Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00
For Mineola teacher Lindsay Spanhake, teaching seventh-grade math at Mineola Middle School for the last six years has consisted of hard work and dedication to students. Well, her dedication has been recognized; she has been selected as Middle School Math Teacher of the Year by the Nassau County Math Teachers Association.
She will be honored at the organization’s annual awards dinner on Monday, May 21.
“I want to make math fun and relatable to their lives so they can leave my room and feel they’ll need what they learn in their everyday lives,” Spanhake said. “I feel there’s importance in showing students that you genuinely believe in them and that you’re here to encourage them to succeed not just in math, but any goal they wish to attain.”
Spanhake graduated from the University of Delaware in 2008 after studying elementary education, with a master’s degree in middle school math education. Her inspiration to become a teacher started in sixth grade, with her instructor Dennis Keene, at Chippewa Elementary School in Holtsville.
“I had a teacher who really believed in me and showed me that I was able to excel in honors classes and aided me in that transitional time in making friends; typical teenage stuff,” Spanhake said. “I promised myself that one day, I would let students know that I would be the one that always would believe in them.”
Andrew Casale, an instructional leader at the middle school, believed in Spanhake enough to nominate her for the award. He called her a “great educator.”
“One of the most dedicated and passionate teachers I’ve ever seen,” he said. “She cares about her students and wants them to do well. Her passion radiates to her students. Watching what she does, it was a no-brainer in nominating her.”
Spanhake is also co-leader of the middle school Environmental Club, adviser of the Math Pioneers and chaperones all school dances and trips. In her classroom, she uses inquiry-based learning, which promotes teamwork and tries to always connect math to their everyday lives.
“I try to learn what my student’ learning styles are at the beginning of the year,” she said, “I like to create lessons that area engaging on various levels of my students’ learning needs.”
Spanhake’s win bodes well for Mineola’s math program.
“That’s wonderful for her and also wonderful for [Mineola],” school board President Artie Barnett said. “Great work by her and everyone involved.”