In Anne Biram’s first year as an elementary school teacher at Seitz Elementary School on Fort Riley, she racked up a list of accomplishments.
One of those accomplishments now includes winning the Horizon Award from Unified School District 475.
Biram, who teaches first grade, was presented with her award, which goes yearly to outstanding new teachers in the district, by USD 475 Superintendent Reginald Eggleston at a Monday night Board of Education meeting.
Teaching may have been Biram’s destiny.
“Growing up, I just always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I have three siblings and I would make them play school with me all the time — they didn’t like it. But i just always loved hanging out with kids.”
Biram almost didn’t go into education because she grew tired of her parents telling her she ought to be a teacher.
She resisted until she finally started college and took an introduction to teaching course that allowed her to step into the classroom in her first semester.
“I fell in love with it,” Biram said.
She has stayed in love with her profession,
“The biggest joy is just getting to build relationships with students and getting to see their growth and just seeing them show themselves that they are capable,” Biram said. “When they finally realize “i can do this' and they change their mindset, that is the most rewarding thing — just to see that they realize they’re growing.”
Her passion has stayed despite having taught through the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — and consequently had to teach her young students in virtual school last semester.
“It’s definitely been an interesting time to be a first year teacher with the pandemic,” she said. “It’s been really challenging to see a lot of shifts and there’s already been a lot of changes from going remote."
Biram’s students are back in the brick and mortar classroom this semester, but her current students are still adjusting to routine due to having been virtual for much of last semester, which is sometimes a challenge.
“I think it’s been hard for me to remember how little they are and how long it takes them to get used to something new,” she said.
While the adjustment has been hard for both teacher and students, it’s still fun to go to school every day.
“They’re so much fun,” Biram said. “Their joy and just their excitement about school makes everything so worth it."
She came to the Junction City area through an engagement with a soldier that brought her to Fort Riley.
“I head so many amazing things about the school district,” Biram said, in researching the area prior to their move.
She had initially been scheduled to work at a school off post, but was shifted to Seitz.
“I ended up here by chance but I have loved it and I’m so glad I did,” she said.
The experience has taught Biram a level of flexibility.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is just to be flexible and don’t be afraid to change it when it’s not working … just keep in mind that everything we’re planning is for the kids,” she said. “Being flexible for them and doing what works best for them is the most important thing I think you can do in the classroom on a daily basis."
Biram’s Principal Jodi Testa said she earned the award by distinguishing herself from other young educators and taking on leadership rolls at Seitz.
According to Testa, last year Biram taught fifth grade and made connections with students who had “never really made a solid connection with their teacher before and her resiliency in knowing that she could pull out the best in a kid really shone above what a typical teacher does.”
Biram also stepped up as a building leader at her school, Testa said.
“She worked over the summer on our social-emotional lessons that are taught kindergarten through fifth grade,” Testa said. “So she put the structure to those for us and that just really helped our kids and our school from kindergarten through fifth.”
Testa described Biram as “incredibly humble.”
“I think that’s part of what makes her incredible,” Testa said. “She’s a collaborator, she’s a learner, she’s not afraid to ask any questions, she’s very approachable by students, by parents and then also our staff and those are qualities as a principal — I can’t teach those qualities. She brought them in and that’s a huge reason why she’s successful."