Hats off to a worthy teacher

Joseph Mueller’s Exceptional Teacher Award well-earned


Jeffrey M. Ayer
Guest Writer

Congratulations to Forest Lake High School English teacher Joseph Mueller, who, along with Lino Lakes Elementary’s fourth-grade teacher Kirk Bille, received a TIES 2012 Exceptional Teacher Award at the annual TIES Conference in Minneapolis on Dec. 9.

As a fellow educator and resident of Forest Lake, I had planned to write this letter without having had the honor to meet this distinguished teacher, but coincidentally, I met Mueller at the last session of the conference.  In his seventh year at Forest Lake High School and 11th year overall, Mueller has worked to bring attention back to a journalism program that had become both too expensive to print and less popular with students.

His solution has been to marry a television and audio course with the journalism course, thereby creating a mass communications course.  With that, he said he has worked to incorporate “blogging and Twitter as ways to provide content for an online version of the newspaper.”

Initially, Mueller had students create audio and video projects and some written projects, “all leading to the point where they would get to pick up one of four departments that are ubiquitous to this: Academics, Activities, Athletics, and Art.”

Now the class is on the cusp of publishing, and the newspaper will be back in a colorful, interactive digital version, embellishing the program and school events, all while getting students motivated and involved in this process.

In addition, Mueller has installed an Apple TV in his projector, allowing a plethora of pedagogical possibilities, including his ability to project anything from his iPad or iPhone wirelessly, and his students’ ability to share content, like videos, from their own iPad, iPhone, or iPod. Early in the school year, students had to create drawings that reflected various important events in their lives.

“Normally students would have brought the drawings up to the front of the room and holding it up, and pointing to it in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to see it,” said Mueller; but with this technology, Mueller passed his iPad around, and using the camera, students captured the drawings and then were able to digitally project the drawings instead.

Mueller said he hopes to continue to integrate new technologies in the courses he teaches, inspiring us all in his tireless journey to find the best practices in teaching through technological innovation in the classroom.

– The writer lives in Forest Lake.