Kristin Schlegel was recently named the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Milford Central Academy in Milford, DE.
With a Bachelor of Arts in French with an Economics Minor, Wittenberg University, Schlegel earned her Teaching Certification through ARTC, University of Delaware. She began her career with the Milford School District in 1998 as a French Teacher at the Milford Middle School and in 2007 became a Social Studies teacher as she transitioned into the Milford Central Academy.
“Being named teacher of the year brings on a mix of emotions. I am humbled by the recognition and so profoundly grateful to be working in Milford at the Central Academy,” said Schlegel. “There is such an incredible team of teachers there that support each other, teach each other, and work tirelessly to put the needs of our students first. Any one of my neighbors in teaching is also deserving of this recognition.”
When Schlegel was younger, she dreamed of becoming an astronaut. It was not until later, after careers in other fields and her own children had started school that teaching became her passion and her calling.
“I remember volunteering in my son’s kindergarten classroom and seeing how his teacher skillfully molded opportunities for curiosity and learning into every moment of her students’ day,” she said. “I could see the moment the spark of an idea took hold like a light in a child’s face. I wanted to understand that process. Now I spend each day trying to reveal that process to my students. I want them to understand how their own learning happens.”
Schlegel believes the new and different challenges and opportunities that each day brings are the best part about teaching. “ Every day is different. That might also fit into the category of what’s the worst thing about teaching. It is exciting though to be surrounded by young people. They are spontaneous, curious, genuine. There are days when it can be difficult but no one goes into teaching without enjoying a challenge,” she said. “There is a magic that happens a few months into the school year, when kids have procedures and day to day operations mastered. Suddenly you look out into your classroom or in the hall and you realize they have grown. Not just in size, but in maturity, confidence, empathy. And it translates into challenging concepts and materials in the classroom. They can really dig into a new unit with questions and skills that let them dive deep into meaning.”
Through the COVID-19 crisis, Schlegel believes the public has begun to grasp some of the challenges of teaching in recent weeks. “It was difficult at the beginning for teachers to adjust mentally, physically, and professionally. Our minds and bodies are so conditioned to our daily school routine – time segments, duty schedules, long hours on our feet, constantly fielding questions, where we at least have answers mostly prepared, and the constant sea of faces around us,” she said. “My first few weeks at home were a disaster. Now, we have a routine of sorts, but no teacher that I talk to is comfortable where we are. So I think it is important for everyone to know that whatever change is coming in terms of education, every teacher that I know will be working hard to adapt, prepare, and work every day with the needs of all of our students in mind. It’s a slow process sometimes, but I work with some of the most creative thinkers I have ever seen.”