The recent recipient of the Wisconsin Middle School Teacher of the Year award will be in the running for the National Teacher of the Year award. Diana Callope teaches geometry, pre-algebra, and algebra at Whitewater Middle School and was presented with the Wisconsin state award in a surprise ceremony that took place last month. She will be rewarded with a check for $6,000 from the Herb Kohl Foundation and will represent the state of Wisconsin in the next National Teacher of the Year competition. She also received a Kohl Teacher Fellowship earlier this year.
When asked about the award and about being considered for National Teacher of the Year honors, Callope talked about how important it is to connect with her students and become a “significant, motivating adult” in their lives. Her aim, she says, is to inspire learning, not just in math but in all areas of both academics and in life.
One parent who was interviewed about Callope and her reputation as a math teacher at the middle school said that she excels at keeping students engaged in and focused on the material she teaches even when it is for an algebra class that she teaches at the end of a long day. Students, the parent says, just “seem to be drawn to her and her style of teaching.”
Callope’s efforts to engage her students in mathematics go beyond the classroom. She holds and “Eighth Grade Reality Fair” every year which gives students a chance to see how the mathematical concepts she teaches will be applied in everyday life once they are finished with their educational careers. The fair emphasizes things like personal finance, taxes, and budgeting and makes them aware of things like financial planning, identity theft, personal credit management, and insurance.
Callope also started the Homework Zone which is a tutoring program for all middle school students who need or would like help in math. The program is run by high school and college students and provides the middle schoolers with a supportive environment that encourages them through any struggles they may be having in math.