Harrison High's Beck announced as a Top 10 teacher in Indiana

Noe Padilla
Lafayette Journal & Courier
Amanda Beck, 2022 TSC Secondary Teacher of the Year, teaching her German class at William Henry Harrison High School.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Earlier this year, when Amanda Beck found out that she had been chosen as one of Tippecanoe School Corporation’s teachers of the year, she was unprepared for the excitement that both the community and the media would send her way.

When all was said and done, she figured that would be the highlight of her year and continued teaching German at Harrison High School as if it were another day of the year.

Fast forward to Sept. 2, when the Indiana Department of Education announced that Beck was one of the top 10 finalists for the 2023 Indiana Teacher of the Year, and the concern of the paparazzi re-emerged.

Luckily though, this time the state gave Beck a few days to prepare for the community’s excitement.

“I was glad that this time, there was a little bit of a warning and that this was going to happen because last time it was just straight up like, 'Hey, by the way, you’ve been selected!' And then it was like an onslaught from everybody. But this time I had a couple of days to kind of take it in and wait to see what happens,” said Beck.

“When I found out, I was pretty darn surprised. I was not expecting to be chosen. I mean, it was nice to get recognized at the building level, but I wasn’t expecting anything past that.

“It's always exciting when you work hard and somebody else sees that, too, but by no means was I like, ‘Yes, I’m going to be the teacher of the year.' It was kind of one of those things that was kind of fun and cool to be chosen, and I left it at that.”

Involved in school's language program

For the past 14 years, Beck has dedicated her time not only to teaching German at Harrison High School, but she's also been greatly involved with the World Language Program.

For several years, Beck has helped run a foreign exchange program for her students to have the opportunity to study in Germany over the summer, giving her students the opportunity to live like a German teen and obtain a new perspective of the world. Beck plans on hosting another trip this summer.

“We’re there for two and a half weeks. We spend about four days traveling as our school group, but then they’re with host families the rest of the time for roughly the two weeks. And I tell them, 'Listen, be open to absorbing the language and that it's OK not knowing all the words. But at least try to speak with them.' And I think the kids that apply themselves and grow so much,” she said.

“I feel like with this trip, there’s so much room for growth both linguistically and personally. It gives these kids that little taste of freedom and that ability to get out there and see and try new things.”

Why Beck became a teacher

When it comes to what life event inspired Beck to teach German, her story is similar to the opportunity she tries to give to her students.

“For me, what really solidified the fact that I wanted to teach, and that I wanted to teach German in particular, is that I went on a trip just before my junior year of high school. And I went over there and was, like, ‘I have to come back here. I have to come back here, and I have to do something in my life that’s going to cause me to come back here and to use the language and interact with the culture and be around the people,' because I just fell in love with Germany.”

After that trip, she knew she wanted to teach German. When she enrolled in college, she knew she wanted to as a German language educator and then become a German language educator right out of college.

Beyond sharing her love for Germany with her students, she’s also been the senior class sponsor, the department chair for the World Language Program, was the president of the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association, and once planned the IFLTA’s state conference, to name a few of her other accomplishments.   

Being chosen as one of Indiana’s top teachers of the year was an amazing feeling, said Beck, but the one thing she wasn’t expecting was how nerve-wracking the whole process would be.

“Up until now, it’s all been based on my portfolio and my writing and being able to detail things I’ve been involved with over the years. But this last 10, it’s an in-person interview and it’s a panel of people and I tell myself, ‘OK, I stand in front of a room full of 30 kids every day, seven hours a day, this should be no problem. But it’s so unnerving to be in front of a group of peers and other people in the field that I really respect.”

Beck said she was happy to be chosen for this prestigious achievement, but she’ll be happier when things can go back to normal.

“It’s been an honor to be chosen, but I think I’m ready to be finished with all of this excitement and go back to teaching like it’s any other day.”