"I told Mrs. Anderson that if he could, my son would bottle her up and take her with him to fourth grade." -- parent Andrea Chaffin

Buckeye Woods Elementary School teacher Amy Anderson believes engaging her students is the key to educating them.

"I try to make the classroom a fun place to be," said Anderson, one of three winners in the Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News 2017 Teachers of the Year contest.

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } Buckeye Woods Elementary School teacher Amy Anderson prepares for a photo after learning she's been chosen as a Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News 2017 Teacher of the Year.

"I want it to be a place they want to come to every day. If they're having fun, they are more likely to be learning," she said.

"I'll often use a sports theme and I'll be the coach, athlete and cheerleader," Anderson said. "I have my pom-poms to help cheer my students on."

She also has a song for her students almost every day.

"That's my big thing -- I can come up with a song about everything," she said. "For math, we did a 'Math Macarena' to learn about geometry."

Jennifer O'Bryan knows firsthand the impact Anderson's methods can have on a student and it led her to nominate Anderson for the award.

This year, 133 Teachers of the Year nominations were received for educators all over central Ohio.

The editorial staffs of both sponsors chose 15 finalists and put them up for a public vote. Three winners were chosen: one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Anderson, the winner at the elementary school level, received her award at an assembly held May 18 at the school.

O'Bryan's son, Alex, was in Anderson's class five years ago.

"He was struggling a bit the first two years and school wasn't a place he really wanted to be," O'Bryan said. "But Mrs. Anderson made learning fun and he began to look forward to going to school.

"He's going into eighth grade now, and he still has her picture up in his room," she said. "He adored her and she's still an inspiration and influence on him to this day. What more can you say about a teacher?"

O'Bryan was one of two parents who nominated Anderson.

Andrea Chaffin's son, Connor, spent the past school year in Anderson's class. Chaffin also served as a volunteer in the classroom.

"She's an amazing teacher," Chaffin said. "The way she comes up with different themes for her lessons, she's always trying to put a fun spin on things. It helps keep her students engaged.

"I told Mrs. Anderson that if he could, my son would bottle her up and take her with him to fourth grade," she said. "I feel so lucky to have her impact my son's academics. She's left her mark on him."

Anderson, 44, lives in Dublin and has taught most of her 22-year career in the South-Western City School District, including the past 11 years at Buckeye Woods. Before that, she taught at the district's Finland Middle School and Alton Hall Elementary School. She began her career teaching in Cleveland.

Her original intention was to become a youth minister, Anderson said.

"I made the change in college," she said. "I realized I loved the chance teaching would give to be able to impact children on a daily basis.

"Teaching was the right choice for me," Anderson said. "It's not just my career -- it's my passion."

The best part of teaching is making a connection with her students, she said.

The biggest change over her career has been the increased emphasis on standardized testing at the elementary school level, Anderson said.

"Especially with something like the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, that's a lot of stress to be putting on 8- and 9-year-olds, and they do feel that pressure," she said.

Anderson earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1994 from Capital University and a master's degree in the art of teaching and learning in 2001 from Nova Southeastern University.

She and her husband, Kyle, have three children, ages 19, 11 and 6.

"I became a better teacher after becoming a mother," Anderson said. "It helped me understand what parents were looking for. Teachers and parents both want the same thing for students, but it comes from different perspectives."

Buckeye Woods principal Jenniffer Kauffeld said the care and concern Anderson has for her students as individuals shines through in her teaching.

"Amy has such a positive impact on her students. She brings a sense of fun to everything she does in the classroom," Kauffeld said.

"I was truly honored to win this award, but I know I'm just part of an amazing team of teachers at Buckeye Woods," Anderson said.

This year's other Teachers of the Year winners are Mary Potter of the Wellington School in Upper Arlington (middle school) and Kristy Halleck of Central Crossing High School, also in the South-Western City School District (high school).