National Louis University alumna Beth Maloney (B.A. Elementary Education ’01, M.Ed. Administration and Supervision ’05) was recently named the Arizona Teacher of the Year for 2014. Beth teaches 5th grade at Sunset Hills Elementary School in Surprise, AZ. Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Beth about being named Arizona Teacher of the Year.
What led you to teaching? Did you always want to be a teacher?
No. I thought I wanted to be a vet. I’ve always loved animals and I thought for sure that’s what I wanted to be. As I entered into my college years I was interested in communications and PR. Then one year I worked at a YMCA summer camp and I was just having so much fun hanging out with the kids all day. Then it dawned on me — I’m meant to be a teacher.
How did you feel when you were named Arizona Teacher of the Year?
It still feels unreal. It’s such an amazing honor and such a big responsibility at the same time. I just feel really privileged that I’m able to represent the teachers of Arizona and, to an extent, the teachers of America. It’s just amazing. It feels absolutely wonderful.
There are a lot of factors that the Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF) take into consideration when naming the teacher of the year. What do you think the AEF saw in you?
I have a lot of enthusiasm for my students and learning in general. I love to learn and I think that enthusiasm is naturally conveyed to my students. I hope that I leave them with a sense of – learning doesn’t stop just because you’re not in school – learning is something you do because you have a thirst for it and you have questions that you want answered. I use a lot of technology in my teaching and I think they (AEF) really appreciated that aspect of what I do.
Can you talk about your time at NLU and how it helped shape your career?
I truly feel like my NLU education gave me so much more preparation for becoming a classroom teacher than my peers got from other institutions. So I will forever credit NLU for graduating me as a prepared teacher because I think a lot of people don’t always get that experience from their universities and I always feel very lucky for that.
I loved that a lot of my classes were small. To me, I got all the individual attention that I wanted. I got to know people in my classes and to me that is what was so special about NLU. I wasn’t just one of 90 kids in a class. My professors knew me and I knew them.