2014 Recipient: Tina Ahlgren
"Every day she makes me want more education. She is the reason I want to learn," wrote a student who joined six others who nominated Tina Ahlgren as their life-changing teacher. Described as someone who uses engaging techniques, Ahlgren's approach is also effective and measurable. Student scores in Ahlgren's Algebra 1 classes helped Shortridge raise its grade from F to B.
"Whether she is dressing up with goggles and ski poles to explain a slope or going to the store to buy a new shirt for a student, she is always thinking of her kids," wrote a colleague.
Two students told poignant stories of how Ahlgren went above and beyond to change their lives. A young woman relayed that she had to stop going to school in her sophomore year when she had her baby.
As her Algebra teacher, Ahlgren had worked with her after school to break down the class work "until I got it." After the baby was born, Ahlgren visited the new mother and child in the hospital, became a godmother, and has since helped her student get back in school. Today, she is approaching graduation while working full time.
A young man recalled times when he "came to school and acted a fool...but Ms. Ahlgren never gave up on me." Ahlgren gave him lunch money and paid his cell phone bill when he could not, and even helped him make up weeks of missing assignments when he was in juvenile detention.
Later, when her student got accepted to college, Ms. Ahlgren drove him to Vincennes University, joined him in meetings with administrators, and paid his room and board down payment. Without Alhgren's support, "I would never have graduated from high school," wrote the student.