Faces in the Crowd: Audra West
Audra West was nominated by teachers and staff at Black Hawk Elementary and received the title of RCAS and Rapid City Public Foundation Teacher of the Year. She is making a big impression on young minds and hearts.
Growing up, Audra West felt called to be a teacher. She would often play pretend teacher as a child and she knew life as an educator was her future.
Her approach to education is to make students feel like family.
Audra West, 4th grade teacher at Black Hawk Elementary, says, “Learning is – can be tough. School can be tough for any child and I just want them to know that they have a place that they feel loved and welcomed and safe and they are always going to have teachers in their corner.”
She wants to engage students in a different way of learning, so she turned her classroom into a coffee shop with a laid back feel to get the juices flowing while holding onto the basics like grammar, language, and artistic expression.
West says, “Poetry is a different way of expressing yourself, so I’m trying to think outside of the box a little bit but still stay within my perimeter of my requirements, but just being able to write friendly letters, knowing how to address envelopes and postcards.”
While teachers encompass many attributes, Audra says that being flexible while having fun and building relationships is important along with good communication skills.
“Because some days are wonderful and other days are complete messes and just a good teacher is able to learn from even our own mistakes and change directions and be right on top of it the next day again,” says West.
She involves students in her process and they even helped to write part of her nomination essay.
West adds, “It’s the little things and the little moments with these students that make such a big difference to me. That’s neat that I just have that connection with them, that they know I’m a teacher but I’m a mom, I’m a human being and we are all in this together.”
West says she is humbled by the award and now will be eligible for the Regional Teacher of the Year Contest.