By Amy Howe
Amanda Royster’s path to teaching started at a young age, when she was influenced by Anne of Green Gables from the age of four. “She was the first fictional character I remember falling completely in love with,” said Amanda. “I watched Anne of Green Gables on repeat with my grandmother, who babysat me while my mom was at work. I couldn’t get enough of her story. Anne was clever, hard-working, independent. She was a reader and eventually a teacher. She was, simply put, everything I wanted to be.”
Ultimately, it was Amanda’s high school language arts and gifted teacher, Anne Nicolas, who inspired her to teach. “She was brilliant–undoubtedly the most intellectually curious adult I had met at that point in my life,” said Amanda. “Even more impressive than her content knowledge was her ability to meet her students where they were and support them however she could. Before I walked into Ms. Nic’s room, my perception of the teaching profession was incomplete. Anne Nicolas showed me the why. She is why I am here, investing in kids in the same building she invested in me.”
Amanda hasn’t always been a library media specialist. She was a language arts teacher for 11 of her 12 years of teaching. When she made the change from the language arts classroom to the library this year, her biggest fear was that she would miss out on the student connections she forged in the classroom. Little did she know the move to the library would open a floodgate of opportunities to connect with even more students and, additionally, more teachers. “In the library, I hear the pulse of our building more clearly now, and I am so grateful to support and serve a broader audience of both students and teachers than ever before.”
There is no denying Amanda loves what she does and it’s also no surprise she was named District Teacher of the Year. She has always been passionate about her content area and about reading, but it’s the students she gets to see every day that make her job worth getting up for in the mornings. “Investing in their success and helping them see how valuable they are is the most rewarding and meaningful part of my job,” said Amanda.
While it’s Amanda’s job to do the teaching, her students have definitely taught her a thing or two. “My students have taught me the importance of taking time to see the full individual and not just what I think I have time for or what fits my personal agenda,” she said. “When I started teaching, I was hyper-focused on my curriculum. My ultimate priority was how much material we covered each day. What I failed to acknowledge was that students come to school every day weighed down by unimaginable burdens. My kids have taught me the importance of grace and the importance of being a dependable source of support and welcoming.”
Calling Carl Junction home is easy for Amanda. She values that the families here are relentlessly committed to their school and the quality of education their students receive. “The community’s investment in our district makes Carl Junction School’s commitment to excellence in education possible,” said Amanda. “As a teacher, I feel supported and valued, and as a parent and community member, I am proud of the school as a driving force of good in our community.”
Amanda’s biggest focus outside of school is her husband, Cameron, and daughter, Cora. Most days, she is driving her daughter back and forth from the dance studio where she is a company member. Amanda also sponsors Book Club at the high school, and she and her husband lead a pre-teen Sunday school class at their church.
Article by Amy Howe