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UW’s Spiker Receives Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award

April 30, 2018
head portrait of a woman
Amy Spiker

Amy Spiker, the associate head of the University of Wyoming Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, meets the needs and interests of her students while always striving to improve her practice.

“Her positivity, passion, thoughtfulness and support really transformed our class into a community, and I am so extremely grateful for her and how she was able to do this,” says Ty Crumm, a former student.

Spiker, a senior lecturer in the School of Teacher Education, is among three recipients of the John. P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award, established in 1977 by businessman John P. “Jack” Ellbogen to “foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW.” Other Ellbogen winners are Ryan Kobbe, Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering associate lecturer; and Eric Teman, School of Counseling, Leadership, Advocacy and Design assistant professor. 

“I was the department head of Elementary and Early Childhood Education when Dr. Spiker was hired in 2007 and have since had multiple opportunities to review her teaching in various capacities,” says Alan Buss, School of Teacher Education associate professor. “Her teaching has been consistently remarkable, from her first semester to the present.”

In 2012, Spiker received the College of Education Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching and was nominated by her students as a Mortar Board “Top Prof,” according to Buss.

“She is tireless in her efforts to prepare meaningful instruction; provide supportive, yet demanding feedback for growth; and respond to students’ needs,” Buss adds. “Best of all, she reflects on her teaching with humility and a sincere desire to never be satisfied with the status quo. She pushes herself and invites her students to achieve excellence.”

By keeping information fresh, Spiker engages with her students on a more intuitive level.

“Dr. Spiker is a teacher who works diligently to bridge her research with her teaching. Amy works hard to connect to her learners using creative ways so the students can build their own knowledge,” says Kate Muir Welsh, School of Teacher Education associate professor. “She creates her class new every year. She finds new texts, designs new lessons and creates new learning experiences.”

Going above and beyond for her students is her priority to make sure they are learning at every opportunity.

“Dr. Spiker knew my strengths and weaknesses in literacy and authentically put the effort in to help me progress toward success,” says Emily Lewis, a former student. “She purchased a book at a literacy conference that she felt would help me in some of the literacy struggles that I shared with her in my assignments and discussions. It was such an honor to have a professor do such a kind act for me.”

By asking her students what their expectations are of her as a teacher, Spiker uses this feedback to better herself.

“She placed the sticky note of expectations above her computer in her office to remind herself daily of what we were asking of her as a teacher,” says Kayla Whiting, a former student. “She reminded herself daily of what we were asking, and met and even exceeded our expectations. She took what we had to say very seriously.”

Spiker received her B.A. in elementary education with a reading endorsement; her M.A. in teaching and learning with a literacy emphasis; and her Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction, all from UW. 

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