Andy Meyer grew up with three brothers in the Kalamazoo area, the son of a small business owner and a nurse. His love for sports started early. Meyer started playing hockey when he was five and by the time he entered high school, he ran track, cross country, wrestled, and played golf.
After graduating in a class of 82 students from Schoolcraft High School, Meyer attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College for a year and then enrolled at Eastern Michigan University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. While a student, he worked at the University of Michigan Health System’s Childcare Center and then student taught at Allen Elementary in Pam Dabbs’ kindergarten classroom. After student teaching, Meyer was a long-term substitute at Allen for a kindergarten classroom and then a first grade classroom. In 2005, he was hired at Abbot Elementary. While at Abbot he has taught kindergarten, first and second grade. In 2010, he completed his master’s degree through Marygrove College.
Meyer lives in Chelsea with his partner, Dawn Snow, their dog, Lola and cat, Roo. He still enjoys playing hockey, running and playing golf. He also enjoys traveling up north to his family cabin, and hanging out with friends and family. A very creative guy who says he has a huge passion for “nerding out,” Meyer’s current projects include roasting coffee beans, screen printing, wood working, leather making, fixing up mopeds, and building a house.
Profile and photos by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about teaching? About learning? The most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing. When that stops, it’s time to move on.
Never stop learning! I am always looking for ways to improve within the profession, and also in my personal life. I never turn down an opportunity to learn a new skill or craft. I’m just wired that way. I want to know how, so I start working my way through the process. I make lots of mistakes and I have had many failures along the way, but mistakes are sometimes the most important part of my learning process. I’m not afraid of making mistakes and I make sure my students understand that. I want them to take chances and learn from their mistakes.
What inspired you to become a teacher? I had a lot of memorable teachers growing up. They always seemed to enjoy what they were doing.
What was your plan B? Teaching. Plan A was to become a professional hockey player. The Red Wings never called. I have a lot of other hobbies, but doing those things professionally or as a career could potentially take the “hobby” out of those activities. Teaching has allowed me to share my passion for learning with my students. I love the challenge that each school year brings.
Describe an average workday. From the moment the students walk through the door until the moment that the last student leaves, it’s non-stop. The workday for teaching is not just Monday to Friday 8 to 4. I am constantly thinking about ways to improve upon what’s happening in my classroom.
Which apps and websites would you recommend to other teachers? Kahoot, Quizizz, Plickers, Seesaw, Bloomz, Newsela, Reflector, Epic, Raz-kids, IXL, Prodigy Math, Front Row Ed.
What is unique about teaching first grade? Their innocence, their developing sense of humor, and their desire to do good.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching? The end of the school year—but not for the reason most people would think. (Summer break). It’s all about looking back at what was accomplished through the school year. It’s much more than a math or reading score. When you look back through pictures and student portfolios, you get a real sense of accomplishment. You see the bigger picture of how they have grown as an individual in that classroom/school community. That is the stuff that really matters to me when I look back. Those are the stories I share when I talk to friends and family.
What do you most remember about being in first grade? How old and strict my teacher was. I don’t think she enjoyed the job. I don’t want the kids to see the stressful side of the job. I have fun every day.
What was always written on your report card in grade school? I’m not sure. I was a pretty shy kid.
What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher? That it is not a 9-5 job. It’s not a 10-month job with summers off. The planning and learning is constantly happening. Reflecting on past years and thinking about ways to enhance student engagement and learning is a 24/7 thing.
If you could change one thing about public education, what would it be? Stop following a corporate model where everything comes down to dollars. Teachers need support and they need to be trusted professionally. Every day we work with 20-30 kids—sometimes more— who all have unique individual needs. We can’t sell them on a math or science lesson when we have students that come to school hungry, without sleep, or a bed to sleep on. Social/emotional/behavioral growth needs to be fostered in order for learning to make sense and be a priority for some students. This is the stuff that doesn’t get measured or scored. I had it good. I came from a loving family and my needs were always met. It isn’t that way for every child, and our current model just doesn’t account for such things.
What would you tell a college student considering becoming a teacher? Teaching has ups and downs, just like any job. Take advantage of your breaks to learn and better yourself. Use that time to mentally reset and refresh. Learn about your students every year and tailor your teaching to their interests and needs.