2019 Lincoln College Preparatory Academy Teacher of the Year

Deborah Etterling


Deborah Etterling
Lincoln College Preparatory Academy
10th Grade American History

How are you working to increase equity in education and opportunity for students in your school?
We just had the fifth-annual Black History Program at Lincoln Prep on March 1. My students come from diverse backgrounds, but all participate in this program in some way. Each class has to perform a five-minute skit. Over the years, I have tweaked the assignment to make it as authentic, meaningful, and relevant as possible. The purpose has always been to celebrate and tell the story of African American history in a respectful, authentic way. The students go through a process where they take on different roles such as researcher, actor, stagehand, etc.

The students have to complete a reflection about their role in the project. Numerous students comment on learning, enjoying, and bonding with their classmates. They see a different side of each other and it interesting to see that “ALL” students want to make it meaningful. Students look forward to doing it each year and start talking about it in the first week of school. The impact is immeasurable

What message about public education do you want to share?
I read about education all the time. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t read an article about education. There are so many major public education issues, but if you are talking about the one that I lead from the classroom, it is the issue of accountability in education. It seems to me as though the buck gets passed around a lot and decisions are made by people who know nothing to very little about education. In my classroom students are held accountable and I have them hold me accountable for everything from behavior to assignments to respect and politeness. Excuses are not acceptable and that means from me either. They call me out and I hold them to a high standard of learning and behavior. I apologize when I mess up and I am genuine. I develop relationships with my students and they know we are all accountable for ourselves.