Teachers of Excellence
Fridley Public Schools is proud to announce the 2019-2020 Teachers of Excellence. Five teachers, who represent each of the district's schools (including an Area Learning Center/Fridley Preschool group), were recognized at the annual staff Opening Workshop held Monday, August 31, 2020. Each of the teachers selected are representative of all excellent teachers who work hard every day to deliver high quality education to all students enrolled at Fridley Public Schools.
- Sarah Armstrong - Hayes Elementary School
- Ashton Brask - Fridley Preschool
- Brittany Breitbach - Stevenson Elementary School
- Alisa Lowry - Fridley High School
- Drew Reiter - Fridley Middle School
Congratulations to Sarah Armstrong, the 2019-2020 Hayes Elementary School Teacher of Excellence! A 2nd grade teacher at the school, Armstrong is lauded for her intellect, willingness to go above and beyond in leadership within the school, and how she stepped up to become a teacher leader during the pandemic.
Hayes principal Gaeli Iverson recalls Armstrong’s hard work in strategizing and helping implement distance learning during the 2020 spring pandemic school closures.
“And after finding out that we were going to have to quickly shift into distance learning, I called Sarah explaining the sudden change we were facing and how we needed to continue to best support our scholars,” said Iverson. “And Sarah responded with ideas and plans. We were going to pull together a group that weekend and start digging into how we were going to get this done.”
At Armstrong’s invitation, Iverson and a team from Hayes met Armstrong in her home on a Sunday to begin the work of shifting instructional and support delivery models from in school to distance learning.
“We were able to work together throughout the day, to really have a concrete set of plans for our teachers, that we would kick off the following week,” said Iverson. Iverson strongly believes that without Armstrong’s leadership in that work, it would have been difficult to organize as quickly and be able to present and communicate concrete plans to teachers the following week on how the school and staff were going to best serve its students.
During the pandemic and distance learning, Armstrong spent many hours supporting Hayes teachers by leading the way in good teaching practices online, serving our teachers from a professional development standpoint, and helping individuals troubleshoot solutions to family concerns that may have come up.
As the school continues to learn and grow in what distance learning and hybrid learning looks, we are appreciative of Armstrong’s service. Her dedication in helping students and staff to become 21st century leaders will help ensure a successful school year.
“I am confident that, with her on my team, we have the ability to teach our students and serve our families well, whether they are in-person, or online,” said Iverson, adding that she is very grateful to Armstrong for all that she does for students and staff at Hayes. “Thank you Sarah,” said Iverson. “ I just want you to know that I really, really appreciate all that you have done and will continue to do for us.”
Congratulations to Ashton Brask, the 2019-20 Fridley Preschool/ALC Teacher of Excellence! Brask is a teacher in the Fridley 4-year Preschool program, where she provides the district’s youngest learners and their families an excellent start to their educational journey.
“I have witnessed her growth over the last few years, and I can tell you, she is already a master preschool teacher,” said Dr. Jason Bodey, principal of alternative services. “She is always innovating and finding new resources to better our students’ experience, not only for her classroom, but for our whole school,” said Bodey.
Brask stepped up to help staff learn new tools during distance learning, and goes above and beyond expectations supporting staff members, and her students. She has excellent student interaction, keeps a positive attitude, and always seeks to inspire. She does all these things with a smile, great care, and compassion for all.
“I’ve personally watched her skillfully work with so many of our young scholars, and through her preschool magic, she has helped so many students be fully prepared for kindergarten,” said Bodey adding that Brask’s contributions to our team and our school district are immeasurable.
“I’m honored to work alongside Ashton each day and appreciate all she does for our students, families, and community,” Bodey said.
Congratulations to Brittany Breitbach, the 2019-2020 Stevenson Elementary School Teacher of Excellence!
“We’ve known for quite some time that Ms. Breitbach is an outstanding educator with a high level of creativity, innovation, commitment to students’ success, and someone who delivers incredible instruction,” said Stevenson principal Veronica Mathison.
A 4th grade teacher, Breitbach works exceptionally hard to build relationships with students, staff, and families. A colleague of Breitbach shared that no matter how she is feeling, she is always smiling and warmly greeting her students each morning. She has a great balance of having fun with students and they also work hard for her as she has high expectations for them. She sets a strong example every day and inspires others to work harder and do better.
