BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
NORTH SALT LAKE — It didn’t take long for students in Allison Riddle’s fifth grade class to think up an answer when asked why their teacher was named Davis School District’s Teacher of the Year.
The answers came in a flurry of enthusiastic responses:
Ґ “She never gives up on a student,” said McKay Kaass. “If they’re struggling, she doesn’t give up on them. She’s never mean.”
Ґ “She has a good sense of humor,” said Kenyon Sparks, “and she’s sensitive. If you’re feeling kind of down, she asks if you’re OK and tries to cheer you up.”
Ґ “She’s really intelligent and encourages us all,” said Elle Hines.
Ґ “She makes it fun,” said Savannah Robinson. “We play games to learn so we can memorize things.”
Indeed, the study of heredity on Monday included multiple games of Rock, Paper, Scissors as students learned about dominant and recessive traits.
“Aren’t they cute?” said Riddle, as she walked with the students walked to their computer lab. “I’m so lucky.”
Riddle has been teaching for 25 years, mostly third and fifth grades. Besides Foxboro, where she is now employed, she has taught at Meadowbrook and Wasatch elementary schools in Davis County.
“Allison Riddle is a teacher that every parent wants their child to have,” said Kevin Prusse, principal at Foxboro in an email. “She pushes each child in a gentle way to do their best, to explore, to think and to become better. She does this through her love of children and teaching and her sense of humor.”
Looking around her room at the inspirational quotes and the organizational charts gives one a feel for Riddle’s commitment to her students.
“The more energy I bring to the classroom, the more they give me back,” said Riddle.
Her comments to students are peppered with “Thank you for asking,” “Thank you for telling me,” and “Thank you for remembering.”
She prepares students for a fieldtrip by reminding them, “You are responsible.”
“You are amazing,” she told students before dismissing them to the computer lab. “I skip to work every day.”
Besides the students themselves, Riddle is interested in the science of teaching.
During breaks that come in Foxboro’s year-round schedule, she travels around the country as a consultant for a math company, working with teachers in staff development.
Consulting has made her a better teacher, and teaching has made her a better consultant, said Riddle. Seeing different instructional practices in other states and in private and parochial schools has given her a chance both to learn and to share.
Riddle headed the District Mentor program in Davis School District until it was discontinued due to budget cuts. She now mentors 10 teachers who are in their first three years of employment at the district.
Riddle believes in cooperative learning and integrated learning, blending studies in math and English, arts and sciences.
“It’s more fun directing their thinking,” said Riddle. After kids learn their A,B,Cs, you have to teach them what to do with them, she added.
History is Riddle’s favorite subject. According to a Davis School District press release, Riddle’s students learn the Preamble to the Constitution, memorize the poem of Paul Revere’s ride and can demonstrate knowledge of each state and each president.
Supportive parents and a supportive school environment at Foxboro help her as a teacher, said Riddle.
Education today benefits from technological advances, she said, but faces a challenge if families are too busy and kids are less disciplined and more enabled.
“I love teaching,” said Riddle, “I really am so happy that I went on this journey.”