Real responses to questions everyone wants answered by a 2016 Arizona Educational Foundation Ambassador for Excellence. Angelia Ebner is a fifth grade teacher at Maricopa Elementary School in the Maricopa Unified School District. In November, the Arizona Educational Foundation named Ebner a 2016 Am

Dec 15, 2015

Real responses to questions everyone wants answered by a 2016 Arizona Educational Foundation Ambassador for Excellence.

Angelia Ebner is a fifth grade teacher at Maricopa Elementary School in the Maricopa Unified School District. In November, the Arizona Educational Foundation named Ebner a 2016 Ambassador of Excellence.

What is your go-to idea for engaging reluctant learners?

AE: My go to idea for reluctant learners if often humor. I have found that with some silly voices, faces, or stories you can entice even the coolest kid in the class to ask themselves the question, “ What will this weird teacher do next?” It’s magic!

What is something parents should do to support their child’s learning?

AE: One thing parents should do is dialogue with their kiddos about what is happening in their academic life, as well as their social and emotional lives. When kids feel like their parents value what they are doing at school and are there to celebrate successes with them, they put so much more heart into what they do. It is such a special moment to tell a parent how much their child has grown as a result of hard work from both the student and the parent, seeing the pride in both sets of eyes. Parents have permission to bug their kids until they tell them everything about their day.

Who is the teacher that inspired you?

AE: There were many teachers who inspired me over the years. The ones who showed how much they cared about my success and did everything they could to help me achieve. I have teachers that truly inspired me at pivotal points in my life. In kindergarten, Mrs. White had her giant cockatoo on her shoulder everyday and began my love of reading [and teaching it]. In high school, Mr. Saunders was an amazing social studies teacher and taught me how to work hard and connect with students on a real yet personal level. In my undergrad, Dr. Rice was my cohort professor and she instilled in her students a passion and love for educating students and she did everything she could to get us the most beneficial programs and instructors to help prepare us for our lives work.

Why do you teach?

AE: I teach because I want to see students succeed and grow. I want to be a part of their becoming lifelong learners, questioners and thinkers. I teach because the moment that a student has an ‘aha moment’ in class, it changes who we both are for life. I teach because I want to make a difference in my students’ lives.

What should students get their teacher during the holiday season?

AE: The best gifts I have ever received as a teacher are homemade. I have an amazing clock decorated with school supplies and a glass storage container to which a student glued color pencils and hearts. During the holiday season, hugs and school supplies are the best gifts I can get. A hug tells me that my students know I care and that they care too, and school supplies help me prepare for third quarter.

What is your favorite educational movie?

AE: My favorite educational movie is probably Lean On Me with Morgan Freeman. Joe Clark was tough on kids, way more than I would be, but he wanted a safe environment for his students to come and learn. They respected him for it and he was able to change the culture on his campus.

What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?

AE: My favorite lesson to teach in the classroom is about matter. It is a solids, liquids and gasses lesson. I love how hands-on it is. This is truly a unit more than a lesson. The way it motivates second graders to begin investigating the world around them is absolutely magical.

What is your funniest moment in the classroom?

AE: The funniest moment in my classroom actually came from the solids, liquids and gasses unit. As I was walking my class to lunch one day, my amazingly brilliant student Ryan turns to me and asks, “ So a fart is a physical change or a chemical change? I mean I put food in and it comes out as gas, so physical or chemical Mrs. Ebner?” He is amazing and I will never forget the moment that science became real life for him!

What is one thing you would change to improve teaching and learning in AZ schools?

AE: One thing we should do to improve schools in Arizona is fund them. Educators are working not only on limited budgets, but also in fear of losing even more student programs. Even more, as teachers, we need to find a way to fund the mandates that we have, while helping to lower the student-teacher ratios. Often, the high student-teacher ratio is not due to overcrowding in a school, but simply to the fact we cannot recruit or retain enough highly qualified teachers to fill positions. Students deserve our best teachers and programs in grades K-12. As educators, we are faced with students who focus on surviving each day because of circumstances beyond their control; we call these emergency room situations. My school should not be in an emergency room situation focused on surviving the next round of budget cuts and mandates.

Apple or pumpkin pie?

AE: Pumpkin, of course, unless there is cake. If there is cake, let’s eat frosting instead.

Call to Action: Learn more about Angelia Ebner by watching a short YouTube video. (

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