Megan Wehrle, B.S. ‘12, M.Ed. ‘19, was named Teacher of the Year for Elgin Elementary School in Elgin ISD. Wehrle has been in the classroom for seven years, spending the past two years teaching fourth grade at Elgin Elementary. She will serve as a fourth-grade master teacher for the school during the 2019-20 academic year.
What programs did you complete at the College of Education? What were the big takeaways from them that you apply in the classroom?
I earned my bachelor’s degree is in Applied Learning and Development in 2012 and was in a cohort that specialized in reading. Many of the skills we learned through the program are still applicable seven years later. The interning and student teaching piece of the program built the foundation for my teaching, including classroom management, organizational skills, and lesson planning. I still keep in touch with my cooperating teacher and channel her in many of the decisions I make.
I also earned my master’s from the Texas Principal Leadership Academy in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy this year. My research was on co-planning to serve students by providing intervention supports within the general education classroom. In completing this research, we built the capacity of our teachers to ensure we had a joint responsibility for the students in our classrooms, which produced more equitable outcomes for all stakeholders. The program was intentional about centering our work and learning around equity, and it gave me the tools, vocabulary, and research to redesign a system that improved attendance, academic achievement and growth, and the overall well-being of our students.
What do you enjoy most about teaching 4th graders?
I enjoy teaching fourth grade because I get to team teach with two math teachers, which allows me the opportunity to work with around 34 students at a time, 65 in total. Although having such high numbers in a classroom might be counterintuitive to success, I’ve seen immense student growth, both academically and emotionally, because I have become that much more invested in the story of each student. I maintain high expectations for myself and my students, and in turn, my students hold themselves and each other accountable. Developing such strong relationships with and between students creates a unified family feel in our classroom, where all are welcomed and all will learn. My students are becoming the best version of themselves, and it is so rewarding to be a part of that process.
My role this fall as a master teacher will help me build the capacity of other teachers, which will then impact student growth. This will carry over to my work as a future administrator because I’ll be able to impact an entire campus through the same practices and focus that I have as a classroom teacher.
What advice would you give to aspiring or new teachers?
Have fun. Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession, but it can also be emotionally and mentally exhausting. Amongst the stress and the chaos, it is easy to lose sight of our true purpose as educators – our students. Yes, they need us to teach them the TEKS [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills], but they also need us to teach them kindness, life skills, and that learning can be enjoyable. As servant leaders, we as educators must be diligent about providing a memorable, high-quality education that all children deserve.
How does it feel to be recognized in such a way for your teaching excellence?
I feel honored and humbled to receive recognition for such important work that requires a large amount of collaboration and dedication. I feel very fortunate to be in a district that is invested in recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers, and I am continually amazed by all of the wonderful educators that surround me. Elgin may be a small town, but we are doing big things in education.