The Saginaw Valley League created the Teacher of the Year award to recognize excellence in teaching for teachers at the high school level who have taught for a minimum of five years. Each school in the Saginaw Valley awards one of their teachers every year. On April 29, DHS awarded psychology teacher and head cheer coach, Kathy Snyder, SVL Teacher of the Year.
“I feel very honored and excited,” Snyder said in an email interview. “This is such an outstanding staff to work with. I am so thankful for everything this staff does to make this school a great place.”
Snyder has been the head cheer coach at DHS since 1993 and began teaching here in 1997. Throughout her time at DHS, Snyder has become popular with many students at DHS and her psychology class is a favorite as well. Nomination letters submitted by students and staff sang the praises of Snyder, as seen below.
“Mrs. Snyder teaches my IB/AP Psychology class. As a sixth hour, I usually dread the end of the day. However, Mrs. Snyder never fails to have an upbeat and positive attitude unlike any other teacher I’ve had before. This positive energy exemplifies her love for teaching and her care for her students.”
“[Snyder] is the most organized and pleasant IB teacher; her paperwork is flawless and she never complains. I know her positive attitude translates into success for her students. She always puts kids first!”
“[Snyder] is supportive, fair, and professional with her students. She is positive, pleasant and affirming with her colleagues. She is a treasure—we’re so lucky to have her setting a great tone at Dow High.”
“Whenever I ask for help, she is always willing to go the extra mile and make sure that I understand the material.”
“Mrs. Snyder finds a way to teach the material in a current way with videos, real psychology experiments, and simulations that make her students excited to come to her class every day. I am considering a career in criminal psychology because of what I have been exposed to in her class.”
While some teachers who also coach sports may approach the two differently, Snyder’s approach to coaching and teaching are the same as well as her expectations of her students.
“I like to have fun with both,” Snyder said. “I hope they learn a lot about the content (either psychology or cheer) and about life. I expect them to work hard and I want them to be able to look back with positive memories of the experience.”
Attitude and relationships with other people are very important to Snyder. Doing what needs to be done well, having a positive outlook and helping other people are all things Snyder tries to do every day and are qualities that she hopes her students will follow as well. Snyder also has a list of rules by another Snyder that she found one day while reading a book. Former football coach Bill Snyder of Kansas State University created rules for success that really resonated with Kathy when she read them:
- Improve every day as a player, as a person, as a student.
- Care about your teammates, friends and family.
- Show great effort and enthusiasm
- Associate with only quality people.
- Expect more of yourself, always.
- Do it right, don’t expect less.
- Be genuine
- Make discipline a way of life
Senior Austin Woody is on the SVL Teacher of the Year Committee and aids in the selection process as well as connecting with the student body.
“I announce the winner of the award and encourage students to nominate teachers,” Woody said.
The committee takes nominations for teachers from anyone in the community and examines the role the teachers play at DHS. How they interact with their class while they teach as well as the activities they participate in outside of DHS are considered.
“[We look for] someone who might coach sports, develops good relationships with students and someone who keeps things fascinating and exciting for students in the classroom,” Woody said.
Not only does Snyder teach and coach at DHS, she is also involved with other organizations.
“I am on the Board of Directors for The ROCK, which is a center for youth development here in Midland,” Snyder said. “I also am an interviewer for [Master of Applied Positive Psychology] candidates for University of Pennsylvania’s MAPP program.”
Like the teachers who’ve received the award before her, Snyder takes part in many activities and plays a role in making the lives of both students and others in the community better. With this award, the community is finally able to say thank her for the positive impact she has made on Midland.