Henry Adams once said, "A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops." Some of the greatest people I know and admire are teachers. Teachers have the daunting task of inspiring a child to learn, to read, to dream and to achieve. One of those teachers we at Fort Dodge Today are putting a spotlight on is a teacher who is making that task a reality-Sue Sieveking. She teaches at St. Paul Lutheran School in Fort Dodge. One of the first impressions I received when I spoke with Sieveking was "excellence, faith and dedication." Sue is dedicated and serious about inspiring her pupils to learn, to go beyond their comfort zone and reach for the stars.
What Grade/Subject do you teach?
I teach part time. My job is twofold. My primary responsibility is in gifted education, but I also work as a resource teacher, as needed. I have two talented and gifted classes, one for grades 5-6 and one for grades 7-8. I meet with each class once a week. The curriculum lends itself to the verbal/creative learner; however, we do many logical and critical thinking activities. I vary the curriculum each year. My goal is to conduct one in-depth study and one self-discovery unit with each class during the school year. The 5-6 class has been researching the Revolutionary War and the Patriots. We have spent time discussing our individual talents and abilities. The students will be choosing a notable person from history and will be researching that individual. We will conclude the unit with a "Morning of the Notables" where the students will portray themselves as that person. The 7-8 class began the school year with a look at leadership-definition, characteristics, interviews. We then had six lessons through Toastmasters, where we learned to become more effective public speakers. Currently, we are working on inventive thinking. At the conclusion of this unit the students will present an invention. Our in-depth study will cover ancient China. I also teach an enrichment class to grades 1-4 this year we are looking at thinking skills. We define and do activities in Bloom's taxonomy, and in creative, logical, and critical thinking.
Mrs. Sieveking shares a light moment during class discussion with her 7-8 class.
How long have you been teaching?
I started my teaching career in the regular classroom. I received my endorsement in gifted education from Morningside College in Sioux City, IA. I have been involved in gifted education for 17 years.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in southern Illinois (Red Bud), not far from St. Louis. My husband, Paul, and I moved to Fort Dodge in 2000 after Paul was elected president of Iowa District West of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Before our move, I taught full time in the Sioux City Community Schools.
Who was your greatest inspiration to become a teacher?
In middle school I had a teacher named Mr. Grotelueschen. His enthusiasm made learning fun. I always felt that he liked our class, and we were ready to work for him. You know the saying, "Students don't care what you know until they know you care."
At the end of the year what is the greatest goal or accomplishment you would like to see come to fruition in your class?
I think my goal would be similar to many other teachers. I would like to see my students become lifelong learners. I want them to believe in themselves, to take a few risks outside their comfort zone, to continually ask questions, and to look for the big picture from many angles.
If you had a whole day to leisurely do whatever you wanted to what would you do?
My free time finds me planning my next home remodel or asking myself which room needs painting. It is a creative outlet for me of which I never seem to tire. I like to go to Menards and pick out paint color samples.
As a parent of two school age children I often wonder, what is the greatest thing a parent can do to inspire their child to learn?
The best way to inspire your children is to set the example. Read to your children and have them read to you. Give them the gift of discovery. Help them problem solve by generating different solutions. Allow them to use higher level thinking as they analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the options. Value your children and the gifts God has given them for all children are gifted. Not all intelligence can be measured by a test. Your child may have wonderful interpersonal or intrapersonal skills.
What makes St Paul School such a great place to teach?
The most precious thing about St. Paul's School is the opportunity to daily share God's Word and love with each other. I am blessed to teach with a very dedicated and supportive staff. Being small in size gives students opportunities to participate in activities that they may not have in another setting. Each students gets individual attention.
What are some qualities that make the class you teach this year so special to you?
Each year I look at my students and realize the responsibility set before me. There are challenges and opportunities along the way. Every student has unique gifts. This makes every student special. They continue to enrich my life.
What is your favorite project/activity or subject that you can't wait to share each year with your class?
I mentioned earlier that I vary the curriculum from year to year. Other units I enjoy teaching are: Research the Day You Were Born, Multiple Intelligences/Career Study, ancient Greece, and ancient Egypt. I am continually tweaking my lessons to inspire the students' interest and enthusiasm, and I like to keep myself challenged by learning new things.