When it comes to history, Tracy Sodergren doesn't keep her lessons in the past. "I love showing people how history is about real people who made real decisions and the consequences of those decisions."
Some of those consequences, we live with today. Sodergren searches out those current events links to explain why governments, social structures and economies operate the way they do. "And you'd be amazed once you start talking, they're like oh, that's why we don't get to go out to eat all the time," says Sodergren.
Students feel like they're learning advanced concepts because of the way Sodergren teaches. 7th Grader Annamarie Novelli says "if you have a question she's there to explain it more and go in depth about it." 7th Grader Ashton Thomas says "she's always fair to the students and she's always helping us do our work. She'll give out study guides that we do when we go home and study them the day before a test."
While not part of the curriculum, Sodergren sprinkles in lessons on life skills. She says once students learn to accept others for who they are, they'll realize people are often doing the best they can. "And you think oh they did really well, oh they didn't make a good decision there, but you hope in the end they turn out ok and if you had something to do with that, that's wonderful," says Sodergren.
Sodergren's Golden Apple nomination came from a former student who credits this teacher with turning her life around. "Sometimes you just have to pull that stuff out of kids and help them from going the wrong direction if you can."
Sodergren says she's seen many intelligent students with poor grades who just need someone to believe in them.