English Education Students Learn from Indiana Teacher of the Year

This fall, Kathy Nimmer, Indiana Teacher of the Year, worked with Melanie Shoffner, associate professor of English education, as part of EDCI 434, Shoffner’s course on teaching English in secondary schools.

Nimmer, who teaches English at Harrison High School, is visiting schools throughout the state as part of her work as Indiana Teacher of the Year. She was also a finalist for National Teacher of the Year. Shoffner’s students accompanied Nimmer as she visited elementary and secondary schools, met with practicing teachers and spoke about the issues that today’s educators face. Students had the unique opportunity to assist Nimmer, who is blind. They monitored attendees’ reactions and receptivity to Nimmer’s message.

Shoffner said, “This is a unique opportunity for students to work one-on-one with an award-winning teacher and Purdue graduate as she engages with Indiana educators. Kathy Nimmer is an exemplar. Interacting with her and learning from the way that she interfaces with groups will give these students an advantage as they start their teaching careers. As they learn from her, they are also developing their professional understanding of the complex issues surrounding teaching in Indiana and the nation.”

Jacob Mroczkiewicz, senior in English education, traveled with Nimmer to a luncheon for retired teachers in Tippecanoe, Carroll and Benton Counties. Mroczkiewicz said, “The experience reaffirmed the reason I wanted to go into education in the first place, which is mainly that I yearn to make a difference in the world. It seems like I made the right decision, because as I listened to the retired teachers, it became evident that one of the more direct ways to influence the future of the social landscape that we all inhabit is through the youth who will serve as tomorrow’s leaders.”

“I’m proud to become a teacher,” he continued. “As teachers, we have a responsibility to the students in our classroom, to their parents, and to the communities in which we work to help forge a better future — not just for ourselves, but for everyone.” Mroczkiewicz recently completed his student teaching at McCutcheon High School.