Focused on growth and positivity -- Lincoln Elementary's Teacher of the Year, Pandi Backus
In Pandi Backus’ class, students recite a theme every day after saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The theme states: “In our class, we are a team. We respect each other. We take risks. We learn from our mistakes.” Backus uses this theme to guide everything in her classroom — especially learning from mistakes. “Making mistakes is a part of learning and a part of life. You make mistakes, but then you should learn and grow from that,” she said.
Teaching her students to learn from their mistakes is just one part of Backus’ big goals as a teacher. She also strives to build their self-esteem every day so that they are confident in their abilities to complete hard tasks. She explained, “A little positivity, a little encouragement goes a long way. I can get so much more out of my students if I just notice something good that they did; they will work much harder for me. I do have high expectations and I feel like when children are given those expectations, they rise to them.”
Backus has been selected as Lincoln Elementary School’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year. She has been teaching second grade at Lincoln for the past five years, after going back to school in 2014 to finish her degree. Every morning, Backus wakes up excited to go to work and interact with her students. “When they're not here, I miss them,” she explained. “I want them here as much as I want to be here.”
Former Lincoln Elementary principal Jeni Buist believes that Backus’ emphasis on personal development plays a big part in her success as a teacher. “Pandi is a great teacher! She is very conscientious and is so concerned about helping her students succeed,” Buist said. “Pandi is always looking at data and what can be changed for the benefit of the kids,” she continued. “She is willing to try new strategies for instruction and is not afraid to ask questions. Pandi really cares about her students and does a terrific job teaching them!”
Lincoln Elementary Teacher of the Year Pandi Backus with principal Jeni Buist and board member Roger Pulsipher