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We’re highlighting a teacher every Wednesday as a part of the #RedForEd campaign.

Every year is a great year to celebrate our teachers, but this year has shined a bright light on the flexibility and compassion of our incredible staff.

Today we’re highlighting Mrs. Annie Bacon, an English teacher at Otter Creek Middle School.

What motivates you?

My students motivate me beyond belief.  I absolutely live for their “aha” moments when light bulbs go off.  These moments motivate me to create engaging lessons that are educational but also fun. I am motivated by their laughter.  While I am their biggest cheerleader working to empower them, build their confidence and create a safe space for them to learn, they might not realize that their enthusiasm and excitement in my room is like them being cheerleaders for me. I listen to them and try to adapt lessons and activities around their interests. They have motivated me to create tips and tricks so they can better understand things I am teaching. My students motivate me to think outside the box and teach material in ways that are innovative and educational but exciting all at the same time. They truly motivate me daily to be a better teacher.

My family motivates me. My mother was a teacher in Vigo County for many years. She taught with empathy, compassion and used innovative ways to teach lessons. My dad motivates me because he always has a way of breaking down information so it is easy to understand. In my classroom, I too try to break down information in a way that is easy for my students to comprehend.  My own children motivate me. It is through them that I am reminded that all young minds learn differently. I treat my students how I would want my own children to be treated. A huge motivation of mine is my husband. He listens to me streamline ideas for lessons, is quick to run to the store if I need something for a class activity and encourages me daily.

My colleagues motivate me tremendously.  Their dedication to education and the stellar things they do in their classrooms motivate me.  We truly work as a family.  It is in their laughter, wisdom and support that I find motivation. They motivate me to be a better person, teacher and colleague.

I attended Vigo County K-12th grade, and I was taught by some of the best teachers.  Their patience and ability to empower me as a young adult motivates me to do the same for my students in my classroom.

How has your job changed due to COVID?
COVID changed so many things.  I had to adjust quickly to new technology. I spent a lot of time learning how to navigate Canvas.  Teaching remotely, I had to become more creative in how I delivered my lessons.  I created a teacher YouTube page to help facilitate remote learning.  Some activities I usually do had to be planned out differently due to social distancing. Another big change has been not being able to see my students’ smiles due to them wearing masks.  You don’t realize how much you rely upon the smiles or laughter of your students to gauge how they feel or how a lesson is going. While masks are important, I have had to find other ways to gauge if kids are happy or engaged.

What is something that people don’t understand about your job?
I don’t think people understand how much we work behind the scenes. Teaching is not a job I just leave at 3:15. Sometimes I bring the struggles of my students home with me.  I worry about my students.  I might be worrying if a kid had dinner that night or maybe I am worrying if a student grasped what I taught that day. I don’t think people realize how much goes into what we do or how much we spend out of our own pockets for the greater good of our kids. To many of us, teaching is not just a “job.” It is our passion.  We love what we do and think of our students like they are our own.

Why do you love VCSC/your school?
I absolutely love working at Otter Creek. I really feel as if I work for the best principal and assistant principal.   Principal Gore and Assistant Principal Thoma are amazing leaders. Our entire staff is one big support system for our students and for each other. It is in this support system that a happy work environment exists. I absolutely love my colleagues and feel as if we all build each other up. We all have the same goal, which is to serve our community by inspiring and teaching generations of our youth. It is a true joy to go to work every single day not only loving what you do but  also loving whom you work with. I really believe our students see and feel that from us. A happy environment is created all around, which leads to a positive learning environment for our students.

Be sure to check back on #Staffurday–Saturday, that is–as we recognize members of our non-teaching staff. We’ll continue both campaigns through the end of the school year.