NORTH SALT LAKE -- For fifth-grade teacher Allison Riddle, teaching has become an art and a science that demands a balance of knowledge, practice, and self-reflection.
The veteran teacher of 25 years was recently awarded the Teacher of the Year Award for Davis School District.
Riddle, who currently teaches at Foxboro Elementary, was selected from a pool of hundreds of nominees.
"The thing about (Riddle) that makes her such an amazing teacher is that she genuinely has a love of the art and science of good instructional practice," said Jake Heidrich, vice principal at Foxboro Elementary.
"She is very good at developing and implementing a good lesson and then backing it up with activities that aid and reinforce comprehension ... She knows how to break it down so students gain the most from it that they can."
Riddle said that she began teaching because she loved the art of presentation and because she was drawn to the elementary kids.
"I absolutely love the science of instruction and the balance with classroom management," Riddle said.
Over the years, she has developed programs and skills that have benefited both her students and her co-workers.
One such program she offers her students is the "Young American Award," which is a voluntary independent project for those who wish to challenge themselves.
As part of the fifth-grade curriculum, students study American history. Riddle said that she provides her students with a booklet of poems, basic facts, and historical figure spotlights for the students to study and memorize.
For example, students learn the Preamble to the Constitution, memorize the poem of Paul Revere's ride, and demonstrate knowledge of each state and each president.
Students who complete the project earn the "Young American Award."
"I love history and I want them to experience it and get excited about it," Riddle said.
Another part of teaching that Riddle enjoys and excels at has been mentoring other teachers.
She participated in a district-wide mentoring program several years ago, but the program was cut for budgetary reasons. However, Riddle brought her skills back to her elementary and continues to mentor provisional teachers -- those who are in their first 3 years of teaching.
Riddle frequently asks new teachers at her school what their concerns and needs are. She addresses their requests through various means; such as, providing an opportunity to observe an experienced teacher, encouraging them to self-reflect, and training them to master their inner authority.
"The best practices are the same. If you are a great teacher you can teach anything ... The more energy I give my students, the more they give it to me back. The more respect I give them, the more respect they give me. I try to model a trend of what (a good teacher) should look like," Riddle said.
Riddle said that she visits many classrooms throughout her school looking for the best practices of her fellow teachers. She then uses the mastered skills and talents of those around her to provide examples for the new teachers.
"She does a great job mentoring beginning teachers. Many of them have blossomed this year into master teachers," said Heidrich.
"I get as much satisfaction from seeing a new teacher improve as from helping my own students. If I help a new teacher, that's 20-30 more kids that will have a better experience. It has an exponential effect," Riddle said.
"I feel very satisfied every day. I love what I do. I am a rock star every day. I love the kids, the kids love me, and they are as excited as I am. Who would not want that job?" she said.
Riddle will continue on to compete at the state level for the Utah Teacher of the Year.