Bittinger Named Shelby County High School Teacher of the Year

Cindy Warner, Shelby County Schools Public Relations Supervisor

Amanda Bittinger has been teaching for 19 years, including the past 13 years in the Shelby County School District at Oak Mountain High School. She teaches honors precalculus and AP calculus AB and BC for 11th and 12th grade. Her leadership contributions to her school include serving as the Advanced Mathematics Team coach, Mentor Program coordinator, School Improvement Team member, and Precalculus and Calculus Learning Team lead teacher.

Previous honors include Walmart Teacher of the Year (2007); ABC 33/40 and Food World Teacher of the Year (2007); Oak Mountain Teacher of the Year (2005); Chilton County Teacher of the Year (2000); Maplesville High School Yearbook Dedication (2000 and 2002). She was also one of three Alabama teachers selected to become a member of the Math and Science Teacher Organization at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to attend their week-long engineering and technology conference in June 2004.

“The single most important factor that influenced me to become a teacher was my high school mathematics teacher, Mr. Ned Lowery,” Bittinger said. “I really hated math and never understood the true meaning behind many of the concepts until Mr. Lowery took the time to get me interested in math and gave me the confidence that I needed to be successful at it.”

Bittinger said Lowery is to be credited for not only instilling in her a love of math and teaching but also encouraging her to go to college.

“I was from a poor, rural family who just wanted me to graduate high school, but Mr. Lowery showed me that I could do better than just graduate high school,” she said. “He showed me that I could compete with anyone in my class, and he gave me the confidence and skills necessary to compete with almost anyone in college. I not only owe my teaching ability and passion for mathematics to Mr. Lowery, I owe the life that I lead to him. I think God that Mr. Lowery cared enough about me and all of his students to spend the extra time that he did to ensure that we not only learned a lot about mathematics but that we developed as strong individuals as well.

She now strives to be the same type of influence and role model for her own students and to her fellow colleagues. She said her classroom is often filled with students who not only come from extra help with math but also seeking a listening ear to share their problems with.

“I have found that when a student knows that you truly care about them as a person, he/she will go above and beyond what you ask of them in the classroom,” she shared. “I attend many of the school events and activities in which my students participate, and at Christmas, I write each student an individual card with a paragraph that is just for them. This paragraph will contain information that I have learned about them during the year.”

Bittinger agrees that a shortage of quality teachers and others leaving the profession too soon is one major challenge facing education today. Having taught in rural, urban and inner city schools, she also believes inequity in education is also a huge area of concern since the same educational opportunities are not available to all students.

She said she believes that teaching is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling careers that anyone can ever have.

“I also believe that students should be treated with care, patience and respect,” she said. “I do not treat my students as just people who enter my class on a day-to-day basis to receive math knowledge. At the beginning of the year, I make a point to know my students’ names and something unique about them by the second day of class.”

“I hope that can be remembered in the minds of my students as someone who made them realize the value of hard work and resilience and someone who truly cared about them,” Bittinger continued. “My goal every day is to make each and every one of my students’ lives better, to fill their minds with knowledge of mathematics, with the love for learning, with the confidence to succeed in every aspect of their lives, with the determination to never give up on their dreams, with the importance of respect for those around them, and with the understanding of the importance of showing kindness and sincerity toward everyone they meet.”