National Family Literacy 2003 in Long Beach!


Setsuko Toyama

Karen Stanley

Jerry Esfeld

Peggy Hull

Says No to
English Only


/ Index /
/ Letters /
/ Search /

for free!

ESL MiniConference Online!

Achievement Profile: Jerry Esfeld
Finding Something Special in Every Student

Ms. Jerry Esfeld started teaching fourth grade at Jefferson Elementary School, in Great Bend, Kansas, 37 years ago. She is retired, but continues to teach the same grade at the same school, part-time, in the mornings. The interviewer must admit there is significant bias in stating that Mrs. Esfeld is the best teacher in the world--35 years ago, she was his fourth grade teacher at Jefferson. Some of the things the interviewer remembers about that year, 1967, include Mrs. Esfeld letting him give up cursive writing forever, convincing him he was great at math and inspiring him to develop almost too much self-confidence--which has never worn off. Meeting Mrs. Esfeld again after so many years was a real treat.

Some Jerry Esfeld links:

Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom
Jefferson Elementary School (Great Bend, Kansas)
Jefferson Elementary School (USD #428)
USD #428 Info Page
Communication Arts Standards for the State of Kansas (Draft, Nov. 14-15, 2002)

An ESL MiniConference Online interview
with Jerry Esfeld:

Mrs. Jerry Esfeld, 4th Grade Teacher, Great Bend, Kansas

What is your main teaching activity now? What are your principal projects, and what is on the back burner?

My main activity is now and always will be to continue to enjoy life and have fun in the classroom and wherever my daily activities take me. My principal project is to make learning fun and develop strategies that will meet the needs of each student. I hope to have 100 percent of my students pass all of the science, math and grammar objectives!--set out by USD #428--then celebrate.

How did you start your teaching career? Who influenced your decision? What were some important formative experiences in the early stages of your development?

My mother was a teacher in Ellis County during the "Dirty Thirties." I was the first family member to get to go to college and it was never a question as to what I would do.

When I started teaching, my principal at that time and I had a huge personality conflict. This conflict continued during my entire time of teaching with him as my administrator. I do believe this made me a stronger teacher. Being a finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year, nominated for the Disney Teacher of the Year, being named Outstanding Young Educator and being named Professional Woman of the Year helped me maintain my confidence during those "trying years" with this principal.

I've been blessed to be able to be at Jefferson during my entire teaching career. This does not mean that I haven't dealt with children with special needs. I begin each year by telling the students that we all have handicaps and needs, and asking their help in accepting them and helping us overcome them. I always point out my handicap with spelling!

If you had to give advice to a new teacher, what would it be?

I wish I could talk to every new teacher. I would tell them to start a file with a letter from each student written at the end of the year to the teacher, with a school picture attached, and don't forget to put the date on it. I treasure my file--but I don't have last names on some and no dates on others.

What do you see as the most important issues facing the teaching profession today?

The most important issue facing the teaching profession is public opinion. Robb, with your writing abilities, perhaps you could work on this.

Interviewed by Robb Scott

2002 ESL MiniConference Online