The APS Employee Spotlight is a monthly feature that highlights teachers, school and central office staff as well as support staff at every level, who contribute so much to make APS successful and enrich the education of our students. This month, we highlight Barrett Elementary School music teacher Amanda Thiel who has been with APS for seven years.
Fun Fact! Amanda led Barrett administrators and teachers in a music dance video for #KWBPride students that was tweeted out by Elton John! Check out the tweet with link to the video!
How did you get interested in working with kids/education, etc.?
As a shy little girl, Amanda discovered choir in elementary school. She sang so quietly that when she auditioned for middle school chorus, she almost was turned away because her teacher could barely hear her. The flame was ignited and she slowly fell deeper in love with the process of making music and performing. By the time she was a senior in high school, she knew that she had to have music in her future. Her high school choir director, Mr. Kelly, gave her the tools and confidence to move forward in that path. She hopes to become as influential in her students’ lives as every single one of her music teachers were for her.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to similar leadership roles?
Amanda’s advice for taking on leadership roles is to take initiative and be an example for others. In most scenarios, if you sit back and wait around, someone else will probably get to it first. She feels that being a great leader requires leading by example in everything you say and do. People are always watching and picking up on interactions. Amanda is thankful for the leaders in her life who have given her the best examples of being a diplomatic leader.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would be your dream job?
If Amanda was not a teacher, her dream job would be to sing for others. Singing was not always something that was easy for her to do in front of other people. This is a quality that allows her to relate to many of her students who feel self conscious about singing for their peers. It has taken her many years to grow comfortable as a performer and she is always working to improve just as she encourages her students to continue to do. For now, you can catch her singing in videos for her students and virtually with her church choir!
What are you reading now/what’s the best book you’ve read over the past year?
Amanda has been reading a lot since we have been stuck at home, The best book she has read this year is called Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. It is a heartwarming tale about three unlikely people who are trying to make the best of the hands they’ve been dealt. Amanda describes this story as full of love, hope, friendship and miracles.
What makes APS special/why is your role/department/class so important for students, the school, APS as a whole?
APS is special for many reasons but Amanda values their emphasis on the importance of the arts in a child’s education. It is evident that the arts have a positive impact on student achievement and they allow students to be creative and show their individuality She feels supported by the fantastic leadership in the Arts department and her amazing administrators at Barrett who lead by example everyday.
Is there anything else that might surprise your colleagues to know about you? Personal interests, achievements, etc?
Amanda loves to read. She is very close to reaching her goal of 100 books read this year. She also loves dogs, cooking, crossfit, playing board games with her husband and being a mom to her sweet little girl, Lily.
What is something outside the classroom that has helped shape or inspire you as a teacher?
Something that Amanda attributes to being a more compassionate and loving teacher is being a mom. She has always cared about her students and their success but after becoming a mom she now sees situations through the lens of a teacher and parent. Amanda wants her students’ parents to know how much she appreciates them and she is dedicated to providing the best experiences for their children.
If you have an APS staff member that you want to see featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.