Her colleagues describe her as a constant source of support. She has always been there to lend an ear, brainstorm on ways to support students, or to walk through teaching techniques. The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic helped bring out Breitbach’s strengths, leadership, and ability to inspire. A tech wiz, when Breitbach found out the school was implementing distance learning, she problem-solved and led the way!
Mathison said that because of Breitbach’s leadership, Stevenson is in a far better place than it would’ve been otherwise. “She is beyond worthy of this recognition - not only for her work during distance learning, but also for her incredible work during all of her years at Stevenson,” said Mathison.
Congratulations to Alisa Lowry, the 2019-2020 Fridley High School Teacher of Excellence! Committed to excellence in her classroom, Lowry is a physical education teacher and is a passionate leader in the school and professional community.
Lowry demonstrates a deep commitment to her students, engages with students in activities outside the classroom, and is a talented, reflective colleague and friend to staff members throughout the building.
Lowry has led her department for a number of years, as a leader on the IBBLT team. She willingly accepts multiple new preps in a year to help out her team, and is a one-person Prom Committee, working with students to create a fun, memorable event. Her colleagues appreciate how she has made their department relevant to the students and school. She has accomplished this through the hands-on opportunities and practical experiences she provided to her classes and the guest speakers she's brought in. Additionally, Lowry is known to lead moral boosters, like fantasy football, social functions, and March Madness.
Lowry is a great source of support for her colleagues, and most recently helped the rest of the high school team immensely this past spring with distance learning. “One of her department colleagues stated that Alisa ‘was always helping us, helped create all of our Google classrooms, answered our questions and was the voice of the department, in addition to her classes,’” said FHS principal Patty Hand. Lowry also moved her classroom to multiple locations in the school in order for her department to stay in their rooms.
Lowry works hard to engage students in their learning, pushing students to do their best and holding them accountable. One of her colleagues noted that Lowry built good relationships, and this year connected with all her students in grades 9-12 in a positive way. She wants to encourage her students to be successful and takes her work very seriously. She always plans meaningful and relevant lessons and is constantly researching new, fun ways to get her students engaged.
“I have always appreciated Alisa’s perspective,” said Hand. “Her honesty comes from a place of sincerity and deep care for her students. I appreciate this individual more than she will ever know and am honored to work with her.”
Congratulations to Drew Reiter, the 2019-2020 Fridley Middle School Teacher of Excellence! A math teacher at FMS, Reiter demonstrates all of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner Profile characteristics.
One of Reiter’s greatest strengths is developing relationships with students and families. Reiter gets to know students and their families on a deep level. He advocates for students, and in turn, students seek him out on a regular basis. Reiter constantly works to meet the unique needs of students and gets to know each of their individual stories. He is visible around the district and even supports students by attending their events outside the school day.
Reiter has been a teacher at FMS since 2008 and has served in multiple capacities, including instructional leader, basketball coach, and team leader. FMS principal Amy Cochran said Reiter is always willing to take risks and try new things. “There is not much that I cannot count on Drew to be willing to try and dive into!" she said.
Creative in his lesson planning, Reiter is always coming up with different ideas and unique ways to meet the needs of students. Cochran shared a conversation a student had with her. “The student told me ‘I understood math this year better than I ever have this year because of Mr. Reiter. He is always coming up with different ways of explaining things so I understand. He makes math relatable to real life situations,’” said Cochran.
Reiter is willing to help colleagues brainstorm new strategies for their students, and then help them follow through with implementation. He has served as a mentor to new teachers and helped coach others to become the best they can be. In addition, any time the school is implementing new initiatives, Reiter is an outside-of-the-box thinker and is helpful in thinking of things that may have missed.
Reiter is a trusted teacher and colleague who brings a positive attitude to work every single day. He is an advocate, a coach, a mentor and always willing to go above and beyond. He represents what Fridley is all about - community and family. His wife Kari is also an employee!
“Fridley Middle School is so lucky to have Drew Reiter as a teacher and instructional coach,” said Cochran, who added that she was deeply honored to introduce him as the 2019-2020 Fridley Middle School Teacher of Excellence!