Amy Zimmer, Penn High School Exceptional Education Teacher, learned in a surprise pop-in video call on Friday, May 1 that she had been named P-H-M’s 2020 Secondary Teacher of the Year. Penn-Harris-Madison Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker surprised Amy by joining a Google video Hangout meeting she was having with a colleague. Click to watch the video below …
Amy teaches Applied Biology/Life Skills Science at Penn High School working with Exceptional Education students. Amy jointed P-H-M in 2015 from School City of Mishawaka where she worked as an Exceptional teacher 23 years in a variety of roles from preschool and elementary to middle school. Amy was even named School City of Mishawaka Teacher of the Year in 1998 when she was an Ex Ed teacher at then Beiger Junior High School.
Amy’s devotion to her students is well recognized and admired by her fellow teachers, “She has provided hundreds of Exceptional Education students with the best learning experience not only concerning academics, also but their wellbeing,” said Colleen Gish Penn High School teacher who nominated Amy for the award. “Amy works tirelessly as a teacher, case manager, CPS liaison, special need's advocate, and team-player (substituting for her colleagues).”
Teaching Applied Biology/Life Skills Science at Penn, Amy looks for opportunities to expose her students to “maximize each student’s potential, whatever that potential may be.” This school year, she piloted a program with her students and local non-profit Cultivate Food Rescue. Once a month, a team of Penn Exceptional Education students volunteered at Cultivate learning how to process and package food in a commercial kitchen facility while following health and safety protocol. This unique learning experience as Amy describes it “allows students to develop citizenship and leadership skills as well as many important life skills. To date, my Exceptional Education students have packaged 1,696 balanced meals for underprivileged kindergarten and first grade students participating in Cultivate’s Backpack Program.” Through this program, students are learning so much more than how to do a job, Amy says her students “have gained a sense of pride in their work, possessed a feeling of satisfaction knowing they are helping children.” Little did Amy and her students know that the 300 meals they helped package on their last visit to Cultivate on March 9th would go to help students and families affected by the COVID-19 school shutdowns and the Shelter in Place order.
There’s no doubt about the passion Amy has for her students, stating “It takes a village and at Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, we prioritize the collaboration of students, parents and teachers. … I incorporate the Triangle of Success model when developing differentiated instruction for my science lessons. … By utilizing all of the resources and supports available, I guide and connect students to opportunities, services, experiences, personnel, and programs.”
Amy along with P-H-M’s Elementary Teacher of the Year, Jessie Kinney, will be considered for the honor of the Indiana Teacher of the Year. Both P-H-M Teachers of the Year will receive a $500 classroom grant from P-H-M’s Education Foundation.