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East Troy educator is teacher of the year

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Darryl Enriquez
September 10, 2010
— Pop music grabs most kids by the ears, but high school English teacher Claudia Felske uses its lyrics to catch their intellects.

Before they know it, the kids bridge the lyrics of the Rolling Stones to the classic poetry of Blake and Keats.


Felske’s teaching style earned her the Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year award for 2010-11, presented earlier this week by state Superintendent Tony Evers during a ceremony at East Troy High School.


“It was pretty surprising,” Felske said of the award. “It was supposed to be an all-school assembly for first class to start off the school year in a good way. Tony Evers was introduced, and I thought how great it was that he attended our assembly.


“Then I saw my parents and my husband, Mike, and son Eliot were there. I don’t know how they all kept it a secret.”


Eliot is 8.


Felske, from East Troy, has taught in the East Troy School District since 1993.


District Superintendent Chris Hibner called Felske a teacher who continues to learn.


“She is always looking for more ways to reach all of her students,” Hibner said. “A well-deserving person got this award.”


Felske said she loves literature, words, writing and kids.


“I try to create interesting opportunities for my students by bringing artists, actors and writers to my classroom. I use lyrics of popular music and ask students what it means. Many don’t know, and we figure out what it means and turn that into an interest in poetry.”


To get students even more engaged, Felske had them put Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on trial.


She will receive a $3,000 award from U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl through his education foundation. Felske said she is still considering how to use the money.


Felske got an earlier grant of $1,000 from the Kohl Foundation and the school matched the amount. She used the money to buy 12 memory foam chairs for her classroom and a dozen iPods to download educational material on literature and language.


“The award is very humbling because there are many expert teachers in Wisconsin, Felske said. “I’ve accepted this on behalf of all hard working teachers.”



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