Denine Voegeli was nominated by her principal, Clark Olstad.
Mrs. Voegeli is an amazing educator who gives her heart and soul every year to her students. To be an eighth grade earth science teacher is a demanding role, not only in terms of understanding the curriculum material, but in terms of teaching eighth grade students, with all of their unique behaviors and personalities at this special age.
Mrs. Voegeli strongly believes that all students can succeed. This may sound like a normal educational statement that all educators believe, but Mrs. Voegeli takes it a step further. She has spent countless hours studying and learning the difference between Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset. Mrs. Voegeli completes an annual survey about Fixed and Growth Mindset at the beginning of the school year with all of her eighth grade students. The next step is that she identifies a select group of students who are determined to have a Fixed Mindset based on the results of the survey. Students do not know of Mrs. Voegeli’s results. Instead, she targets those students throughout the school year without them knowing and tries to instill a Growth Mindset in one academic year.
The basic difference is that students in a fixed mindset believe they have intelligence that is fixed, or “given” to them at birth, and they cannot change it. In a growth mindset, students believe that with hard work and effort, they can increase their intelligence. It is more about the learning and not necessarily the grade. Mrs. Voegeli does everything in her power to help each student believe they can work hard and accomplish their goals with a Growth Mindset approach in all aspects of life!
Mrs. Voegeli creates an amazing classroom atmosphere that is very relaxed and engaging. She usually starts the daily lesson with some humor by using Far Side Comics related to earth science.
“I have actually witnessed many of these comic strips and do not understand some of them without a little help from her humorous explanation," said Olstad.
Mrs. Voegeli has many strengths as an educator, but one of her best strengths is her humbleness on her yearly accomplishments with her students. Her students always obtain very high scores on the annual MCA State Tests, have outstanding behavior in and out of the classroom, and believe that they can accomplish anything in life.
Mr. Olstad recalled a quote from Bill Gates that reminded him of Ms. Voegeli, "Research shows that there is only half as much variation in student achievement between schools as there is among classrooms in the same school. If you want your child to get the best education possible, it is actually more important to get him assigned to a great teacher than to a great school." Students are very fortunate to have a talented and caring teacher like Mrs. Voegeli.
As demanding as Mrs. Voegeli is on her students, she is far more demanding of herself. She puts in countless hours of work before school, after school, on weekends, and during summer vacation so that she can give her best genuine effort to her students. Mrs. Voegeli is also very actively involved with state and national science memberships and attending annual meetings.
“She is, and will continue to be, a LifeChanger to many students and families at Plainview-Elgin-Millville Community Schools!” Olstad said.