Teaching wasn’t always the career path for Teresa Swiger, but it is where she plans to stay.

“It’s my second profession,” she said. “I was a dental assistant for most of the years my children were growing up.”

Swiger has now been teaching for 12 years, the past two in second grade at Monarch Elementary School. She has been married for 34 years, has six children and 10 grandchildren.

“Children have always been a big part of our lives,” she said.

It was her own children who drew her into education, first as an active parent volunteer and then as a substitute teacher.

“As I started subbing, I loved it,” she said. “I was back in college after 40. I was in college at the same time as two of my children. It’s less money than the dental field, but it’s much more rewarding.”

Swiger’s vast experience with children pays off in the classroom.

“Each one is so different,” she said. “Each one has so many different circumstances at home and so many different challenges. When my children finally were all in school, this was what I decided I wanted to do. As long as I can, I want to stay in the classroom.”

In addition to learning the ins and outs of teaching, Swiger had to learn the technology that is so prevalent in today’s learning environment.

“Now, I can’t imagine teaching without technology,” she said. “Having a support staff and a group of people around you who have the same passion and who help you and challenge you to be better – I just love Monarch.”

Swiger said first grade is a magical age.

“They can tie their shoes and blow their nose,” she said. “They want to learn so much. They go above and beyond. They are complete sponges. They love school. They love their teachers. You give them a little bit and they just go and go and go.”

Nomination excerpt

“I have a very smart, but challenging son. Since he had behavior problems, he started to not enjoy school. Well, this year has been completely different. My son cannot talk enough about how he loves second grade and his teacher. We recently had a student/parent/teacher conference. I was so impressed with the rapport my son had with Mrs. Swiger. They just get each other.”

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