Jun 1, 2011 4:50 PM by Andy Koen

5th grade teacher motivated by his struggles as a student

You'll notice two things when you walk in to Justin Shue's 5th grade class at Goodnight Elementary in the Pueblo City School District.

First, his kids don't stay seated for very long. "Students when the come to school they want to move and they want to talk," Shue explains. "What to teachers spend most of their time doing? Trying to shut that down when in actuality, that's almost a physiological need."

Instead of fighting Mother Nature, Shue encourages his students to get up and talk with each other. For example, during a recent civics lesson the students were each given a note card with either an amendment to the US Constitution or an example of an injustice that would violate an amendment. Their task was to find the other student in the room with a corresponding note card.

"It's a win - win, kids are happier, they're more engaged and we get our objectives met at a higher level."

The other thing you'll notice along the walls are books, lots of them. Each year Shue buys about $5,000 worth of new books, mostly novels, to give away to his kids before the start of summer. They celebrate with an all night "Read-a-thon" at the school on the last day of the year.

"I want to make a difference, I do," Shue says. "I want to get up every day and I don't want to go to a job that has no impact."

In fact, Shue see his work as a calling rather than a job. He loves teaching even though he hated school when he was a student.

"I know it sounds like it should be the opposite effect but for some reason when I overcame it, it was more endearing to me and it made me more attracted to it as a profession."

For having the heart of a teacher that he shares everyday, Justin Shue is our May Teachers First award winner.

The school year may be over, but we are still accepting nominations during the summer. Click here to download a nomination form and instructions.


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