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Kansas Master Teacher Sara Hoffman

Sara Hoffman

Sara Hoffman

Sara Hoffman

Second Grade Teacher
Canyon Creek Elementary School
USD 233

“Good teachers know how to bring out the best in students.” (Charles Kuralt)

Second grade teacher Sara Hoffman lives by the above quote through building relationships, promoting collaboration and providing authentic learning opportunities to her students.

“This can be achieved in a classroom environment that promotes belonging and provides opportunities to learn from others,” Hoffman wrote.

Hoffman achieves this goal through Project Based Learning — a method that directs students through projects that are authentic and connects them with their community.

“This past year, second graders had to understand how the past impacts their life today,” she wrote. “Students learned about famous people, events and daily life in the past. Then we partnered with an assisted living community to come meet our students.”

Hoffman said this project brought context to the past and students continued talking and making connections to their present with the many stories they heard from residents in the assisted living community. Students need to learn by shared experiences and conversations, she said.

“During our projects we work in teams, consult with community experts and gather feedback from peers,” she wrote. “In math groups, we use Math Chats to solve logic-based problems. Students discuss various paths to the same solution, so they expand their understanding and grow as learners.”

Throughout the year, Hoffman provides opportunities to reinforce the students’ sense of belonging, which is crucial to maintaining a positive learning environment, she said.

“I will provide team building games, such as STEM challenges, cooperative learning discussions or just a fun game of Olympic style Rock, Paper, Scissors to reinforce that belonging,” she wrote. “I have witnessed students work to their potential because I provided the time for them to connect with myself and their peers.”

Every successful teacher will say there are students that can be hard-to-reach, Hoffman said. This could range from being academically behind or their behavior interfering with learning. But Hoffman said her greatest challenge is engaging her students in a classroom full of 7 and 8 year olds.

“It takes a lot to keep them engaged,” she wrote. “Outside of school they are playing video games, running around the neighborhood with friends or being shuttled to multiple different activities.”

Hoffman meets this challenge through Project-Based Learning and authentic learning opportunities, while planning for the needs of every student’s unique needs.

“Walk into my classroom any day and ask my students what my favorite word is, and they will say ‘flexible,’” she wrote. “At this point in my career, being flexible to meet the needs of my students is my greatest asset.”

Hoffman earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Central Missouri in 2009 and a master’s degree in education from Baker University in 2021.

Christy James, Canyon Creek principal, attested to Hoffman’s teaching skills. James said it is a blessing for students at Canyon Creek Elementary School to be enriched by Hoffman.

“In today’s educational arena, the calling of an elementary educator is to enrich students through rigorous, authentic experiences related to ‘real world’ practical application,” James wrote. “Mrs. Hoffman succeeds through a well-paced, charismatic instructional design laced with tangible learning objectives, performance assessments and fun.”