To begin, I would like to nominate Mrs. Rienstra for this award, because not only has she dedicated and devoted 28.5 years of her life to educating students but has volunteered on her own time during lunch and on nights and weekends to helping her math students. Whether it is coming up with catchy math tunes, songs, and/or phrases to help her students remember math equations, helping them with their homework during lunch, quizzing them for a test or exam, or prepping them for the ACT or SAT, Mrs. Rienstra goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to teaching. She has done so much to ensure that her students succeed in not only the classroom but in life, that she has even helped many of them after they've gone on and graduated, myself included. Whether it's helping a student apply for college or a job or helping them get daycare assistance for their child so they can attend school, she realizes and shows that her role as a teacher and role model goes far beyond the classroom.
I personally had Mrs. Rienstra as my high school math teacher for all four years of high school and I am a better person because of her. When I initially came in her class, I was switched out of another teachers class because I literally could not comprehend or connect with his teaching style. I had already struggled in math and was on a downward spiral in his classroom to keep up with the material and was in tears almost daily, so I asked to switch out of it and my advisor said she knew the perfect teacher to place me with because of my bubbly personality and that teacher was.... Mrs. Rienstra!
At first I didn't know what to think but I walked into the class and all I see is this petite woman with glasses and a big smile on her face and I'm just waiting for her to size me up to see where I'd fit in, but she told me to find an open seat and so I did just that hoping I'd blend in as to not draw too much attention to myself, but that didn't last long because Mrs. Rienstra was so engaging and welcoming that she made me feel like I had been in her class the entire time. She would come up with the funniest little math songs for the class to remember the equations to the math problems and before I knew it I was engaged, excited, and eager for the first time in my life about something I hated so much.... Math. I was constantly asking her questions and raising my hand to tell her when I didn't understand something she'd already explained 5 times, and even though I could tell everyone else in class was annoyed by my constant questions, it didn't matter to her because she was so patient and wanted to make sure EVERYONE got it. It was like all my fears and insecurities about math had washed away, and she instilled a confidence and security in me with math I never knew I had. I truly felt like I could do anything.
Before I knew it I was in her class every single day during lunch for the next four years doing math and even when I didn't need the help I was still in there. Mrs. Rienstra was my math teacher until I graduated from high school. She helped me through some very tough times in my life, like when I was homeless in high school and would have to leave my backpack in her class with my personal belongings in it or when I needed a math tutor for my daughter because she was struggling with math. The kindness, compassion, and patience she shows to her students is not something you can teach but rather qualities one posses naturally when they are passionate about their craft as she is.
I have been out of school for some time now, but was so blessed by the impact and impression Mrs. Rienstra had on my life, that I actually enrolled my daughter in the same school district I attended, just so she too could have Mrs. Rienstra. I am blessed to know her and can only hope and pray my daughter has the opportunity to have her as a teacher and share my same experience.
Mrs. Rienstra embodies what it means to be a phenomenal teacher, yet is so humble that she does so without looking for any praise or recognition, when it is so well deserved. I could go on and on about how truly amazing she is, but nothing compares to being in her prescence. Thank you for your time.