Teacher Innovator

Learning fractions can be a challenge for fourth and fifth graders, but students in Ryan Hammer’s class sing as they sum. The River Woods Elementary School teacher uses smash hits like “Least Common Denominator” and “Letter B” to teach. It was that creativity that helped Hammer get selected for OfficeMax’s Teacher Innovator for the month of March.

Hammer’s fourth and fifth grade students don’t just circle the correct answer they sing it. His musical gift and his dedication in the classroom earned him the title of Teacher Innovator for the month of March.

“I feel like out of all the amazing teachers here at this school any one of them could have truly won this award,” said Hammer. “I’ll accept it, I’ll definitely accept it I’m honored by it, but I accept it kind of for the amazing work that’s going on here.”

Using music to help his students learn is nothing new for Hammer. He’s been doing it since he started at River Woods Elementary five years ago.

“In a poetry unit we look at Beatles lyrics and Springsteen lyrics and I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan so I have Michael Jackson stuff all over the room,” said Hammer.

The nomination comes from Stacy Kokes and her son, Kyle, who is a fourth grader in Hammer’s class. Thanks to the Kokes, Hammer has a brand new digital camera, printer and $400 OfficeMax gift card.

“He’s given Kyle so much confidence and just an amazing grasp of taking responsibility-taking pride in his work taking pride in himself,” said Stacy Kokes.

Hammer’s goal is simply to make learning fun for all of his students. Something his boss say he’s really good at

“He’s in there learning with the kids. Sometimes when you walk in his room you can’t find him because he’s right in there,” said Robyn Rippel, the principal of River Woods Elementary School.

“He’s awesome, he’s fun, he’s funny and we play a lot of games with him and he just makes everything fun and that’s what I really love about him,” said Kyle Kokes.

Hammer and his students say they are still waiting for a record deal.

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