Monticello’s third-grade teachers have a passion for learning

Monticello’s third-grade teachers are, from left, Tricia Lambert, Cindy Savage, and Amanda Stoll. Last week the third graders dressed up as they learned about life on the prairie. (Photo by Kim Brooks)

Bentley Martin, third grade, works on his bar of soap carving project. The third graders read the “Little House on the Prairie” books. In one of the books, Pa whittles a Christmas present for Ma out of a block of wood. (Photo submitted)

Third-grade students in Mrs. Savage’s classroom show off their best prairie attire as they learned about the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Photo submitted)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     Every year the Monticello third grade classes dress the part as they learn about life on the prairie. Teachers Cindy Savage, Tricia Lambert, and Amanda Stoll also took part.

     Last week, the third graders learned about the life and times of famed author Laura Ingalls Wilder. They played games, made crafts and ate homemade bread as part of the lessons.

Cindy Savage

     “I always wanted to be a teacher.”

     Savage has been with the MCSD for 20 years, teaching third grade the entire time she’s been employed here.

     “Teaching third grade keeps me plenty busy!” she said.

     Savage said her own first-grade teacher, Mrs. Colette McDermott, was an inspiration. “She was always patient and encouraging. I wanted to be like her.”

     Savage attended the University of Iowa and earned a BA in elementary education. She has a minor in early childhood education. She also received her master’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa in literacy.

     Before making the Monticello school district her home, Savage spent time as a substitute teacher at several other school districts.

     “The community of Monticello and the school district have really come together to support the best needs of the students throughout the years I’ve been here,” praised Savage. “I am proud to be a part of such a forward-thinking community.”

     She said being around her students is certainly the highlight of her job as a teacher.

     “I love the kids,” she said, simple as that. “That’s why I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.”

     Offering more, Savage said seeing her students learn and solve problems adds to the benefits of her job. “Third graders love coming to school and are excited about learning.

     “It’s always a great feeling being with them. They make you smile, laugh, and many time I learn from them.”

     With so much on teachers’ plates these days outside of just teaching, Savage said those frustrating mandates don’t mean anything when her students remind her why she became a teacher in the first place. “For them and their success,” she said.

     In her 20 years with the district, Savage and she’s also met and worked with so many great colleagues as well “who have been great mentors and learning partners.”

     When she’s not teaching, Savage enjoys being outdoors with her three dogs: Marley, Max and Drake.

     “We live in the country and it’s beautiful there,” she shared.

     She also spends time with family and friends laughing and reading.

Tricia Lambert

     “People work together in this community to do what is best for our children.”

     Lambert said that is one reason she enjoys working for the MCSD. “I also enjoy our staff, our students, our families, and out community.”

     Lambert has been with the district for 17 years.

     Outside of being a third-grade teacher, she’s also held several other professional roles: technology facilitator for Carpenter School, Building Level Team committee, first-grade teacher, and middle school track coach.

     The third grade teachers are responsible for all subjects, and Lambert tackles math, reading, science, social studies, and writing.

     “My job is to make sure they (the students) are proficient in those areas, and along the way teach them how to be the best person they can be.”

     Lambert said she’s always been interested in becoming a teacher, for as long as she could remember.

     “I’ve been involved in organizations or activities where I have helped, taught, coached, and volunteered with children in our community,” she said.

     Of working for the Monticello district, she said everyone works well together “to ensure we are doing our best for all students.

     “We are great problem solvers, listeners, encouragers, inspirers, counselors, etc. We ALL care about each other and the students,” added Lambert. She said the teachers and district staff don’t really give each other enough credit for the great things going on throughout the district.

     Before coming to Monticello, Lambert taught for four years at the College Community School District in Cedar Rapids.

     She has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with endorsements in English/language arts and reading from Mount Mercy College.

     As for what she enjoys doing in her spare time, she shared her favorite quote: “Together is the best place to be.”

     Lambert said being with her family is her favorite hobby, whether it’s at sporting events, watching a movie, or helping together at their church.

Amanda Stoll

     Stoll has been with the MCSD for nine years. While her current job entails teaching third grade, she’s also taught seventh and eighth grade special education from 2009-15.

     Aside from teaching the core subjects, she said she feels her job also includes more than just that.

     “I also feel my job is to make the time my students are with me the best part of their day,” she added.

     Stoll said while attending the University of Iowa she was sitting in a business class and thought to herself, “This is not for me. I knew I had to make a change.”

     So, after three years she switched majors and colleges. Stoll earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education K-6 with endorsements in special education and K-8 reading from Mount Mercy College. She has a master’s degree in teaching from Saint Mary’s College (online).

     “Kids have always been a part of my life,” said Stoll. “As the oldest of three.”

     She also attributes her love of kids to her mom, Kim Smith, who ran a daycare business for close to 30 years.

     “She has been a huge inspiration to me as a teacher,” praised Stoll. “She has always been to loving and patient with her daycare children, and is always looking for ways to improve her daycare business.”

     Her mother-in-law, Evelyn Stoll, is another inspiration in her profession. While in high school and college, Stoll visited and volunteered in Evelyn’s second grade class.

     “I always enjoyed listening to her school stories, reading to her students, and helping her set up her classroom each fall,” she said.

     Stoll has only taught in Monticello and said she likes the close-knit relationships she’s been able to form with her fellow teachers, something she said isn’t always possible at larger school districts. She said there are so many advantages to teaching in a smaller district.

     “I love the idea that you can easily keep in touch with your previous students as they progress through the grades,” she said. “It’s nice to see what they achieve as they grow.”

     With her own students, she said she loves helping them “learn and grow and leaching them perseverance.

     “The best is when they can achieve what they are capable of,” she added.

     Stoll lives in Cascade with her husband Doug and 5-year-old twins Benny and Ellorie.

     “They are in preK at Cascade Elementary and absolutely love school!” said Stoll of her own children. “What more could a teacher/mom ask for?”

     The Stolls spend time together outdoors, with their dog Ruby, going to concerts, being with family and friends, and game night.


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