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UW-Eau Claire Alumna to be Recognized
For Disney Teaching Award on National Broadcast
MAILED: Nov. 30, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — Deb Tackmann, a 1988 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recently was saluted at Disney's American Teacher Award ceremony in Los Angeles, which recognized 35 Honorees for their classroom creativity.
The award ceremony, which was produced by Dick Clark and attended by several celebrities and their favorite teachers, will be televised nationally Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. on Lifetime Television. During the two-hour program, viewers will get a glimpse of the compelling stories behind the 35 extraordinary teachers.
Tackmann, who teaches health education at North High School in Eau Claire, earned a master's degree in education-professional development at UW-Eau Claire. She is one of three finalists in the wellness/sports category and the only Honoree from Wisconsin.
Tackmann says being chosen as one of the 35 teachers out of more than 112,000 nominations is a great honor.
"It will give me multiple opportunities to voice what I'm so passionate about - making a positive difference in the lives of kids through effective health education," Tackmann said.
Disney describes the award recipients as dedicated teachers whose practices exemplify creativity in teaching and who inspire a joy of learning in their students.
Kathy Zipfel, a sophomore who had Tackmann for a class last year and was one of several North students who nominated her for the award, believes Tackmann fits this description.
"Ms. Tackmann makes a connection with her students," Zipfel said. "Not all kids come to her class liking health, but when they leave they have learned a lot, and they have a new friend - someone they know they can come to if they need to talk."
Tackmann is known for challenging her students to explore, learn and choose health-enhancing behaviors. In 1990 she and a group of North High School students developed "Arrive Alive," a three-day peer education, anti-drinking and driving curriculum that has impacted more than 50,000 students in the last 10 years.
"I teach through the eyes and needs of my students and engage them in creative activities that inspire them to think ahead," says Tackmann, who characterizes her teaching as coloring outside the lines. "My hope is that by doing so, students will be empowered to positively improve the quality and quantity of their own lives."
Tackmann is the second North High School teacher and UW-Eau Claire graduate to be selected by Disney. Peggy Hagmann, who taught foreign language, graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1978 with Latin American studies and Spanish degrees and in 1981 with her education degree. In 1995 she was recognized as the top teacher in her category.
Tackmann has been with the Eau Claire Area School District since 1985. She spent five years at DeLong Middle School before going to North High School in 1990.
She credits UW-Eau Claire's team approach to teaching with helping her grow professionally.
"We laid out what I needed and where I wanted to go, and the teaching team at UW-Eau Claire took me on my professional journey," Tackman said.
As an American Teacher Award Honoree, Tackmann was awarded $10,000 and North High School received $5,000. Tackmann and a North administrator also will attend an institute in July 2002 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The institute will kick off a two-year project, supported by Disney Learning Partnership, which will focus on improving professional collaboration and student academic success.
"This award is not about me - it's about what we do as professionals here at North," Tackmann said. "Teaching is not about isolation - it's about collaboration. Without the teachers, staff, students and parents that I work with every day, I would not be the teacher I am."
North High School Principal Tom Fiedler describes Tackmann as an incredibly dedicated teacher.
"She looks at each student as an individual and works at meeting their unique needs; she creates a learning environment that is alive and relevant to today's society; and she tackles tough social issues in a safe environment that allows students to learn as well as feel the emotion surrounding those issues," Fiedler said.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Nov. 30, 2001