Beth Dampf named JC Teacher of the Year
Friday, May 2, 2014
Colleagues and administrators alike found it easy to sing Beth Dampf’s praises Thursday evening at a banquet where she was honored as the Jefferson City Public School’s Teacher of the Year.
Dampf, who serves as the director of vocal music at Jefferson City High School, was selected from a list of more than 150 nominees. The award was presented Thursday night at the district’s annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet.
Five other finalists — Jessica Long and Kim Bowden from Cedar Hill Elementary School, Jana Forck from JCHS, Kate Leary from Lewis and Clark Middle School and Jennifer Turpin from West Elementary School — also were recognized. Both Turpin and Dampf were honored with JCPS Alumni Association’s Excellence in Teaching awards, which come with monetary awards for them personally and their schools.
Each teacher was asked to share their philosophies and experiences; the interviews were videotaped and replayed for the more than 320 people who attended.
A teacher for 28 years, Dampf has been in her current position as the chorale director and music department chair for seven years. Before that she was employed for 21 years as a teacher in California. She’s known for her ability to connect with students, said Superintendent Brian Mitchell.
She said her father gave her the best piece of advice when he told her: “It’s not what you know. It’s what you notice.”
Good teaching is not about being able to “spout off” a gusher of details and figures, she believes.
“Because at the end of the day, the kids don’t care about that. They want to know what you notice about them,” she said.
A letter, written by a former student about Dampf’s teaching abilities, resonated with the selection committee, Mitchell said. Although the young woman had a tumultuous upbringing, she was talented, bright and excelled in the limelight.
She wrote to Dampf: “These four years were probably the hardest years in my young life. You witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly … you built my confidence, forced me to try harder, checked me when I was being dumb and loved me like a family member.”
Dampf was overtaken by emotion as she accepted the award, particularly when she noticed her extended family in the crowd. She thanked her colleagues and her family.
“I feel very blessed,” she said. “I’ll start crying, because that’s the way I roll.”
“Beth Dampf is the type of teacher every parent hopes their child will have. She loves what she does, she cares about students, she knows her subject manner and she sets high expectations for the kids,” Superintendent Brian Mitchell said.
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