Mary Van Dyke sees herself as a "talent scout" for creative productions. "I aim to teach students to express themselves, value the freedom of individual effort, and take that giant leap along the path to self-awareness. Children usually rise to the level of expectation. Seeing their eagerness to solve a real-life problem, write poetry, teach a senior citizen, research an interest topic, design a web partnership, develop a media presentation, or promote understanding of Islam and the Afghan culture, who am I to stand in their way? Yes, I am fortunate that my students take me on their personal journey of discovery, and all I have to do is steer them along."
Venture Business Association, Grant Advisor, 2005
National Youth Service Day Advisor Award, 2004
Odyssey of the Mind "Outstanding OMER" State Award, 1999
Boyer Foundation Technology Inclusion Grant Advisor, 1999
"If there ever was a Master Teacher, Mary Van Dyke is it! Dramatically dynamic, courageously creative, wonderfully bright, unbelievably energetic, and beautifully sincere, Mary would be a treasure for any school system," says Merle Marsh, Director of Special Projects.
Janie Bennett, Counselor writes, "Mary began taking students to Odyssey of the Mind contests when it was called Olympics of the Mind! On her own time and many times at her own expense, she encouraged and accompanied students on weekends and during summers to regional, state, and world OM competitions. Students from Atchison have won first place in Kansas year after year."
"The thing about Mrs. VanDyke's gifted class," says Lillian Cooper, a student of Mrs. VanDyke's, "is that it is not an easy thing to get through. She is always pushing you to do great things, because she knows what is possible from students. She knows that if a person tries, the list of what they can accomplish is endless. Mrs. VanDyke believes in us all, and I know that is why we have all succeeded."