For the first time in Laura Freeman’s 16-year teaching career, she is teaching just one subject — math.


KTVA 11’s Teacher of the Week was instrumental in changing the fifth and sixth grade class structure, at Baxter Elementary School, to a middle school model. This year, the school’s oldest students have a different teacher for math, english, social studies and science.


“I kind of went to my principal and I said, ‘I really, really want to do this,'” said Freeman.


Other teachers were hesitant at first, but Freeman says they eventually warmed up to the idea.


“It’s really nice that we can really focus our energy and time on that one subject, instead of seven different subjects,” explained Freeman.


The students are growing fond of it as well.


“I think they love it. I really do. It makes them feel like they’re actually in a middle school without having the middle school setting. We’re getting them prepared for what’s going to happen next year,” said Freeman.


Spearheading the middle school model and imparting her knowledge of math isn’t the only way she is preparing her students for the future. Freeman says the true secret to her success has been building strong connections with her students.


“She does a lot of amazing things for us,” explained fifth-grader Cooper Zadra. “She’s understanding and cares a lot about us.”


Freeman hopes that by gaining their trust and building strong relationships with her students, that she can help set them up for success.


“I want them to have a love of learning and not give up when things get difficult. Always to persevere and keep trying and know that the family here at Baxter will always be here and help them out,” said Freeman.


Freeman is a lifelong Alaskan, born and raised in Eagle River.


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