Pam Vickrey, a 2nd grade teacher at Winfield Elementary School in Crown Point and the 2012-2013 Crown Point Elementary Teacher of The Year, has lived in Portage her entire life. She attended grade school through high school in the Portage School System. Pam continued her education at Purdue University West Lafayette where she obtained her bachelors of arts in education in 1989. She then went on to get her masters of science in education from Indiana University Northwest in 1993.
Vickrey has been working in the Crown Point Community School Corporation for a total of 28 years now.
“I absolutely love where I teach. The kids and their families are incredible. For the first time in my teaching career, I have a student whose mother was my student during my first year of teaching and that is just such an amazing feeling,” Vickrey stated.
Vickrey has taught a handful of different grade levels, but she currently teaches 2nd grade, which is the grade level she taught when she first began teaching.
“I started out teaching 2nd grade and I will probably retire teaching 2nd grade. I have taught 1st through 4th grade and I have also taught 3rd through 6th grade in the gifted and talented program, and I just went back to 2nd grade a few years ago,” she said. “So, I will probably start and end in the same place.”
Everyday, Vickrey and her fellow Winfield colleagues work hard to make sure all the students they teach are engaged and eager to learn throughout the day.
“My initial goal every year is to find a way to make the kids love to come to school because if they love coming, then they are going to learn,” she said. “I work with a really great team of seven teachers and we do everything we can to make learning exciting and engaging for our students.”
She does this by picking topics that the children would be interested in while she teaches, such as tailoring math story problems around the storyline of the newest movie out in theaters.
Vickrey’s own 1st grade teacher is what inspired her to become a teacher at a young age.
“I had a lot of really great teachers in Portage. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in 1st grade,” she said. “I remember my 1st grade teacher and I always strive to be like her because I absolutely loved going to school in 1st grade.”
Some of the educational and fun activities that Vickrey and the other Winfield Elementary staff do include a lot of theme days throughout the year, like the 100th day of school, to keep the kids interested. For the Chinese New Year Celebration, they read a mystery titled “The New Year Dragon Dilemma,” studied Chinese traditions, and even had Chinese food delivered to the classroom. For the “Stuart Little” One School, One Book study, they had a pet mouse in the school.
When Vickrey is not done teaching once the end of the school day bell rings; she keeps involved with after-school activities during the week as well.
“I do a kindergarten friendship bucket club, which I have done for several years now, to teach the kindergarteners to be leaders in their communities and schools,” Vickrey said.
“There have been many changes in education over the years, but the one constant is always the kids… the kids are truly amazing,” she said, speaking on her favorite part about teaching.
Vickrey has been married to her husband, Larry for 27 years, yet they graduated high school together and knew each other way before then.
“Larry was actually in my 3rd grade class, so I have known him since elementary school,” she said. “I always tell my students to be nice to each other because you never know.”
Outside of teaching, Vickrey enjoys spending time with her family – she has a son named Brandon who recently graduated from Valparaiso University and is a former employee for Ideas in Motion Media – and enjoys time with her friends. Reading, she said, is another favorite pastime and loves being taken away to new places within its pages.
Vickrey has lived in Portage for her entire life and even raised her family in Portage, but she claims it is her family, friends, her Crown Point elementary school job, and the location that keep her here in Northwest Indiana.
“The Portage location is fantastic. It is close to Michigan and Chicago, which are both great areas to do things in,” she said. “I love this area. I look forward to getting up everyday because life is grand. If you love what you do, life is easy.”