Airline Teacher Wins State High School Teacher of the Year
Any student that has taken a math class at Airline under Dr. Anita Szombathelyi will be quick to say she expects excellence. She expects the same for herself as an educator and is why she was recently named the 2014-15 Louisiana State High School Teacher of the Year.
Szombathelyi was recognized at the annual Teacher of the Year ceremony July 12 in Baton Rouge. The program is co-sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Education, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Dream Teachers. Its purpose is to recognize and honor top performing teachers in the state that represent best practices and outcomes in the classroom.
“It’s a big honor because it is recognizing your hard work and affirms what you are doing,” Dr. Szombathelyi said. “It is definitely a big honor to bring it back to Northwest Louisiana. I’ve very proud to bring it back to Bossier.”
So what are the keys to student success in Szombathelyi’s class? The three P’s: patience, perseverance and practice. She also believes in teaching conceptual learning.
“I’m not teaching them procedural skills. They must have good problem solving skills,” Szombathelyi explained. By teaching the ‘why’ rather than solely the ‘how’ the State High School Teacher of the Year said it better prepares students for life, no matter their career path. It works, too.
“I like to feel educators make a difference in students’ lives. Seeing the sparks in their eyes is priceless, them raising their hands and literally fighting to answer questions,” Szombathelyi added as she smiled.
Airline Assistant Principal Horda Semdani sings Dr. Szombathelyi’s praises. Before joining the Airline administration, Semdani was a math teacher herself at Greenacres Middle School and attended various workshops that Szombathelyi facilitated outside of class.
“She made me an excellent teacher,” Semdani said. “I went from being a procedural teacher to a conceptual teacher. ‘Why do you do math the way you do it?’ She taught me the importance of explaining why.”
Now Dr. Szombathelyi will take her classroom skills and begin a new chapter in her education career, teaching teachers. Bossier Schools has chosen her as the Curriculum Coach at Cope Middle School. While Airline will sorely miss her, who better to implement professional development than the top teacher in the state?
"We are very proud of her accomplishments and express our gratitude and appreciation for the impact she has had on her students and our school system," said Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen. "A job well done!"