WARSAW — Teaching becomes gratifying when a student has one of those “aha” moments and the light bulb turns on because they get it, as described by Angela Luecke, math instructional coach for elementary schools in Warsaw Community Schools. Teaching math is at the top of the favorite list for Luecke and this is but one reason why.
A native of Warsaw who grew up in the city and graduated from Warsaw Community High School in 2001, Luecke later earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Ball State University in 2006, graduating cum laude.
She developed a passion for teaching at an early age, recalling being particularly inspired by her fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary, Rachel Grose, who is still teaching. “She’s my reason for teaching,” Luecke fondly noted.
A door opened for teaching at, of all places, in Florida while on a spring break trip during her senior year at Ball State. She had a cousin living in Florida who introduced her to the principal at Trafalgar Elementary School in Cape Coral.
The school had an opening, which Luecke took advantage of, and she began teaching there beginning with the 2006-07 school year. “That (2006) was an eventful year in my life,” she noted, as it included graduating from college, being married in May to Blake Luecke and accepting a teaching position.
Angela taught at Trafalgar for three school years and then she and Blake, after starting a family, decided to move back to Warsaw. She then took a job teaching sixth grade at Eisenhower Elementary in Warsaw and was there for one year before redistricting took place. She moved to Jefferson Elementary in Warsaw and taught fifth and sixth grade through the 2016-17 school year.
Warsaw Community Schools received a science, technology, engineering and math grant, more commonly known as STEM, from Ball State. “That really opened my eyes to how I taught math,” she noted. A position as an instructional math coach opened and she decided to try it for a year, though admitting she has missed classroom teaching.
As an instructional coach, she visits elementary classrooms and works with teachers on best teaching practices. “We have focused on the new teachers in the district this year,” she said, on how to get and keep kids engaged in math. This also involves modeling and teaching lessons, as well as talking with teachers.
Warsaw Community Schools has eight elementary schools, including Claypool and Leesburg outside of the city, and Luecke goes where she is needed. “There are fifteen new elementary teachers this year,” she said.
Teaching math has changed drastically in recent years, she noted. “There is a lot of brain development research,” she said, and teaching is now more of an inquiry approach allowing students to explore first and is more hands-on learning.
“It is real world applications and students apply to real world situations,” she noted, with problem solving involved. For example, students now must explain why five times four equals 20 instead of just writing the answer.
Teaching math is a clearly a strong passion of hers. “There are so many ways to teach it, and you can make it very hands-on,” she commented. She enjoys having discussions and getting kids to talk about math.
This summer, through an Indiana Department of Education program, she is one of three teachers who will go to China for two weeks to model how STEM classes are taught as Chinese teachers watch.
Hobbies include reading, traveling and trying new restaurants. Angela and Blake (an area supervisor for Pizza King) have two children: Jocelyn, 9, and Adalyn, 7. The family attends Warsaw Community Church.