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Eisenhower's Terrian named Teacher of the Year

School celebrates innovative educator in its midst

Sept. 10, 2012

Fourth-grade teacher Nancy Terrian was met with an uproar of cheers and applause when she walked into the Eisenhower Elementary School in Wauwatosa on Wednesday. The reason quickly became apparent.

"While there are many outstanding educators and teachers in Wisconsin, right here in Wauwatosa is one of the most outstanding teachers this year," state Superintendent Tony Evers said of the Pewaukee resident after she met him up on stage. "All these people have come here today to tell that teacher something very important. We're here to say 'thank you.' "

Terrian was named Elementary Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Department of Education, winning a $3,000 grant from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation in the process.

With her family at her side, Terrian was quick to share the credit: "There are some people here that could get this honor. I work with so many amazing people. Most importantly, Eisenhower youth are the greatest people, and this is the greatest place to work by far."

Taking her own approach

Terrian has been in the business of teaching on and off for the past 20 years, always at Eisenhower. She graduated from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor's of science in elementary education and a master's of art in teaching from Aurora University in Illinois.

She's known for a unique teaching technique that's been called Terrian's Territory - she acts as mayor of her classroom and her students apply for jobs, earn classroom money and even purchase insurance.

"Terrian's Territory is a classroom community that starts the first day the kids walk through the door. It's about learning from a community and each other, with mutual respect. The motto is: Be safe, be kind, keep everyone in mind. I am the mayor of the community. Students can apply for jobs like banker, computer specialist, deejay or board cleaner. Right now I'm accepting the applications and letters of reference. It's a real-life environment where kids learn to become responsible, safe and respectful. What's really cool is that the relationships that are built from this community are priceless."

Education runs in Terrian's family. Her father was a teacher at Wauwatosa East High School for 18 years and her mother was an educator as well. Both were coaches and involved her in sports from a young age. She enjoys tennis, having played in many Pro-Am tournaments to help raise money for high school tennis programs.

Connected with her fellows

Kristin Bowers, Eisenhower principal, said Terrian is a collaborative teacher who does a lot of work with her colleagues.

"One of the things I admire most about Nancy is her passion for her students," Bowers said. "She tries really hard to get to know them, to know their families, and it really helps benefit their learning."

Terrian won a Herb Kohl Educational Foundation fellowship last year, which put her in the running for the Teacher of the Year award, competing with 99 other teachers.

"I am so proud to be a teacher, and it has been an honor to work with every student in the past 20 years. This award is an amazing thing, but I accept this for every teacher who is out there and does incredible things for students," she said. "I encourage young people to go into this profession. It can be difficult, but it is the most positive, rewarding profession in the world."

The winners

The DPI names four Teacher of the Year winners annually. The 2012 winners are:

Special Services Teacher of the Year - Linda Bergh, school counselor at Eagle Point Elementary School in the DeForest School District

High School Teacher of the Year - JoAnn Miller, science and biology teacher at Oconto Falls High School in the Oconto Falls School District

Middle School Teacher of the Year - Amy Traynor, math teacher at DeLong Middle School in the Eau Claire Area School District

Elementary School Teacher of the Year - Nancy Terrian, third- and fourth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School in the Wauwatosa School District

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