If a student is struggling with a math concept, Angela Mosier keeps looking for new ideas, new ways to help the student make the connection.
She draws pictures to help students visualize the concept. She might pull in physics to explain the “why” behind the numbers.
And she is always ready to exchange ideas with colleagues and do anything that will help students in her class and the classes of other teachers.
“To make a great teacher, it's never giving up,” said Mosier, a high school math teacher and math department chairwoman at Westside Community Schools.
Mosier's hard work, persistence and creativity were recognized Monday when she was named the 2013 Nebraska Teacher of the Year.
Nebraska Education Commissioner Roger Breed gave her the award during a surprise presentation Monday in her classroom, where she was teaching her last section of advanced algebra for the day.
Teachers across the state apply for the annual honor. Their applications include essays and letters of support. The award recognizes exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled teachers who have earned the respect of colleagues, parents and students.
“Anything to make math more meaningful and fun, she does it,” said Leah Terry, a fellow math teacher who was mentored by Mosier when she started teaching at Westside. “She's been a real model for me.”
Terry teaches the class that comes after students have passed Mosier's class.
Not only is Mosier a great resource for new teaching methods, she also shares insights about students — say, a hobby or other interest. “That's something I can use to gain a relationship with the student as well,” Terry said.
Lance Mosier, Angela Mosier's husband, sees it, too. He teaches eighth-grade history at Westside Middle School.
“She's really good at making those connections with students and (helping) them grow and believe in themselves,” Lance Mosier said.
The Mosiers made their own connection while working together at the middle school. Angela Mosier started her teaching career there in fall 1999. She taught there nine years and is in her fifth year at the high school.
When the time came, Lance Mosier proposed over the middle school's intercom system. Then he asked Angela to meet him at the school bookstore, where he gave her a ring.
Angela Mosier said she figures most of the school's roughly 800 students ran down to watch.
The couple now have two children attending Westside's Loveland Elementary School: Erin, a third-grader, and John, a kindergartner.
“So Westside has been a pretty special place for both of us,” said Angela Mosier, 36.
Still, she said she was shocked at Monday's announcement.
“This is such a huge honor to be picked from among all the great teachers in Nebraska,” she said.
She was one of four finalists interviewed by a panel in late September. She knew the other three were excellent teachers. But she said she was on “an emotional high” after the interview because she got an opportunity to talk about education and how to make it great.
As part of her application, Mosier wrote that she listened to a college adviser's encouragement that she study physics as well as math so that she could be a positive role model for girls by teaching in a male-dominated area.
Mosier has bachelor's and master's degrees in secondary education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She holds National Board Certification in early adolescent mathematics.
“I want students to know that I support them as a ‘whole person' and not just as a mathematician,” she wrote.
Indeed, she talked Monday about how much she enjoys working with students.
As head of Westside's math department, she teaches half of the day and attends to department duties during the other half.
“I don't think I could ever imagine not being in the classroom,” she said.
Several students approached Mosier and hugged her after the announcement.
“She puts 110 percent effort into everything she does,” senior Madeline Lynch said.
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