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Lauren Menger Wins Grant
posted by: Cindy Omlin | March 01, 2016, 09:18 PM   

lauren menger.pngMs. Menger tries to include as many high energy and engaging activities as she can to accommodate her “wiggly” students. She plans to use the grant funds to purchase a class set of "fidgeting foot bands," and three "Fitball Seating Discs" which offer support for high energy students. Students can use the fidgeting bands to kick, pull, or push with their legs. “Many kids find comfort in movement and can focus better if a part of their body is moving. The seating discs also help students who have trouble learning while sitting. They allow the students to move around in a traditional seat and strengthen their core muscles at the same time.”  The bands are designed to give students a way to move their legs while sitting down and would enable many students to focus better. The discs would also help her students who need extra wiggle room.

Helping students changing their lives and achieve their dreams is Ms. Menger’s goal as an educator.  Prior to becoming an educator she worked for ten years as a successful professional ballet dancer despite being discouraged by many teachers to quit.  She attributes her success not to pure talent, but because of her will to succeed and hard work. She persevered and had an extraordinary career that spanned ten years and six states. She states that the best place that her dancing career took her was the field of education. “I wanted to share my journey to success with young people. I wanted to let children know that it doesn't matter what you come into school with. What matters is how determined you are and how hard you work. I lived a life with this ‘growth mindset’ and now I try to instill the same in my children. I praise students for hard work. I share with them that they can learn anything, with the right amount of dedication and hard work. . . I want to tell students that they can achieve any dream with the right attitude. I am living proof.” 

The field of education has included surprises for Ms. Menger, one being how widespread poverty is.  “I was not prepared for how many parents were unable to even see their children at night because they were working so many jobs. I couldn't communicate with many of my parents because they were homeless and didn't have phones. These students were not having their basic needs (food and shelter) met. They were not coming in to school in a state where they were ‘ready to learn.’”  To improve her ability to meet the needs of her students, Ms. Menger read up on poverty and applied as many of the suggested teaching techniques as she could.  She developed relationships with her students and became another adult who was “on their side.” 

Mandatory professional development over the summer in addition to the credits required for re-certification is Ms. Menger’s suggestion for raising the professionalism of educators.  She says that to be a change agent, educators truly need to be practicing what we preach. “The biggest criticism of our profession is how teachers have the summers off. If the public knew that teachers attend professional development over the summer, they would understand teachers' commitment to their students.”  She believes that there are not enough offerings in the summer , a time which provides the opportunity for teachers to learn when they are relaxed and have the he time to think about their practice. “Implementing something as easy as making it mandatory to attend two professional development sessions is a great start. It would require more classes to be offered, and it would re-inspire all teachers over the summer. As technology evolves so can our teaching. The summer is a perfect time to expand our repertoire of teaching knowledge.”

NWPE applauds Ms. Menger for her consummate dedication to meet the needs of all learners in her classroom and to constantly push herself to advance her own professionalism.  It is a privilege to serve her as a member of NWPE.

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