At Highland Park Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota -- the first International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme in the Midwest -- Steve Abenth creates an active 21st-century learning environment for his kindergarteners. This highly innovative teacher integrates technology and hands-on learning into each lesson. Through his upbeat sense of humor, enthusiasm and creativity, he connects with students and keeps them engaged. Skilled at differentiating instruction, he handily accommodates learning preferences and thereby is able to motivate students to strive and achieve.
With razor-sharp accuracy, Abenth employs daily formative assessments of each child's progress and skill acquisition. Consequently, students know they are accountable and work diligently to advance. As math scores demonstrate -- a proficiency increase of 18 percentage points, with 94 percent of the class reaching their target goals -- his students experience high levels of academic growth. Quick to relay a compliment as well as a concern, Abenth forges strong relationships with parents whom he views as critical partners in their children's education. Believing in the value of the arts in education, he instituted a schoolwide music program, serves as choir director and obtains grants to bring artists-in-residence to the campus.
A highly collaborative and effective member of the district's grade-level leadership team, Abenth has presented at statewide technology conferences, facilitated numerous trainings and sits on the school's leadership and celebration committees. Highland Park's go-to guy for technology, he created data-tracking systems and shares his expertise training colleagues on the use of data to isolate learning gaps and improve achievement. Students and colleagues alike point to Abenth as a role model who is always encouraging, always dedicated, and always generous with his time and talents. He's indeed an exemplary teacher in all ways.