Posted Date: 11/09/2020
Crystal Underbakke has been named the Beauregard Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year and the EBHS Middle School Teacher of the Year
“Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way.”
This quote by George Evans captures the philosophy of East Beauregard High School’s seventh grade English Language Arts teacher Crystal Underbakke, who is emphatic that every child can learn.
“All children can learn,” she said. “Some just require more time, work, and love than others.”
She believes that the challenge of educating students with various backgrounds and different learning needs makes teaching such an interesting and rewarding experience.
Underbakke has three goals every year for her classroom, and if she accomplishes them, then her students will reap the rewards.
Her first goal is to establish an inviting learning environment where all children feel like that are an integral part of the classroom.
“When students are valued,” she explained, “when their ideas are recognized, and when they feel safe and supported, learning will happen.”
Her second goal is to motivate students to learn. She believes that students who are engaged and who feel safe openly participating in activities and class discussions will begin to enjoy learning.
Her third goal is to develop life-long learners. She understands that every
student will not love diagramming sentences or analyzing poetry, but she says that every student can learn the skills needed to pursue ideas that do interest them. She encourages them to learn something new every day.
Her favorite thing about teaching is what she calls the “ah-ha moment” when students comprehend a concept they have been working on.
“A best day scenario for me is when my students are engage in the learning process and at least one has the ‘ah-ha moment’ where the information clicks and she or he fully grasps what I have been teaching,” she explained.
Underbakke is the 2020-2021 Beauregard Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year and the EBHS Middle School Teacher of the Year.
She has been a classroom teacher for eighteen years. She taught at DeRidder Junior High School
where she served as the ELA Department Head and at DeRidder High School before moving to East
Beauregard High School six years ago. At EBHS, she has taught English I & II, Speech I, Gifted and
Talented classes, and middle school English and math. She also
serves as the EBHS JR. Beta Club sponsor.
Underbakke earned her Bachelor of Science in General Education from Northwestern
State University. She is certified in grades 1-12 and Special Education Mild/Moderate. She is also
trained in Jane Schaffer Writing Techniques.
Her biggest need as a teacher is support from parents, administrators, and the
Her advice to new educators is to be positive, fair, and supportive. She believes that in doing so,
teachers affect students’ lives and not just their year.
“I teach because it’s what I love to do,” concluded Underbakke. “I feel like teachers
really do make a difference in the world.”