High school math instructor Lisa Myers was named Fairfield’s Teacher of the Year during the Annual Educator Appreciation Breakfast and Awards Program Thursday at Fairfield Middle School.
Myers teaches was greeted on the stage of the cafetorium by her husband Mark and son Drew, who hid behind a curtain until her name was called. Drew surprised his mom with a bouquet of yellow roses, her favorite kind.
Superintendent Laurie Noll presented the award to Myers. The award is sponsored by the Fairfield Manufacturers Association, Fairfield Economic Development Association, and Druzilla F. Clark Educators Foundation.
Noll described the Teacher of the Year as a person who writes congratulatory notes to her students, and who is so well respected that Fairfield alumni often pay a visit to her classroom years after graduating. “I was in total shock,” Myers said. “There are so many deserving people in this district. I thought Dr. Noll could have been talking about any of them.”
From the beginning
Myers has wanted to be a teacher since she was a little kid growing up in Livingston, Montana.
“And I loved math, too,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference with kids the way some teachers had made a difference with me.”
The Ledger asked Myers if she was a “math whiz” at a young age.
“I was decent in math,” she said. “Math is very analytical. It’s a step-by-step process, and that’s my personality. I’m a child of bankers and business people, so I was always interested in numbers.”
Life in Iowa
Myers and her family moved to Iowa when she was a teenager. She graduated from Danville High School, then obtained a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Iowa Wesleyan College. After teaching for a few years, she received her master’s degree in technology based learning from Morningside College in 2004.
Myers’s first teaching job was at Notre Dame in Burlington. She had just had a baby, and was working halftime. When her oldest son turned 5, she was ready to move into a fulltime position in what she hoped was a public school.
In 1997, she interviewed for a job as a high school math teacher in Fairfield, and quickly fell in love with the community.
“It was a no-brainer,” she said about her decision to accept a position here. “As soon as I walked into the high school, I knew it was a great fit.”
Move to Fairfield
At Notre Dame, Myers had taught both middle school and high school students. She actually hoped to be a middle school teacher, but the job offer in Fairfield was in the high school. She said she loves teaching high school students, and that the skills required to teach math vary greatly depending on the students’ age.
“I have the utmost respect for elementary teachers, and for every level of teaching for that matter,” she said. “I watched [elementary teacher] Mindy Hoskins this year, and I stood there in awe. I don’t think I’d do very well with little kids, but I like that 14-15 year-old age group. You need to have a rapport with them and respect them.”
Myers teaches algebra, geometry and statistics. The first two are usually taken, in that order, by freshmen and sophomores, though Myers mentioned that occasionally middle school students are advanced enough to take them, too. In fact, she mentioned that some eighth-graders are even taking her geometry class.
Myers said she tries to make learning math fun for kids by showing them its real-world applications. She reminds them that even if a topic seems unimportant now, it will be the key to understanding more advanced concepts later on.
What’s the most rewarding part of the job for her?
“I get to see the lightbulbs go off in the student’s head, and I get to see them grow from freshmen into seniors. I can’t think of a better job in the world.”