Upton Teacher is Light for Future Generations
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
This is the fourth article in a feature on the Women Business Leaders of Upton
Teachers serve multiple roles in communities, often going well beyond their primary roles offering classroom instruction. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges for teachers looking for methods to reach their students. One teacher at Upton High School, Karla Ludemann, gives her time and effort seeking fresh approaches to prepare her students for life beyond high school.
“The new generation of citizens requires not just strong academic skills, but also curiosity, imagination, empathy, entrepreneurship, resilience, confidence and determination to create and manage their careers in new ways,” she said. “In my role, I must be a light to guide our youth for future generations.”
Ludemann has been educating young people for 25 years in Upton schools. She possesses a B.S. degree in Physical and Business Education and a M.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction Technology, both from Black Hills State University. Her roles include teaching Computer Science and Business at Upton High School, as well as serving as the Robotics Club coach, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) advisor and Yearbook advisor. She has received a lengthy list of awards, including the Wyoming Digital Learning Innovations Award for Educational Leader, Wyoming Business Education Association 2018 Teacher of the Year, FBLA 2016 Advisor of the Year and Weston County School District #7 2015 Teacher of the Year.
Teaching is less a vocation than a lifestyle for Ludemann. She believes it is her responsibility to develop technical and soft skills, along with providing meaningful work experience for her students. And she purposely develops her lesson plans to include those components.
“My motto is, “You are not living if you are not giving,” she said. “My purpose is to ensure that our young people are prepared for the world of tomorrow, because today’s students will be employed in jobs that don’t yet exist.”
Beyond her course work, Ludemann is dedicated to the various activities she leads. FBLA programs such as Adopt-a-Highway Trash Pickup, Veterans Appreciation, Christmas for Kids, leadership conferences and academic competitions instill real-world business necessities of leadership development, parliamentary procedure, public speaking and fundraising. Students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team in the Robotics Club. The School-to-Work program relies on partnerships with local businesses to help students gain skills that connect them to growing employment opportunities. And the Yearbook Club develops creativity, organizational skills and teamwork.
The COVID-19 pandemic required a necessary shift to remote learning. Ludemann and fellow teachers were confronted with a huge challenge to replace in-person curriculum with a whole package of resources for all students to access outside of school, such as YouTube and other digital media. She has developed opportunities for students to collaborate to develop business idea proposals or participate in simulation games via Zoom conferencing so they can spend time with their friends despite social distancing.
“With remote learning, students say they miss collaboration and working with partners, so I have tried to develop activities to meet those needs,” Ludemann said. “These elements make me a better teacher in many ways and I have gained a new appreciation for the simple ability to go in to work and be with my students and colleagues.”
Upton is a Family Community
One aspect to Ludemann’s inspiration for service is the sense of family togetherness and support with no biological relation throughout the Upton community.
“Just simply knowing that someone is there for you in a moment of need, whether it be to lend a helping hand or reminding you of the greatness inside you is what defines Upton,” she said. “Past generations that created Upton have succeeded in making future generations of affluent adults, with their greatness not measured by money or fame, but by the continued love, support and commitment that they exemplify in their own communities.”
Upton leaders and businesses actively offer Ludemann’s students opportunities to learn through real-life experiences. Students have helped with the Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet and Festival of Tables. Students have encouraged the community to participate in the U.S. Census or with fundraisers during Upton Fun Days and the Rose Classic Car Show. The Upton Economic Development Board has provided funding for the school’s Robotics Club and local businesses have partnered with students on state FBLA projects.
The world high school students are coming into is changing quickly. Ludemann knows she and others in education must change their methodology to better prepare young people for their lives. Her students provide the optimism she needs to continue focusing her efforts.
“While Upton has very supportive parents and an administration which provided training and support for me to further develop my skills to effectively integrate new techniques, it really is about amazing kids,” she said. “Upton has courteous and energetic kids that have made it all possible.”
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