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The Tritonian

Golden Apple Nominee ‘Mrs. VW’ Strives to Make Learning Fun and Engaging


Mrs. Caitlyn VandenWyngaard has been teaching Spanish at NDA for many years, 15 to be exact. This year Mrs. VW has once again been nominated for a Golden Apple Award. But, how did she come to earn this repeated honor? This is her story of achieving teacher success.

When Mrs. VW was a young girl, she decided that she either wanted to become a nurse or a teacher. As she got older, she realized that she did not work well with bodily fluids. That led to her deciding not to go into the medical field.

Her first job as a cook at a supper club sort of prepared her for teaching. Her boss made Mrs.VW a mentor for new colleagues. As their trainer, she would help her understudies by explaining in detail how to prepare certain dishes. If they had a problem, she would patiently explain how to fix it.

Her trainees let her know how appreciative they were of her patience with them, as working in the kitchen is a high-paced job. This gave Mrs. VW a love for teaching and insight to the career she wanted to pursue.

Her biggest role model has been her grandmother Romilda, who showed immense love to everyone she encountered. Romilda grew up on a small farm in the rural town of Charlesburg, WI. She had hopes of attending high school, but was unable to go higher than an eighth-grade graduation.

Because of her grandma’s misfortune, Mrs. VW always wanted to use her life experience to the best of her ability. She has been inspired through the work of her past teachers to make learning fun and engaging. 

“They challenged me to never settle for ‘good enough’ and pushed me to strive for more,” said Mrs. VW.

However, the most challenging part of being a teacher for her is coming up with new and interesting lesson plans. 

There are some activities that I used to do years ago with vocabulary that students used to really enjoy. However, when I try the same activity in class nowadays it tends to be a flop,” said the Spanish teacher.

On the contrary, the best part of teaching is being able to help students who struggle greatly with a concept and then see the moment they understand. 

“Watching it click and having the aha moment is really neat to watch. I would also say the relationships I have built,”said Mrs. VW.

The nominee also mentioned that she greatly enjoys meeting up with these former students again in public and seeing what they are doing with their lives.

Mrs.VW typically teaches Spanish I and II and occasionally a Spanish III class.

Her favorite concept to teach is grammar. “Most students hate grammar, so I like to make it fun and teach them about grammar in the process,” said Mrs. VW.

Mrs. VW knows that not everyone is going to like her teaching method, so she tries to be authentic and understandable when listening to her students’ opinions. She wishes more people knew how much time goes into teaching and making day-to-day lesson plans.

All of this being said, her dedication and diligence has led her to become an Golden Apple Award nominee.

“I am humbled and honored. I am blessed to work with so many incredible teachers that inspire me to continue to push myself to grow and improve my teaching,” said Mrs. VW, when asked what she thought of her nomination.

One word to describe Mrs. VW would be resourceful. She is told by friends that she is very thrifty and has a useful knack for almost everything.

When Mrs.VW is not teaching, she highly enjoys baking for her friends and family. This is something not many students know, but something she is still passionate about.

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