Amanda Saltern is Sky View High School's 2022-23 Teacher of the Year!
No matter the subject she’s teaching, Amanda Saltern strives to create an environment that encourages students to never give up or be afraid to fail. “Failure just means you’re trying, and even if you’re not perfect at it the first time, you try again,” Saltern shared. Throughout her four years at Sky View High School, and 11 years teaching, Saltern has taught Photography, Health Science, Business Office Specialist, Digital Graphic Arts, and Yearbook.
When her students get frustrated and want to give up, Saltern pushes them to keep going. She reminds them, “You’re learning, and it might not come easy to you at first. But you have to keep trying. That’s why there’s a ‘Command Z’ - to undo what you did before. Then, you can go back to the start, see where you missed this step, and move forward.”
According to Principal Shane Jones, Saltern was named Sky View High School’s 2022-23 Teacher of the Year for her willingness to help wherever needed in the school and her positive influence on students. Jones is a new principal at Sky View, and when he arrived at the school, he had a few projects he wanted to get started on. One of them included creating daily video announcements for the school, which put a lot of extra work on Saltern’s plate. “Her attitude and willingness to accept that and start a new program a week into the school year was commendable,” Jones explained. He discovered that all Saltern had to do was ask kids to participate and they were on board with the project. ‘She is so good at relationships with kids, and they want to do so much to make her like them. They respect her and love being in her class,” Jones continued. In addition to the video announcements, Saltern is also going to start teaching a Video Technology class next year.
“My approach to teaching starts with building relationships with my students,” Saltern explained. She tries to find a common interest she shares with the students, whether that be riding horses, liking dogs, or other similar interests. Saltern firmly believes that when you find something you can connect with students about, they’ll be much more respectful and learn better. “Classroom management is super important to being a good teacher,” Saltern said. “If your classroom is managed, then teaching content and anything that comes with it is much easier because your kids are paying attention, they know what to expect from you, and you’ve laid a foundation out for them.”
Saltern has also found it extremely helpful, especially with the subjects she teaches, to use demonstration. Anything she teaches and expects her students to do, she demonstrates and shows them first. For example, if students have a photo assignment and they’ve been talking about shallow versus large depth of field, Saltern will connect her camera to an HDMI cord so students can see her camera screen up on the TV. Then, she will demonstrate how to do the skill, as well as what it should look like. If it’s a Photoshop assignment, she’ll show students the steps and help them get started, and then let them go off and try it themselves.
Saltern emphasized the importance of having a relationship with students in order for this type of teaching approach to work. “When you build a relationship, all those things that you want kids to learn will just come. But you need the relationship first,” she explained.
Teaching CTE classes and electives, Saltern recognizes the importance of creating a safe, fun environment for students. She expressed just how important these elective classes are for students to take. “First of all, these classes give students a glimpse into careers. Education is important. Whether it’s a trade, college bound, or just learning a skill, it’s important,” Saltern said.
When talking to her students about education, Saltern uses her own education and career as an example. While students always assume she got a degree in Photography, Saltern actually got a double major in Exercise Science and Health. She became a photography teacher because it was always a passion of hers. She took classes in high school and learned how to take photos on film. Throughout college and other parts of her life, Saltern worked with photographers. She taught herself Photoshop from YouTube, as well as taking a few courses throughout her career.
Now, she is a talented and passionate teacher who helps students explore their own interests and hobbies. The purpose of sharing her experience with her students is to help them see that there are many paths and different ways you can receive an education, and to never stop learning, because you don’t know where it might take you.
Saltern makes her classroom a safe place that allows students to explore and try new things. Her favorite part of teaching is sharing her passion and love for the things that she gets to teach with her students, and watching them take it and succeed. “It’s rewarding. You know they are truly grasping something when they come in and want to show you something they’ve done. Seeing them proud of their work is the highlight of my day,” Saltern shared.