Putting relationships first: Rockcreek teacher Angela Ginder honored with Folger Award

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Rockcreek sixth grade teacher Angie Ginder is the recipient of the 2023 Edna V. Folger Outstanding Teacher Award. She is pictured in her classroom at Rockcreek Elementary School in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

Few people can say that they want to stay in school forever — but for Angela Ginder, a sixth grade teacher at Rockcreek Elementary, that’s exactly what she set her heart on.

“I always loved school, and after having the positive influence of my own teachers when I was going through BCSC, I realized that I never wanted to leave school,” she said.

Several of these teachers, including Candace Taff Carr, Joseph Dutton, Jack Young and Tammie LeClerc, went on to win the Edna V. Folger Outstanding Teacher Award — and now, after nearly 25 years of teaching, Ginder is joining their ranks.

The Folger Award, which is sponsored by SIHO, the Community Education Coalition and the IUPUC Center for Teaching and Learning, was designed to “raise awareness about the immeasurable influence teachers have on their students and to recognize the image of teachers as important community role models.”

IUPUC’s award announcement described Ginder as “a dedicated, talented educator who works tirelessly to support her students, colleagues, her school, and her family.”

“It’s very humbling,” she said. “And there’s so many amazing educators in BCSC, that it almost feels, it’s very surreal that my name will be added to that list of, like I said, some of my former teachers. But it’s a huge honor, and I’m completely and totally thankful for my family and my administrators and all the teachers that kind of helped me get to where I am today.”

Ginder has spent her entire teaching career at Rockcreek, where she is now in her 24th year. She described getting hired as probably “the greatest stroke of luck I’ve ever had in my life.”

After graduating from college in May, her first and only interview was at Rockcreek in June. She was offered the job that same day.

Since then, she has taught fourth, fifth and sixth grade at her “dream school.”

“All in the same classroom,” said Ginder. “I walked into this room in 1999 and never left.”

IUPUC’s award announcement commended Ginder for using “innovative instructional approaches,” creating a positive classroom atmosphere, showing care for each student and using data and research to further education.

Ginder shapes “well-rounded, highly motivated learners” and fosters relationships that “endure beyond any one school year,” the announcement said. Former students often invite her to extracurricular activities including dance competitions, athletic events and graduation celebrations.

“For nearly 25 years, Ginder has used relatable experiences, humor, or any other tactic to keep students and colleagues excited to be at school,” IUPUC officials stated. “She puts relationships first and everything else is second.”

When asked what’s the best part of being a teacher, Ginder emphasized the joy of building relationships and being another safe adult that kids can count on.

“Just getting to hang out with awesome kids all day, every day, as my job is pretty amazing,” she said.

She noted that being a sixth grade teacher presents a “unique difficulty” in that once the year is over, her students will go on to middle school, and there’s no guarantee she’ll see them again.

“Our time is limited,” she said. “And so I do think that’s why building those relationships is so important, because it is my absolute favorite thing to hear from my former students. I get messages from them on itslearning, I get graduation invitations, invitations to sporting events, and that is just — it goes along with the best part of teaching is building those relationships, because other than that, I may never see them again.”