Salem teacher runner-up for teacher of the year

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Salem teacher runner-up for teacher of the year

8:42 a.m. PDT October 30, 2015

When Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor announced the Oregon Teacher of the Year for 2015 on Monday, he didn’t call Maureen Foelkl’s name.

But that didn’t bother Foelkl. She was just honored to be in the running.

“So many great teachers were nominated and I’m just a portion of it,” she said. “I’m in awe of the others.”

Foelkl, 56, teaches third grade and has taught at Chapman Hill Elementary School in Salem since it opened in 1986.

On Tuesday, Foelkl was honored as one of two runners-up to the award. Though she didn’t get teacher of the year, she received a check of $2,000 from Noor at a school assembly.

Foelkl said the hard work of all the teachers was recognized at the assembly, which she really appreciated.

“It was a humbling experience,” she said.

When she read the bio of Heather Anderson, the fourth grade teacher from Juniper Elementary in Bend who won the award, Foelkl said she just kept thinking, “Wow, what an amazing lady.”

Nonetheless, she was still touched to be honored and is excited to put the money to good use.

“What are we going to do with this money?” she asked her class.

Knowing that Foelkl loves all things science, the students started listing off ideas of science-related materials she could buy.

Foelkl said she invests a lot of her personal money into things for her students to have in the classroom, but she added, “The pay off is phenomenal.”

Foelkl came from a family of teachers, but it wasn’t until she was pursuing a degree in business that she realized she might want to do something other than her original plan.

When watching her father grade one night, she saw him finish a stack of papers and breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment.

“He knew he had done something important,” she said. She decided to shadow him in his classroom soon after and immediately felt a connection with the career.

She now lives in Salem with her family. Though she doesn’t have any children of her own, she does count the dozens of students she cares for every day as family.

“It is a privilege to work in the Salem-Keizer School District,” she said. “The faculty, parents and students give their whole hearts and soul to me.”

“I’m very grateful,” she added. “Every day is a gift.”

npate@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate

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