Diane Bullock always knew Meeker Elementary School was a special place. This past year, her knowledge was confirmed as it was recognized on the national level with a Blue Ribbon Award.
Given out by the U.S. Department of Education, Meeker was one of only five schools in Iowa to receive the honor.
“The Blue Ribbon Award is a great honor and recognizes the hard work and dedication of students, staff, parents and the community,” Bullock says. “It takes a village to educate our children.”
While community members and other supports are part of the formula for success, teachers like Bullock are key components as well. With 17 years total experience in the Ames Community School District, including the past four as a third grade teacher at Meeker, she has cultivated a multi-faceted approach to teaching that shows in the success of her students.
“Responsive Classroom is a research-based approach used in classrooms to promote both social and academic curriculum,” Bullock explains. Part of this approach includes the “morning meeting,” when students come together to greet, share and set the tone for the day. Bullock also models behavior, routine and skills for the class, in addition to teaching students strategies for conflict resolution.
To prepare students for more in-depth learning, integrated-subject projects are also utilized.
“Integration of curriculum increases student achievement and engages students in relevant topics,” Bullock says. Most recently, science, literacy and technology were combined as students researched and presented findings on an endangered animal of their choice.
As well as integrated learning, “it is essential that students understand how learning is applicable to their lives.” Generating real-world story problems to work on multiplication skills, students explored why the skills were necessary as well as how to utilize them most efficiently.
Working at one job for so long could be monotonous for some, but Bullock says teaching has stayed rewarding. Teaching students in their formative years is a job not to be taken lightly, and she sets a shining example of what students need in the classroom.
“It delights me to see them grow in kindness, confidence, knowledge, and skills,” she says.