Calm and collected: Banfield 3rd grade teacher John Schneider is Teacher of the Year

Published 6:40 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

When things start to get a little bit chaotic in the classroom, Banfield Elementary third grader teacher John Schneider is the calm during the storm.

Schneider was recognized Tuesday morning for his patience and poise when he was named Austin Public Schools Teacher of the Year.

Schneider’s voice and presence have remained calm throughout his 22 years at Banfield, and he’s been able to manage his classroom by treating it like his home.

“I want to be the teacher that I want my kids to have,” Schneider said. “I wouldn’t want my kids being yelled at or anything like that. I try to teach them respectfully, like I would want my own kids to be treated.”

Ban Field Elementary third grade teacher John Schneider is surrounded by his students after it was announced that Schneider was Austin Public School’s Teacher of the Year Tuesday morning. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Schneider’s family was present for the award ceremony, which was held in his classroom in front of administration and APS School Board members. He was shocked to learn that he had won and was very gracious in accepting his award in a time that has been very tough for all teachers.

“This means a lot for the staff at Banfield,” Schneider said. “We’re all a close family and we all work hard. It’s been a trying couple of years with COVID and this means a lot for me and the staff here at Banfield.”

Distance learning and COVID-19 regulations have made teaching difficult across the country as it has required teachers to stay prepared, learn about technology and gage where their students are after a year and a half of an abnormal learning environment.

“There’s been a lot of challenges,” Schneider said.

While the job has grown more challenging, Schneider still enjoys watching his students grow and gain confidence in the classroom. He also cherishes the long term impact that teachers can have on their students.

“Seeing the kids make progress and that light bulb comes on and they understand something is the best,” Schneider said. “Sometimes former students will say how they remember me or they’ll write me a letter and it is great knowing that I’ve made an impact on the kids’ lives.”

Schneider is originally from Albert Lea and he began teaching in 1991 after graduation from the University of Northern Iowa. He made stops in Kansas and Washington D.C. before coming to Austin.

He has enjoyed his time teaching in the community that he grew up in.

“It means a lot to be in this area teaching,” Schneider said. “It’s where I grew up and it’s interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t changed. It’s just kind of nice having a home base and knowing the families.”

Schneider is the first APS teacher to be named Teacher of the Year since 2019, when the district recognized all teachers for their work during the pandemic.