On my first day of class at Arrowhead High School, I still remember what class I was most nervous about - geometry. I knew none of my friends would be in that class, and there wouldn’t be many freshmen, mainly sophomores. But as soon as I stepped into Mrs. Obermann’s classroom, she gave me a warm welcome and asked how I was.
I said “Hi, I’m okay, nervous for the first day, though. How about yourself?”
She told me, “I’m great. And you have nothing to be nervous about.”
It really made me feel welcome. She also knew my sister and asked about how she was doing, which made me nervous because my sister and I are complete opposites. (My sister was popular and a handful, and I’m not popular, quiet and pretty well behaved.) I was scared she was going to think we were the same and treat us like the same kid, because that has happened in the past with other teachers. But she treated me like my own person and we really bonded over The Office. One of her classes even made her a Dundie (it’s an award from the show), which I thought was so cool. She really deserved it too because of how easy she made math.
She had a policy where if you didn’t have time to complete the homework, then you could turn it in before the end of the unit with full credit. I appreciated this. She understood that we had other classes and activities and she didn’t want us to stress over getting the one geometry assignment done.
She would make sure everyone was comfortable asking questions in class. She would answer questions in a way that would make us feel proud of taking the risk of asking the question. If anyone said anything about how a question was stupid, she would instantly stick up for them, saying there is no stupid questions.
She also told us about a kid who didn’t ask for help because he said, “only stupid kids ask for help.” She told him asking for help is one of the smartest things a kid can do when they don’t understand something. It made me feel better about asking for help, and it’s okay if I don’t understand something. What matters is that I find a way to understand it - whether I ask a question or come in for help.
Mrs. Obermann would let me come into her room during my seventh hour study hall because I didn’t like the big cafeteria study hall. She would let me work on whatever I wanted as long as it was class work. She not only helped me with my two math classes, but she also helped me with my science homework too - I would explain the project and what I needed her help and she would always clear things up and give me the equations to solve the problem. I was always excited for study hall because I knew if needed help on anything, Mrs. Obermann would do everything she could to help. It was admirable for her to take time out of her day to help me with a class she didn’t teach. She didn’t care what I needed help on, she would always do as much as she could to help.
Not only did she care about every kid in her classes, but she also cared about her two daughters. She would show us pictures of them and talk about the cute things they did this week - like how they called high school “big kid school.”
Mrs. Obermann is someone I really look up to and want to be like in the future. She truly cares for each student that walks into the door and does her best to help them. She has a job that she loves and wouldn’t trade it for anything. She will always be in my heart and will forever be my favorite math teacher.
The start of sophomore year at Arrowhead High School was one of the hardest times. I moved from Lincoln, Nebraska to Hartland, Wisconsin—a place I had never seen nor heard of. I drove up from Nebraska one day and the next day, went to a new school.
At my prior school, I was advanced in math and was put into classes with sophomores and juniors when I was a freshman. I was one of the brightest students and math came easily. When I moved to Arrowhead, everything changed. I was with students my own age that were intelligent and more advanced. I felt behind and I never would have gotten through 10th grade precalculus if it weren’t for Mrs. Obermann.
Mrs. Obermann is a caring, compassionate, and committed teacher who looked out for me and helped me when I needed it most. She understood how hard the move was for me and often asked, “How are you doing today, Bennett?”
When I felt like I asked a basic and dumb question, she never laughed at me; she was happy to answer my questions. She also was patient when I didn’t understand where she got a variable, an answer, or even a simple addition.
Precalculus at Arrowhead was the first math class I ever struggled in. I remember getting tests back that were almost half the score of what I would have averaged in Nebraska. Yet, everytime, Mrs. Obermann was there reassuring me we would figure it out. She was a generous, genuine, and giving teacher.
I remember walking into her classroom seventh period just to ask a question and never once did she tell me she didn’t have time or that she was too busy.
I would walk in and say, “Hey, Mrs. O, do you have time for a question or two?” or “I have no clue what I’m doing on this. Can you please help?” And her response was almost always, “of course I can help you” or “what do you not understand exactly?” She always made sure I got what I needed and never told me she was too busy to help (even though I came in nearly everyday).
She not only taught me math, but she also taught me how to show people compassion, and taught me to help people because everyone needs someone in their life that they can ask for help.
Mrs. Obermann is everything I look for in a teacher: kind and caring, but fun. She always wanted students to feel comfortable and made sure each student got what they needed.
Mrs. Obermann helped me struggle through sophomore year a little less and I am so thankful for everything she did to help me and my peers to have the best learning experience.
To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.