The following testimonial was shared by Belpre City Schools in selecting Suzanne Halterman as a 2016 Celebrate Teaching Distinguished Educator. 

If I could take a picture to capture the activities of an exemplary middle school teacher, here are the snapshots I would want you to see: 

  • A student who is performing at a 6th grade level, leading a heterogeneous group of peers through the building of a cell model 
  • Five students using technology, all assigned work at their individual levels, to offer skill practice in a differentiated way 
  • A small group gathered around a supply table to agree on which elements to choose in the design of a project 
  • The teacher searching and reviewing best practices to continue student growth and offer multiple ways to show mastery 
  • The teacher dedicating her “free time” (before school, planning periods, lunch) to reach out to students who do not have the support at home to complete homework problems or classroom projects 
  • The teacher organizing and leading a Science Olympiad Team through their first regional competition 

In this quick picture, all of these things work seamlessly to reveal a classroom culture that fosters individual learning for each student she services, as well as ownership and empowerment to “own” their learning. Let me introduce you to Suzanne Halterman. Suzanne is a dedicated educator, mom, and grandma who is currently a 6th grade Science and Social Studies teacher. Suzanne always has a smile on her face and a willing attitude to help. She is enthusiastic, energetic, and excited to “grow kids." She consistently builds relationships with students that encourage them to develop not only as students, but also as productive citizens within our school community. 

Some professionals would relax in this state and become “comfortable." However, Mrs. Halterman continuously seeks ways to change her instruction to improve her students’ learning. I have had many conversations with Suzanne to discuss students who are acting out, apathetic, or just not learning. These students have been labeled and often do not want to be in school. After several days in Mrs. Halterman’s circle, they begin to learn the expectation is that they CAN learn and will! With Suzanne, it is not about one huge event with students, but her drive day after day to meet her students’ needs and to maintain high expectations in spite of students’ reputations and documented disabilities. 

This year, Suzanne began a 6th grade Science Olympiad team. This team formed pairs of students, who worked at home and after-school to create science projects to present at competition. Suzanne organized the students and families. The students were encouraged to create the project and test it by themselves, without adults “making it work better.” She facilitated all practices, pushing students to check all rules and prepare for competition. All of our teams placed at the regional competition. 

Finally, Suzanne is well-respected and acknowledged each year by the parents and community members who serve in our building. She uses volunteers to help with classroom activities, she tutors students, and practices daily skills that some students do not have the opportunity to practice outside of school. 

In closing, I have seen amazing teaching and teamwork from this educator in the three years that I have been with our district. She is truly a “distinguished educator” who challenges students, leads an Olympiad team, and supports families. I know she is very worthy of the Celebrate Teaching Distinguished Educator Award.