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Laura Hamilton – Ensign Elementary

Laura teaches a combined 5th/6th grade class at Ensign Elementary in the Salt Lake City School District. Over the past 14 years, all 5 of my children have had Laura for their 5th and 6th grade years–(Anna actually had her for 4th grade as well), and have enjoyed her class. They were/are happy to go to school, glad they had her for a second year, and were/will be sad to leave her class when it was/is time to move on.

Laura inspired an enthusiasm for learning in my children that has stayed with them in their lives. She taught them how to study, taught them to love reading, and encouraged them to pursue their interests. She has taken an interest in their lives far beyond the classroom and has been a friend as well as teacher for each of them.

I am glad that each of my 5 children has had the opportunity to learn from Laura Hamilton, and I am glad for her friendship as well.

Twila Hansen
Mother, classroom volunteer and
carpool driver 1995-2009

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My fifth and sixth grade years remain the most memorable of my educational career. These enjoyable memories are due mostly to Ms. Hamilton’s ability to make learning exciting and engaging. In her class the development of skills such as math and writing did not feel like chores that needed to be survived but rather they became part of a large game where I pushed myself to learn the needed skills because it was fun. I remember looking forward to going to school each day anticipating the stories, games, bright colors, and good feelings that were consistently part of Ms. Hamilton’s class room. In her class we weren’t competing for a grade but rather learning to become independent thinkers, self-motivators, and to be contributive members of society. It was through working on projects in Ms. Hamilton’s class, projects where we were allowed to choose the subject we wanted to explore and report on, where I discovered my interest in the mechanics and physics behind aviation which led me to pursue a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.

Michael Hansen, 1995-1997

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The day I walked into my 4th grade classroom to find the walls covered with floor-to-ceiling blades of butcher paper grass, I knew I had an extraordinary teacher. That month we studied the world from the perspective of very small things, ending with oral reports about our favorite insects–complete with our own board games to be tested by the class. During the same year we also studied Vikings and American colonization – but the thing about learning with “Mrs. H” was that she brought a contagious energy and creativity to the subject at hand, until we weren’t just studying: we WERE the Vikings or the colonists, or the bugs.

Laura Hamilton’s teaching career has left in its wake students curious about science, interested in novels, aware of several forms of poetry and styles of art, and willing to try new things. Her sense of humor-found in daily conversations and in the annual classroom “Mad Gab” story (which she wrote about her students and filled in with our adjectives) – helped to transform her classroom into a place you wanted to be…and return to.

A teacher like Ms. Hamilton is rare in a child’s education, and after so many years of dedicated and enthusiastic service to the young minds of our community, she deserves all our appreciation and thanks.

Anna M. Bowen
Student from 1995-1998

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First, you should know about PRP’s. This cursed/blessed acronym stands for Personal Research Project, a fifteen minute oral presentation which requires a journal of the ten hours you spent studying your subject.

After finishing five of these projects in Miss H’s class, I was amazed to find that my seventh grade class- mates could not answer many questions on our first English oral reports. Learning the importance and methods of research, it baffled my mind that students would feel comfortable presenting something they knew next to nothing about. To this day, I have trouble presenting an under-researched project.

Miss H made learning fun. Whether we were using our desk formation to recreate Pangea and it’s eventual separation, creating a book of poetry complete with illustrations, working to complete an entire page of multiplication facts in under a minute, trying to be the fastest one in the class at answering flash cards in “Around the World” or drawing the scene she just finished reading aloud, learning was fun. History was interesting, math exciting, and creativity was praised. Miss H trusted us to respect others, taught us to motivate ourselves, and believed we would go far.

Rachel Hansen
Student 1999-2001

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Ms. Hamilton was always friendly, helpful, and encouraging. She taught well enough that we could learn what we needed to, and she was always able to keep her class under control. Ms. H made a connection with us, and we could enjoy being in her class.

Daniel Hansen
Student 2001-2003

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Ms. H is my teacher now, and I think she’s wonderful! In class we get really busy, but we still manage to have fun.
Between math, reading, writing, poetry, history, and much, much more we still get occasional games like “gertiball”, “evilscrewty” and “around the world”. A few times a year we do a P.R.P. (Personal Research Project), which we can choose any topic we want to research. For example, I chose whales, rocks, and swords for a few of mine.
Last year we researched Egypt, and this year we are doing Vikings. Some of my favorite times in class are when she brings her dog, Poco, to class, Halloween and especially, Read-a-loud! I love read-a-loud because she gets into the book, doing the voices and making you want her to read forever! (I didn’t know how to phrase it any better).
Another wonderful fun thing she does is that when anyone has a birthday, she makes up an age that that person is turning and tells us about all the things he/she supposedly does. We do have homework, reading a page of writing and math homework everyday, and a news article once a week is required homework, plus the additional P.R.P. every so often. Oh!-and in the entire school, our class is ALWAYS the best behaved–ALL because of Ms. H!

Ruth Hansen
2007-2009
Grade 6