Ms. Brittany Mansfield is the May 2017 Silver Apple Award recipient. She teaches Honors Algebra I and Honors Algebra II at Millennium High School in Goodyear, Arizona.“I’m honored, this is really awesome,” said Mansfield.Mansfield was nominated by 15-year-ol Marielle Ramirez who says she became an A-student with her teacher’s help.Ramirez wrote:“Ms. Mansfield is the best math teacher I’ve ever had. She does everything she can so her students learn the material. She makes time for us before and after school and even has tutoring sessions for those of us who really need it. She is the type of teacher to hook you into the lesson so you actually pay attention. She makes every unit easy to understand. Every student in her class claims she is the best math teacher at Millennium.“It makes me feel good, like what I’m doing is working. It makes me feel like I’m making a difference, like I picked the right job,” said Mansfield.Mansfield was presented a $500 check, a gift bag and class curriculum by Arizona Milk Producers and the Dairy Council of Arizona, a proud sponsor of the Silver Apple Awards.“I love these kids, they’re my little family, they’re all my little babies,” said Mansfield. Each year, a panel of judges from around the community read thousands of worthy student-submitted essays and select eight outstanding teachers to earn a Silver Apple Award.A date when nominations open for the 2017-2018 Silver Apple Awards will be announced in the fall.Get to know Ms. Mansfield better by her questionnaire answers:City of Residence: GoodyearWhy did you decide to get into teaching? I have always wanted to do something in my life where I could help other people. I have always loved math and school, so it seemed like the perfect fit! I have had so many teachers in my life, that have helped me in different ways, and I hope to be able to be that person in someone’s life or be able to simply make a difference for someone.What is your favorite teaching moment?There are a lot of them! I would have to say my favorite thing to happen in the classroom though, is when I can work with students on what I like to call “attacking” a problem, and instead of teaching them and walking them through it, they work alongside of me, bouncing ideas off of one another and working together to make sense of things and proceed to solve it.How did you feel when you realized you won the Silver Apple Award?Completely shocked!! It means the world to me that one of my students thinks highly enough of me to put in the effort to do something like this! I feel so special!!What do you plan on doing with the $500 grant?I have not quite figured it out! I do need more Barbie’s for a project we do in Algebra I, and we are always in need of whiteboard markers and tissue, so we will stock up there, and see what’s left!Please share one of your best practices in the classroom with us.Always make your students feel important and always make sure they know you care! Get to know them outside of the subject area. Knowing a little about them gives you a connection that goes beyond the classroom, and will leave a lasting impression on the both of you.What advice, if any, would you give to new teachers starting their career in the teaching industry?Don’t be afraid to steal! I love my coworkers, and a lot of them have amazing ideas and great strategies they are using in the classroom. I take what they are doing and bring it into my classroom, in a way that works for me and my kids. Also, know that you get better over time! Each year I challenge myself to include one more new thing (when compared to last year), that will benefit and improve the quality of learning for my kids. Finally, do not let anyone make you feel bad about the profession you have chosen. We work long hours, and it is a tough job, but the difference that you can make in a child’s life, even if it is only for one kid, is priceless!What was the greatest life lesson you’ve learned through your teaching experience that has affected your personal life?Building a trusting environment is essential! If a kid trusts you enough, to make mistakes and ask questions they open up a new world of learning. I strive to make that happen for each of my students. I want them to have a quality learning environment, but also a place where they feel comfortable asking for help and being able to make mistakes knowing they will be supported. Building this type of relationship with a student or anyone for that matter is tough and takes time, but it is always worth it!