Ocean City Teacher Finalist for National Teacher of the Year

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Amy Andersen has been teaching American Sign Language (ASL) to students at Ocean City High School since 2004.

“Miss Andersen kind of fosters a very loving community in her classroom and it really gets students engaged with the language and everything,” said Michael Beebe, one of Miss Andersen’s former ASL students.

“Her passion comes out when she’s teaching and how passionate she is about it. The students feed off of that,” said Valeria Galderisi, a former ASL student of Miss Andersen.

“She is so motivational and she is so accepting of everyone and as soon as you walk into that classroom it’s a classroom of love,” said Elizabeth Buch, one of Miss Andersen’s current ASL students.

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She spearheaded the program that has since grown.

“Teaching is what defines me," said Andersen. "I always tell my students, if I won the lottery tomorrow you’d see me tomorrow morning. Because this is what gives me joy.”

“Amy also brings in the connection between the hearing impaired with the hearing community and makes us all one," said Dr. Kathleen Taylor, Ed.D., superintendent for Ocean City School District. "That is such a unique talent and skill and passion that she has.”

Her efforts landed her Teacher of the Year title for the district, then the county, and then Teacher of the Year for the Garden State.

“She’s not just teaching a subject but teaching about an entire culture and through that both her students and the entire community are learning how to understand, value, and empower those who are different from them. I think we from New Jersey can send a message of how that’s done and how important it is,” said Kristen Brown, chief talent officer for the New Jersey Department of Education.

That message will now be taken to a national level as the Cape May County teacher was just announced as one of the four finalists in the running for teacher of the year for the entire country.

“I think every step I have to pinch myself to believe it,” said Andersen.

“I know that she’ll represent not only Ocean City, but the region and New Jersey, so well across the nation because she enables students to find their voice, find their passion, and find the path that makes a difference,” said Taylor.

Andersen is currently on a six-month sabbatical helping the Department of Education work towards setting up ASL programs in other districts across the state.

“And if Amy wins this national level award then I know it will spread even more, the acquisition of the language. More and more people will want to learn how to sign,” signed Khanh Lao, president for the New Jersey Association of the Deaf.

But next month she’ll go down to Washington D.C. to represent New Jersey as she interviews for the title of the 2018 National Teacher of the Year.

Read: Cape May Snow Sculptor Featured on Travel Channel

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