April 24, 2023 – Twin Echo Elementary teacher Dana Andrews was honored as the 2023 Illinois PTA Outstanding Teacher of the Year at the Illinois PTA Convention Award Celebration on April 22.
Dana Andrews demonstrates qualities that stood out to the selection committee:
- Mrs. Andrews is a teacher at Twin Echo and is also a member of the PTA Executive Board. Her involvement with both has allowed her to be a liaison between the PTA and the school.
- Mrs. Andrews is an outstanding teacher. She cares about her students as individuals, and she goes above and beyond to communicate with parents. Not only does she keep parents informed about the everyday activities in the school/classroom, she takes additional time to communicate with parents about their individual child.
- Mrs. Andrews excels as an educator. Her knowledge of the curriculum and student learning has resulted in her student growth being one of the highest in the school district.
Watch Mrs. Andrews Learn She’s the 2023 Illinois PTA Outstanding Teacher of the Year
Mrs. Andrews was nominated by Twin Echo PTA President Sara Evers and Principal Dr. Julie Haake.
Twin Echo Principal Dr. Haake wrote:
Mrs. Andrews greets all students (families and colleagues) with her contagious smile. Her love for her students is evident in her everyday interactions. She is always cheerful, positive and sharing hugs when walking down the hallway. Her kind nature and warm personality have students gravitating towards her when they see her. Mrs. Andrews understands the importance of relationship building and always takes the time to listen to individuals.
This year Mrs. Andrews has had a couple of students with morning anxiety. Mrs. Andrews has worked with each of the parents to develop a morning plan to support those students and their individual needs. She has met students at the front door with a smile and a hug. When necessary, she went out to a car in the parking lot and calmly and patiently spoke with her student until she was ready to enter the school building.
Mrs. Andrews opens her classroom up to those students prior to the start of the day in order to make them feel welcome and comfortable. If a student eats breakfast at school, Mrs. Andrews has invited them to bring their breakfast to the classroom prior to the start of the day. Her willingness to work with each family on the child’s individual needs has helped decrease the anxiety these students were experiencing in the morning.
In addition to supporting her student’s social emotional needs and development, Mrs. Andrews designs her instruction to meet the needs of individual students. She uses frequent assessments to design instruction that fosters individual growth for all students. Instruction in her classroom is individualized and engaging. Her test scores rank among the highest in our district.
Twin Echo PTA President Sara Evers wrote:
As the President of our PTA, I am fortunate enough to have one of my children in Mrs. Andrews class, and I can tell you about how great of a teacher she is firsthand.
Every week in each student’s folder, there is a communication log. This log goes back and forth each school day. The student, parent and teacher are all encouraged to write in it daily, whether that is for questions, comments, or praises for that day. There is a weekly schedule on the communication log with that current week’s list of events, plans and weekly reminders.
In addition to the log, Mrs. Andrews posts daily on our classroom app. These posts include pictures of the classroom activities, updates on your student, and what they are currently learning as a class. Each week she messages parents individually to update us on our student and what we can be ready to learn in the future. The classroom app is also utilized to plan and request for upcoming classroom events.
Mrs. Andrews is very organized, prepared and plans ahead. She informs parents of possible snow days and sends the students home with “e-learning/snow day” packets, before the snow is even here! She gives the students “challenge” homework, which is fun and enriching. Parents are encouraged to sign their homework and the student turns it in for a special treat. She has tailored each student’s homework to fit exactly where they are academically.
As a parent with a child that requires special needs medically, Mrs. Andrews has gone above and beyond to take care of my son while he is at school. She eases my anxiety while I am not with my son because I know my child is in great hands.
She makes him feel comfortable and he knows he is safe with her. She herself has a son with type 1 diabetes, so she knows exactly what signs to look for and is ready to help him, however that may be, whether it is with fast-acting sugar, extra patience while he is cooperating, a dark quiet place to rest or even little pep talks about blood sugar tests. She always lets me know as soon as there is a problem and even checks his glucose meter a few times a day. On days when he goes home or is absent, I will receive a message or call from her checking up on him that day even in the evening or weekend. We have many conversations over our kids’ medical concerns. Not only does she educate my son, but she also educates me!