TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Amy Wiedenfeld’s phonics lesson creates independent readers

Published 4:00 am Friday, January 28, 2022

This article is part of a series by The Vicksburg Post, in partnership with the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, featuring each of the nominees for teacher of the year honors.

Amy Wiedenfeld said her students learn critical reading skills with the daily phonic lesson that accommodates different learning styles. Wiedenfeld, a first-grade teacher at Dana Road Elementary, uses various activities and exercises to build a foundation for her students to become independent readers.

“In first grade, phonics is a critical skill as students transition from being read to to reading independently,” Wiedenfeld said.

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Wiedenfeld is a finalist for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Educator of the Year award. The chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon, which has been rescheduled to Mar. 1. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union. 

Wiedenfeld began teaching in 2008 as a first-grade teacher at Kaiser Elementary in Houston, Texas. Starting in 2011, she taught at Spanish Lake Primary in Geismar, La., as a first-grade teacher. Wiedenfeld then began teaching at Dana Road Elementary in 2019 as a second-grade teacher and then in 2020 as a first-grade teacher. 

Wiedenfeld received a Bachelor of Science degree in human development and family studies at Texas Tech University in 2007. She then completed 15 hours worth of graduate-level coursework for elementary education at Texas Tech University in 2008.

Students begin their phonics lesson with a song and exercise routine that reviews letters and sounds, said Wiedenfeld. The next phases include students using the classroom carpet to build words and review the spelling list or using the smartboard to highlight patterns in the spelling words, as mentioned in her Educator of the Year application. 

Wiedenfeld stated that her students help during the lesson, such as student leaders during the word building process and peer helpers assisting when it is time for everyone to return to their desk and practice writing words on their whiteboards.

“At this moment, the entire classroom is alive with learning,” she said.