Millville Elementary’s Teacher of the Year Angela Justesen bolsters classroom success through continuous self-improvement

 

Angela Justesen

 

Every teacher knows the job doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom. That’s something Millville Elementary’s 2023-24 Teacher of the Year Angela Justesen exemplifies through her dedication to improving and learning new ways to reach her students and teach them new concepts. 

 

Teaching was in the cards for Justesen for a long time. Upon completing the fourth grade, she knew she wanted to be a fourth-grade teacher when she grew up. After graduating from Utah State University with a dual degree in elementary and special education, she was hired to teach fourth grade at Millville Elementary, where she has taught for the past 27 years. 

 

For Justesen, it’s all about helping kids believe in themselves. “I love helping kids,” Justensen remarked. “One of my favorite parts about teaching is seeing that light bulb go on, and they finally understand what they're being taught, and it makes sense to them and becomes something they own.”

Angela Justesen and students in the classroom    Angela Justesen and students in the classroom    Angela Justesen and students in the classroom

 

Justesen believes every student can accomplish that understanding and ownership. “All kids can learn everything. Some just need it taught a different way,” Justesen explained, “or a little bit more time to understand, a little bit more practice until they own it and they understand something. They can all be successful. I have high expectations for all of them because they can all meet them, but they need help. Obviously, I don't expect them to do it alone.”

 

Justesen adapts her teaching to her students so they can meet these high expectations by expanding her knowledge of teaching techniques and skills, and by soaking in as much information as she can from other sources.  “Teaching is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job,” Justensen commented. “I'm always thinking about the kids in the back of my mind, and I'll be somewhere or be doing something, and there will be some connection. I'll be at workshops, and they'll be talking about something like fractions, and I'll think, ‘Oh, this student is struggling with fractions. I wonder if they could use this.’”

 

“I've also done a lot of endorsements throughout the years,” she added, “and I’ve continuously had student teachers in my room so that I can stay up on new research and new ideas for helping kids learn. The biggest reason I go to workshops, conferences, and classes is to find out new ways, approaches, and strategies that will help kids learn. Even if it only helps one kid understand fractions better, it's worth it, because it gave them that understanding.”

 

Millville Elementary Principal Brady Johnson believes that Justesen is an exemplary teacher. “She loves to teach, and she loves students,” Johnson noted. “She works every year to be better at her craft, and she has high expectations for her students and works tirelessly to help them reach those heights. Mrs. Justesen is very deserving of this award.”