October 2017 Life Changer: Justin Ingham

Hopkins third-grade teacher Justin Ingham found his home when he landed his first post-graduate job at Gatewood Elementary. And 15 years later, he’s just as enthusiastic for his students as he was on the first day.

“I have always loved the diversity and culture growing up in Minneapolis, and I knew I wanted to work in a similar environment one day,” he said. “Gatewood was the first teaching position I held after earning my degree, and it felt like home from the start.”

During his career with Hopkins, he has taught both second and third grades. He prides himself on implementing teaching techniques that are “heavily focused in equity, technology, and personalized learning.” Ingham has been instrumental in implementing flexible classrooms at Gatewood, which give students the opportunity to work in an environment that best suits their learning needs.

Julie Kloos, fellow Gatewood teacher and advocate for flexible classrooms, said Ingham’s innovative idea to get rid of desks has encouraged students to work harder. She said his determination to bring learning into the 21st century has been inspiring to the school as a whole, and now their entire team uses flexible seating.

“He has a fresh view of learning and is willing to go out on a limb to try new things,” Kloos said. “Justin is trustworthy. What he says, he really believes in. He sees the positive in everyone and can bring out the best in his students.”

Background: Justin grew up in Minneapolis and stayed in the Twin Cities for college. He attended and graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

What do you love most about working at Hopkins Public Schools? I love Gatewood because I feel like I am part of the supportive Hopkins community. I value the relationships with students and families. And because I also live here, these connections are carried beyond the school. I love seeing students’ reactions when they see me outside of school.

Proudest moment? With each school year my proudest moment is when a room full of students eventually comes together as a community. From the first day of school, we focus on building our own little community, which provides support, respect, caring, and honesty among their classmates. By the end of each year, it feels as if a family is moving out of the room and on to the next grade.

What is your crowning achievement? Last year I integrated flexible seating into the classroom. Something as simple as offering different seating options can shift how a student learns or dramatically improves their ability to focus.

Stats: Bachelor of Arts from the University of St. Thomas • Justin has worked for Hopkins Schools for 15 years, and all of his career has been spent at Gatewood Elementary School. Over the years he has taught both second and third grades. He is also a champion of flexible classrooms.

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