Bryan Elementary School
"I teach for the stories," says Shanie Mantz, educator at Bryan Elementary School. "Most people have a story they tell themselves about why they aren't successful in school. Special education teachers get the unique opportunity to intervene at a challenging time in a student's life. It provides us the opportunity to work with general education teachers, families and school staff to change the stories students tell themselves about school."
Shanie says from the 16 years she has spent teaching, there isn't one student she hasn't learned something from. Now, she works with children in kindergarten, first grade and second grade at Bryan.
"Teachers never stop teaching. The work teachers do is hard. Often, we don't get to see the results of our work," Shanie says, "but the few times we do get to see them, it's incredibly gratifying. Changing the trajectory of someone's life is neither easy nor simple. That's what teachers do."
The work doesn’t stop outside the classroom; Shanie says something the general public may not know about teachers is just how much they pour into their students' lives. "It's not a 9 to 5 job. It requires all of your emotional, physical and mental energy in a way that nothing else can," she describes.
"I think Parker Palmer said it best: 'When you love your work that much, as many teachers do, the only way to get out of trouble is to go deeper in,'" Shanie says. "As a teacher, going deeper means sitting with a student who's having a rough moment and fully listening to them through my lunch break and eating lunch after school. It means dropping off a Turkey Trot pie to the home of a student who wasn't there to receive it, in my own car, on my own time, with my own gas. Going deeper means although every student cannot have an individualized education plan, every single one deserves to have an individual experience. When students walk away from my math group, they feel seen, heard and valued."
Shanie says she knows the people of Coeur d'Alene know teachers care. "The recent levy and school board elections show that the city values education and believes in the direction that District 271 is going," she says. "I feel lucky to live, work, and raise my children in Coeur d'Alene Public Schools."
Above all, Shanie hopes to instill in her students that they “can do hard things.” It’s simple but profound.
"If I can give students a template for doing hard things, they can be successful in anything," Shanie says. "We teach students this by giving them repeated opportunities to succeed, fail, and work hard every day. From these, they can learn to persevere, press through challenges, motivate themselves, work hard, set goals, drown out the naysayers, buckle down, advocate for themselves. We can all learn how to do hard things."