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Student motivation was the goal of a dedicated teacher

“Students need rigor in every subject and every way of life.”

Tepakung Yang, Editor

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Erickson laughs with Ayan Osman

“Students need to challenge themselves in their academics because getting an “A” should not be the goal in school.”

The words of Susan Erickson, teacher of English Language Learners, shows her philosophy about the purpose of education.
“It’s learning something new every day,” Erickson says.
And this spring, after 15 years of teaching, Erickson will retire from the district. She hopes that support for ELL students continues as that population grows.
“I hope that teachers use the drive we have to fight for kids. Our district must support English Learner students here with staff, materials and rigorous coursework at the student’s level. They need to be instructed in their English reading, and writing, speaking and listening skills every day to achieve fluency and also focus on important subjects.”
She believes they need to be supported to their highest level of abilities.
“We know these kids and their families are valuable to the community and contribute so much as individuals to all aspects of the culture here at Bay Port.”
As a UW-Madison student, Erickson wanted to be a veterinarian since she has always liked animals, but she discovered her interest in the field of education as an accident.
“One time some students needed some materials from the Ed. building so as I was waiting in line, I grabbed some brochures that looked interesting and started reading. Education looked fun so I took the brochures to my dorm and applied for the Education program. It was right up my alley.”
Erickson got her first position in the Howard-Suamico school district as an elementary teacher. Erickson was asked to help with Ukrainian students who had just moved into the district.
Love for teaching is not limited to the connection with students but fellow teachers.
“I remember Mrs. Sutrick and I would share peanut M&Ms because they were our favorites. We loved them and through this we got to share stories about family heritage and stories about our students. It was a really nice bond.”
District theme, “What’s your story?” is about understanding one another through the importance storytelling. Erickson recalls students who were not ELL students having a bad day. She would invite them into her classroom and ask them what’s wrong.
She said, “I get to hear so many stories. There are no big “ah-ha” stories. These kids have the same stories but they just come from different places.”

Erickson believes that the most rewarding thing about being a teacher is the students. “As a teacher you don’t know what you’re going to get but it’s students who come in and do all the work. I am sad that I will not be teaching,” she said. “I’m going to miss the daily conversations with students and the learning that takes place.
However, Erickson does wish that students here in our district were more welcoming and friendly to one another. Erickson promotes the idea of diversity and opening oneself to be exposed to different cultures.
“My students are awesome! These kids ooze potential. They can be so overlooked and have so much to give and have so much insight that others don’t have. And it’s too bad that as a group in our school community are often not given the chance to be promoted– to be heard.”
Erickson’s husband works for an airline company. There was news coming out in early January, and they were unsure whether or not her family may have to move because of her husband’s job. This was the main reason for her decision to retire.Her husband will still be working and she plans to relax, using her free time to pick up reading and traveling again.
“I miss sitting and reading for hours. I miss going places within a hundred miles of my home. I have humongous plans to travel to the Amazon, New Zealand, Australia, and Italy, maybe a warm climate somewhere not in the states.”
As of right now, Erickson does not believe that she will be doing any odd jobs or substituting.
“I’m thinking I’m going to be working but I don’t know what yet. I might go back to volunteering. I used to do that a lot.”
Her final message, she that she shares to her students plan to attend college post high school, “I know they believe in themselves; they are very determined kids. I’ll miss every one of them.”

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