Teacher of the Week: Penny Tibben

Teacher of the Week: Penny Tibben

Meet PENNY TIBBEN, who followed her mother into a teaching career. After teaching pre-school for a year, Tibben stepped away to help her husband — Pastor KENT TIBBEN, of Danville's Trinity Lutheran Church — while he finished his master's degree and seminary studies and raise their four children.

Tibben — who volunteered in her children's classrooms and worked as a part-time teacher's aide — returned to the classroom full-time at Danville Lutheran School in 2003.

"As a Lutheran teacher, I get to teach about Jesus, not just in religion," says Tibben, who taught second grade for 10 years, fifth grade for two and has been teaching a combined third- and fourth-grade classroom for the last five. "I get to connect Jesus to all of the subjects."

One unique thing about my classroom is ... we're a combined third- and fourth-grade class. I teach some subjects together — religion, English and science. Then I go back and forth between the two grades for the other subjects. It gives fourth-graders a good review, and third-graders keep an ear open for what the fourth-grade is learning. It's a fun group to teach.

My favorite subject to teach is ... besides religion, reading. I love to read, and I hope they see that and it catches on. Children need to be good readers to be able to learn.

A fun unit we're doing is ... reading "Charlotte's Web" together. They're also writing their own booklets — "All about pigs" or "All about spiders." They must include seven facts about (their topic). So, they're learning to research information on the internet. It incorporates writing sentences and learning how to paraphrase someone else's written work.

My favorite pastime (other than grading, of course) is ... spending time with our children and grandson, who's three. Two of my four kids are in the military at Ft. Bragg, (North Carolina), and one of them married someone in the military. He was a Ranger instructor and is now working at Fort Atterbury, Indiana. We have another son who lives in Catlin. My grandson knows how to FaceTime grandma. He always says, "Put it on speaker." It's not as good as being there, but it keeps us connected. We've been doing a painting project together.

This summer, I'm looking forward to ... the birth of our granddaughter. My daughter is having a little girl at the end of June. We're hoping to get there before the birth to help out.

If I weren't a teacher, I would ... be perfectly happy being a mom. I have a plaque on my desk that says, "Mom life is the best life." I tell my students that no matter what job they have, that's the most important job they can do — being a mother or a father.

Submit your nominations

On Wednesdays, we’ll spotlight an area educator who is making a difference in the classroom and community. To nominate, email N-G schools writer Lyndsay Jones at ljones@news-gazette.com or tweet her (@__lyndsayjones).

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