Position: Fourth Grade Teacher
School: Doris French Elementary School
School District: Clark County School District
City, State: Las Vegas, Nevada
About the Nominee: Horst Wetjen is not just a teacher for his students; he is a superhero, too! Each student remains a unique individual within his classroom and is respected for their individual qualities. He really gets to know each of his 36 students, their families and personal interests. Mr Wetjen uses the information he learns to create lessons that tap into the individuality of his students and engage them in higher levels of learning. He has consistently taken under-performing students and has set high bars for them in all areas of academics. Through his knowledge of them as individuals, he then provides the scaffolding to reach those bars. Additionally, he provides families with educational resources to assist their child with reaching these goals. Mr. Wetjen's impact is not limited to the classroom; he seeks resources for field trips so that underprivileged students at Doris French Elementary School can have access to the same events and trips as their peers. He visits students when they are in the hospital and makes calls home when his students or fellow staff members are ill to offer assistance. He has even visited students' new schools to make sure they have transitioned smoothly and to deliver cards from classmates!
Mr. Wetjen has worked to bring technology to the school's classrooms by identifying resources for funding and training fellow staff members on how to use the technology to spark students' curiosity and engage them in learning about the world. He has worked with a team to create the Accelerated Learning Model for other schools that want to implement the Gifted and Talented Push-in program. When project-based learning was first implemented at Doris French, he was one of the first ones to see its potential to engage students using a hands-on approach and go into more depth within the content areas. He is currently working with a team to secure funding for more technology and to model project-based learning.
Mr. Wetjen is not just a teacher; he goes above and beyond by reaching out to families and students to assist with the whole person. Year after year, his impact on students and the depth of caring that remains for each student, long after they leave his room, is commendable. His impact on the school and neighborhood communities and his efforts to make both better places make him a superhero to all that meet him. He is a consistent team leader, and his students and colleagues are all grateful to have been a part of the amazing acts of kindness he performs for so many.