8th grade at Lead-Deadwood Middle School
“A lot of people ask me, ‘How can you teach middle school?’ And I say, ‘How can you not?’ This is the time when kids are looking for their identities, considering their career tracks, wondering what will they be when they grow up. It’s an important time to be a part of their lives.”
Some teachers know how to step into their students’ worlds, providing an ever-present support system. While Wendy Schamber’s day job is to teach eighth-grade mathematics, you’ll find her all over the place and at all hours—she’s supervising the Key Club and Builders Club, and serving as the district’s math chairperson. She’s running the clock and keeping score at basketball, volleyball, and football games.
“I could go and just watch, but my students enjoy seeing me as an active part of their world, not just as a spectator,” Wendy says. “In my classroom, they are on my turf, but on the field or court, I get to step onto their turf. That’s where they get to shine!”
Wendy has spent years in the middle-school scene, a phase of life when kids often “have a tough time. Their own parents only get them for a moment” during this temperamental, transitional age range, so Wendy tries to provide extra reinforcement. “These kids can relate to me—and they keep me young,” she says.
Wendy is determined to teach her students what they need to succeed, both academically and personally. As a lifelong learner, she also strives to set an example for her kids. She hopes this example inspires them to be active in their school and community—and to make positive choices that will impact their opportunities in the future.
“Her students will tell you that she has very high expectations of them,” says her principal, Jay Beagle. “They will also tell you that she is fair, creative, and cares very deeply about them as people, inside and outside of school.”
Photo by Jesse Brown Nelson Photography