Hoover High School may be the smallest of the five high schools in Des Moines, but their teachers have been earning some big recognitions this year.
This summer, Amber Davison was honored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute as the 2021 Iowa History Teacher of the Year.
And this week, Sarah Hamilton is being presented with the 2021 High School Teacher of Excellence Award from the Iowa Council of Teachers of English. Hamilton teaches both English and serves as the journalism advisor at Hoover.
“The support of the Hoover staff makes my job as an English teacher and journalism advisor easy,” said Hamilton. “The staff’s encouragement and willingness to open their classroom doors to my students for interviews, photos and stories makes our publication program and English department better as students are provided an opportunity to grow and shine. As an educator, I am most proud of providing opportunities for my students to find their passion and to have their voices heard.”
This award recognizes an excellent veteran high school language arts teacher who demonstrates exceptional literacy interaction with students and implements innovative pedagogy. Hamilton was nominated for the honor by Hoover principal Sherry Poole.
“Being an English teacher and journalism advisor is the best job in the world,” Hamilton added. “As a high school journalism advisor, the instructional approaches I use place my students into real world situations. My classroom structure mimics a newsroom. The students must brainstorm stories, interview, write, edit and design pages for our school newspaper and Web site. The students are in charge of everything from start to finish and work in teams to create a 30+ page newspaper, daily news broadcast, 160+ page yearbook and regularly updated Web site.”
Hamilton’s recognition at the state level for her support of journalism education comes at the same time as a more global honor for the field: late last week it was announced that two journalists (one in the Philippines and one in Russia) were the recipients of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Hamilton points to teachers she had as a student at Des Moines Public Schools as inspiration for her work today: “As an English teacher, it is my goal to help my students find a love of reading and writing because that is what my teachers did. Whether it was my teachers at Jefferson Elementary School, Brody Middle School or my journalism advisor Mr. Pilcher at Lincoln High School, I was able to find my love of reading and writing and that is the same feeling I want for my students. I decided to become a teacher because I wanted to inspire students to love writing.”
Hamilton is being presented with her award at the Iowa Council of Teachers of English Fall Conference on Thursday.