To some, love is an international language. To others, music is. To Beth Shields, Adel-DeSoto-Minburn sixth grade social studies teacher, education is an international language.
“I always planned to have a career working with children,” Shields explains. “During my senior year in high school I learned there were teaching opportunities overseas. I knew then I wanted to be a teacher.”
After graduating from Ames High School, where during her senior year she was given credit for working in the local elementary school, Shields attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree. During her junior year of college, she worked in an elementary school part-time in Nottingham, England while attending the University of Nottingham. Since moving to Adel, she has continued earning graduate level credits from Drake University and Iowa State University.
Since then, Shields has been on a whirlwind journey, teaching around the globe: second grade at Amstel Primary School for 2 years in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; a composite sixth and seventh class for two years and fourth and fifth grade for one year each at Crescent Lagoon Primary School in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia; a teacher associate while in Australia for one year; and now A-D-M.
Shields began teaching at A-D-M in 1984 when it was still Adel-De Soto. She started out teaching first grade for two years before becoming a sixth grade teacher at the middle school. Since moving to the middle school, Shields has taught a variety of subjects including math, reading, skills for adolescence, and social studies. She now teaches social studies, her favorite subject.
“I tell my students I love teaching social studies because I get to teach all the subjects: reading, writing, math, science, as well as geography and history. I love sixth graders – Sixth grade is my favorite age of children,” Shield gushes. “The sixth grade students at A-D-M are the best: they are enthusiastic, respectful, eager to learn, funny, and so kind. Their smiles and laughter are so engaging.”
She loves “the unpredictability of each day. Even though I begin each day with a plan, one never knows what is really going to happen that day. Fun happens every day. Middle school is never boring!”
And Shields also explains that she loves being at A-D-M where she has so many opportunities including “encouragement, support, and opportunities to continue to learn about ‘best practices’ in education, curriculum development, and leadership development. The staff continues to model lifelong learning for our students. “I have had opportunities to pursue these endeavors here in Adel, as the district often provides the opportunities here in town. Between AEA consultants, book studies, and staff with amazing expertise and skills, A-D-M has provided many educational experiences for its staff.”
With such positive experiences in both education and A-D-M, Shields has just as high of hopes for the future.
“I hope our students will continue to ask questions, to grow in their love of learning, and aspire to be people of good character. I hope they live their lives with passion. I hope they will always have compassion for their environment and the people of the world. I hope they have the courage to be all that they can be.”
Beth Shields and her husband, Bill, have two children. Emma, their daughter, is a Grand View College graduate and works in Des Moines as a Family Specialist for VNS of IA. She will graduate from Drake University this spring with her Masters Degree in school guidance counseling. Neil, their son, is a graduate of Wartburg College and is currently working at General Dynamics IT in West Des Moines. Bill and Beth are actively involved in their church, Grace Lutheran here in Adel. Travel, camping, and books have been the mainstay of their leisure time.
Editor sidenote: This article is dedicated to Beth’s mother who recently passed away. She was also a dedicated educator.