Editor’s note: As part of our celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Week, we are highlighting a few outstanding educators from classrooms across the state. We thank all teachers for their dedicated work with Iowa’s students this past year.

Today’s Q&A session spotlight features Sheldon Community School District teacher Levi Letsche. Letsche has taught for six years and currently teaches mathematics at Sheldon High School.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

I had two math teachers who were very influential in my life during high school: Mrs. Wankum and Ms. Spieler

Mrs. Wankum was extraordinary in how she prepared and taught material. She was committed to bringing things to life in a way that would impact my interest and prepared lessons to make connections outside of the classroom.
Ms. Spieler is a teacher who came from corporate business. This gave her a unique way of delivering and relating material to her own experiences. This brought the curriculum to life for her students.

Both teachers taught me the importance of going above the expected and that is where the difference between good and great in the classroom occurs.

Why are you passionate about teaching? What things do you love about working with students?

I am passionate about teaching because of the opportunities that I had when I was a student. I think back to what the relationships meant to me when I was growing up and I desire to imitate that for students who walk into our high school. I love working with students because of their personalities and how they are each unique. Harnessing their unique background that will drive their passion and determining their motivation drives me to be my best in the classroom each day!

What do you think are the keys to a student’s success and how do you help foster that?

It all starts with the relationship that you have with all the people in the school, (students, staff, faculty, administration) that all plays an important role in how you perform in the classroom, which will directly impact student success.

Harnessing the students' unique backgrounds that will drive their passion and determining their motivation drives me to be my best in the classroom each day!

Over the years, how have you grown as an educator? What opportunities do you see in the next few years in education?

I love to look back as to where it all began and think what aspects of my teaching stayed and what things have changed. I have grown in knowledge of the content area as well as instructional strategies, mentors in my life have pushed me to be the best I can be in the classroom. Our district has put a lot of focus on effective instructional strategies. I believe that I have shown growth in the area of leadership. This growth has impacted my personal life, classroom and school. Sheldon CSD has put time and effort into building the teacher to be the best they can be and this has opened the improvements in the classroom.

What advice would you give to a new teacher starting out in the field?

First off, ask questions. Your mentor and other colleagues have a deep desire to serve, that is why they are educators. They do not have the ability to fully support until you are vulnerable and ask hard questions.

Secondly, when you walk into your classroom for the first time, begin to imagine the perfect classroom culture and how you as the leader can help facilitate that.

Your culture and relationships will drive your ability to impact them in terms of your content knowledge.

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