Clarke N. Johnsen Junior High School

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A look back at the 2018 Teacher of the Year

Copper Canyon Elementary Principal Terri Chynoweth, who oversees Liptac, delighted in nominating her, calling her “an expert in her field.”


“Sam continues to be a lifelong learner by attending training to hone her skills in the classroom and shares the knowledge gained with staff members through professional development,” said Chynoweth. “Sam's dedication is apparent throughout our school and we are fortunate to have her on our team.”


Liptac serves as a Professional Learning Community leader, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports member, Safety Team member, Art Club chair, and school-wide prevention team member. She has been teaching fourth grade at Copper Canyon Elementary for 10 years.


“As a fourth-grade team member, Sam uses technology to create innovative lesson plans, that are used by all team members, to engage students in the learning process,” said Chynoweth.


Her favorite part of being a teacher is seeing those little moments when a student grasps a new concept.


“When they get it, it’s like the light bulb goes on and you can see the excitement in their faces… it opens their world to a whole new stream of ideas,”

said Liptac.


Such joy in seeing her students succeed fits right in with her teaching philosophy which is based around having a growth mindset.

 

“Sam guides students to have a growth mindset where their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies and input from others,” said Chynoweth. “She is always going the extra mile to help her students have academic success.”


Liptac grew up in Billings, Montana and attended college at Montana State University, Billings. Though her original plan was to go into accounting, as the semesters went by, she found herself leaning more toward a teaching degree. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in mathematics in 2009.


She enjoys the subjects she teaches but especially likes the informational stories about Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Esther Morris.


“They are inspirational people for these kids to look up to,” said Liptac. “They see how even though those people struggled and had hard backgrounds, they did all these amazing things.”


Liptac couldn’t believe she had won Certified Professional of the Year for the district. She credits her co-workers and family for helping her achieve the award. She jokes she would “break into twenty-something pieces without them.”