problems, new students, new concepts to be taught and new ways of teaching those concepts. I continually work to get better at my job and will until the day that I leave.
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