At any given time in Amanda Van Leeuwe’s math classroom at Reede Gray, one might find third graders doing multiplication activities, fourth graders learning about division or second graders understanding what half of something would actually look like.
Van Leeuwe, who is teaching math to students in Grades 2-4, is helping establish that mathematics foundation all students are going to need as they continue to grow in their math knowledge.
Van Leeuwe, a native of Ghent and a 2008 graduate of Marshall High School, knew from the beginning teaching was her calling.
Van Leeuwe said she really likes everything about education, but especially enjoys the chance to be around the students.
“I want to help them see all they can do,” she said, adding she learns just as much from them as they are learning from her.
Van Leeuwe, who earned a degree in elementary education with a mathematics emphasis, said she opted to pursue math as her specialty because it is something she loves.
“Math is logical,” he said. “There is no gray area with math.”
There is always a right answer, and the fun is helping students find that answer.
Van Leeuwe said there are different approaches a student might take to get the answer, but in the end what is most important is for them to find the right answer and to understand how they discovered it.
Van Leeuwe said she enjoys the fact she is teaching just math to students, because it allows her to get to know more students and their families, which may not be as possible if she was teaching more subjects to just one class of students.
“I am getting to know a lot more kids and their families,” she said, adding in some cases she is teaching siblings which helps her create stronger connections with them.
Van Leeuwe, said she opted to teach elementary age students because they are at an age when they still love to learn and they exhibit a lot of creativity.
The opportunity she has to help younger students become life learners and to help establish that base of math understanding is something Van Leeuwe appreciates, and that responsibility is not something she is taking lightly. Van Leeuwe said she is the kind of teacher who likes to get the kids up and doing things and to help them see they can have fun doing math.
Van Leeuwe said the decision to come to Redwood Falls was an easy one, because she always felt she wanted to teach in a small town.
Van Leeuwe hopes to emulate other teachers in her life who put students first and always went above and beyond to ensure they got the best education possible.