April 2014

 

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Zebra Staff Note:
The Teacher Feature highlights the positive impact or innovative work of a South Dakota teacher each month. If you have a suggestion for a Teacher Feature, contact Ruth Raveling at (605) 773-2593 or Ruth.Raveling@state.sd.us.

Ramona Lundberg has a deep love for the outdoors and animals, so she decided to become a science teacher. Once she started teaching, though, she found that the subject didn’t really matter: “Teaching is about the person and helping students, and you can do that in any subject.”

Teaching at Deuel High School, Lundberg gets to know a lot of her students well: “I’m really fortunate in this smaller school. I can have one individual student in four different classes, and my classes are small.”

Lundberg takes that opportunity to talk to her students about their futures. “I tell my students, ‘It costs a lot of money to have fun, to keep your house, your car. You’ve got to try to get the best job you can, so education is your key,’” she says. “I like that about being a teacher. I think I can have an influence on kids.”

In 2006, Lundberg began examining that influence more intensely when she started the process to achieve National Board Certification. “I would consider it the best professional development I’ve ever done,” she says. “It requires you to get into your own teaching in a very critical way.”

Lundberg says the whole process made her a better teacher by causing her to think deeply about her planning, instructional decisions and if she’s effectively reaching students at different levels.

Now Lundberg mentors other teachers seeking certification: “I like mentoring because I understand that it’s very difficult to write about yourself this way.” Lundberg passes on the advice she got from her own mentor, encouraging her mentees to write more confidently and strongly about the good decisions they make and the things they do right—for example, not writing “I hope I do this,” but instead, “I do this because…”

So, what does Lundberg do? She has taught at Deuel for 35 years. Currently, she teaches sophomore biology and three sections of dual credit biology and chemistry through Northern State University’s Rising Scholars Program. And she hopes her enthusiasm for science rubs off on her students.

“I think high school should be just as fun as second or third grade,” she says. “We do as many labs as I can fit in and my budget can support. I want students to be able to see and feel science as much as they can.”

No doubt her enthusiasm rubs off on colleagues, too. She mentors other science teachers through her membership in the National Science Teachers Association. She is the state coordinator for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and she is serving as a curator to find resources that support the Next Generation Science Standards.