“Be the person you needed when you were little.”
That’s what being an educator is all about for Amber Dwyer.
“Since the first day I read this quote many years ago, this has been at the heart of my teaching practice,” she said.
Dwyer is a 3rd-grade math and science teacher at Alvaton Elementary School (Warren County) and has 19 years of teaching experience.
Dwyer said she had always dreamed of becoming an elementary school teacher. Her passion for education comes from a challenging childhood.
“School was truly my saving grace,” she said. “It was a safe, loving environment where I could go and learn all about the fascinating world around me. I was hooked from the moment I stepped into the building.”
After graduating high school, Dwyer went on to receive a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education, both from Western Kentucky University (WKU). She was the first in her family to graduate college.
She began her career at T.C. Cherry and Potter Elementary Schools (Bowling Green Independent) and spent 13 years teaching there before relocating to New York City. There, she taught at Amber Charter School in East Harlem.
“As a lifelong Kentucky resident, moving to New York City was a huge culture shock for me,” Dwyer said. “My experience teaching in an inner-city school in the nation’s largest city was truly the most impactful experience of my teaching career.”
After four years in New York, Dwyer moved back to Kentucky and began working at Alvaton.
While at Amber Charter School, Dwyer decided to step out of her comfort zone and become a 4th-grade team leader, which opened the door for her to become a 3rd-grade team leader at Alvaton and to lead in other ways.
She has been a mentor teacher and has hosted both student teachers and WKU practicum students. She currently serves as Alvaton Elementary School’s Beta Club sponsor, academic team coach and co-sponsor of the Leading Ladies club.
“Stepping up and becoming a teacher leader has honestly become one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” she said. “I’m excited to continue to share my love and passion for teaching with my students and colleagues for many years to come.”
Over the years, Dwyer has been recognized for her successful teaching abilities and leadership skills. She won the 2007 Teacher of the Year Award at T.C. Cherry Elementary School, was a 2015 Save Our Kids Coalition Teacher Hero Award nominee and a 2017 New York City Big Apple Teacher of the Year nominee. She was a 2023 Campbellsville University Excellence in Teaching Award recipient and won the 2023 WKU Distinguished Educator Award for Innovation. She also is a 2024 Kentucky Teacher Achievement Award winner.
Ultimately, Dwyer hopes to make her students feel as welcomed and accepted at school as she was in her early days.
“Keeping (the) lines of communication open and the relationships with students strong can make the difference in the future of a child sitting in your class,” she said. “Be that adult who is encouraging and excited to see them. Be that adult with (whom) they can confide. Be the first one to greet them with a smile and a hug every morning. Be their biggest supporter. Most importantly, be the person they need.”