MNPS Voices: Norma Yoos

Norma Yoos, First-grade Teacher, Gower Elementary School
Posted on 05/19/2022
Teacher Norma Yoos

Norma Yoos had a long career outside of education and spent a lot of time in the theater before she landed at MNPS, eventually leading to her selection as Gower Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for 2021-22. teacher Norma Yoos

Yoos grew up on the family farm in southwest Missouri, a mile from the Kansas state line. She completed her bachelor in fine arts degree in theater at Missouri State University. Then she spent 20 years doing a wide range of jobs so she would have time for acting, directing, producing original plays, playwriting, storytelling, children’s theater, and writing and directing Readers Theater.

When asked about the source of inspiration for her successful educational career, Yoos said, “I had the good fortune to have excellent, dedicated teachers from high school on through college that asked that we look deeply into ourselves and the world around us to really see our place in the world, the worth of work, and to strive for excellence always, no matter what path our work and talents took us.”

Yoos’s career in Metro Schools began as a kindergarten teacher at Whitsitt Elementary in 2007. Since 2015, she has been teaching first grade at Gower Elementary. She has worked in self-contained English Learner classrooms and EL/General Education blended classrooms.

Being selected as Teacher of the Year has been quite meaningful for Yoos.

“I was honored to be selected by my colleagues to represent Gower,” she says. “It has given me the opportunity to reflect on my journey in teaching and learning. I have spoken to many people I have worked with over the years here in Nashville but also throughout my career around the country.”

Yoos’s philosophy for an enjoyable and successful career as a teacher stems from a variety of principles she strives to apply regularly. First, “I believe in love: A teacher’s love is asking the best for and from students. If students feel seen, understood and loved, they have the courage to learn and try what seems so difficult at first,” she says.

In addition, Yoos finds Newtonian physics very helpful in teaching, especially the Laws of Motion: A student in motion stays in motion, and a student at rest needs to get working and build momentum.

“Succinctly, do something, learn something; do nothing, learn nothing. One of my first-grade students last year added: do more, learn more.”

Yoos also loves to share with her students the five-finger essential rule of things to say to move forward, which are sometimes difficult to articulate:

1. I love/like you (or myself).
2. Thank you.
3. I'm sorry.
4. I don’t know.
5. I need help.

“I am grateful for the guidance and help I have received over the years,” she says. “I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t followed my path into teaching, but I am certainly glad I did!

“I am especially grateful to our English Learner students and their families negotiating the joys and challenges of thinking, communicating and understanding the world in two or more languages. Thank you, parents and students, for maintaining your mother language and culture for your heart and family. Thank you for including me, too. You enrich our school, city and country. I am so proud of you for being you!”

Outside of her busy work in MNPS, Yoos enjoys gardening, cooking, nature walks, reading good literature and writing. Traveling the world is her greatest joy whenever she has the opportunity. Her destinations have included Kenya, Denmark, Australia, France and Besigheim, Germany, the village where her Yoos family originated.

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