Amy Sundem’s fourth grade students at Sand Creek Elementary School in Coon Rapids are proud to call themselves, “Sundem Superstars.” And to Sundem, “Once a Sundem Superstar, Always a Sundem Superstar.”
Each week, she selects a few students to share her lunch hour with her. This provides her an opportunity to dig deeper into the lives of her students. At least twice a semester, every student can expect a positive phone call, email or postcard.
“My Sundem Superstars belong to a community that is embedded with love, trust, humor, and compassion,” she said.
For her work, Sundem, the daughter of Rick and Sue Wurdemann and 1992 graduate of Forest Lake High School, has received a “2012 Above & Beyond Award” from the Anoka-Hennepin School District and Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation (AHEF).
The first year of the program, 10 Anoka-Hennepin staff members received an award. The largest school district in the state, Anoka-Hennepin has about 6,000 employees.
Kathy Wolfe, a parent, nominated Sundem. Wolfe appreciates the encouraging post cards and thank you cards Sundem has sent to her daughter.
In her nomination, Wolfe said the cards have given her child the positive reinforcement she needs to keep up her hard work. Sundem has placed Wolfe’s daughter in groups of students she thinks would be a good fit for her, and in doing so has helped the student to gain confidence and find her voice.
From an early age, Sundem knew she wanted to be a teacher. In first grade she would often ask for permission to go to the restroom just so she could walk past classrooms and wonder which, as a teacher, would be hers.
“I just loved feeling that someday I would be the person in front of the classroom teaching,” said Sundem, who has been at Sand Creek for 10 years. “I feel fortunate I’ve always known what I wanted to do.”
In making her dream come true, Sundem feels honored to be part of the noble profession of teaching.
“I love the fact I love my job,” Sundem said. “I get to work with kids every day. They make me laugh. Sometimes they make me cry; but that’s alright because my students see me as a person, not just a teacher, and I think that’s important.”
Sundem said she was excited to receive an Above & Beyond Award because she really makes a point to go above and beyond for her students every day.
“I really want kids as adults to look back and think, ‘Mrs. Sundem really cared for me and made learning fun and meaningful.’”