Gubser Elementary School teacher David Baumer, seen here working with a group of students in October 2012, was honored with a Crystal Apple last month. (File)

Gubser Elementary School teacher David Baumer, seen here working with a group of students in October 2012, was honored with a Crystal Apple last month. (File)

Of the Keizertimes

Emma Snyder didn’t mince words when it came to nominating Guber Elementary School’s David Baumer for the Crystal Apple.

“He’s a superhero,” Snyder, now an eighth grader at Whiteaker Middle School, wrote in a nominating letter. “He’s faster than a speeding pencil, more powerful than an if/then statement, and able to teach math to the most stubborn student.”

Baumer is in his eighth year at Gubser where he has fan clubs among students and faculty. Members of both groups wrote letters nominating him for the award presented by the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation and honoring excellence in education.

While Baumer teaches his fifth graders most of the material they’ll encounter during the year, his specialty is math and making it relevant to his students’ lives.

“David is committed to the annual local food drive that provides food baskets for families in the community. While his class enjoys the benefits of giving back, they are also collecting data for the the food drive, offering a real world scenario for students to work with numbers as they compete to bring in the most food,” wrote Baumer’s fellow teachers Melissa Ball, Carol Proudfit and David Whetzel in a nominating letter.

Baumer even turns the Gator lunchroom into a space of learning. He hosts a game show quizzing students on fifth grade common core standards. Experimentation with learning techniques is just one way he challenges himself day-in and day-out.

“I am constantly trying to be a better teacher and challenge myself. I feel there is always room to grow as a teacher, whether through classes, trying new techniques, new engagement strategies, projects, etc,” Baumer said.

While not every student at Gubser will end up in his classroom, Baumer’s approach is that every student walking through the front door is “his” student. It’s led him to open his door to any student, parent or colleague who wants extra help with math concepts.

“When I try to sum up David in one word, the most prominent word is generous. He is generous in everything he does. Teacher, mentor, colleague (and) friend (are) all words that describe David Baumer, but it is his generosity and willingness to put others before himself that define who he is as a person,” wrote teacher Marissa Hein in a nominating letter.

Baumer tries to maintain a constant presence in his students’ lives and attends as many after school events as he can, even after the students move on to Whiteaker Middle School.

“I think that you have ‘gotten it right’ when your students want to work hard for you, and more importantly, for themselves,” Baumer said. “We also truly appreciate when we hear from former students who have gone on to success in middle school, high school, college, and beyond. It is nice to know that we get to play a small part in the lives of these students on their way up.”

Like all good superheroes, Baumer is something else for the people and students that surround him, Snyder wrote: an inspiration.

“When he teaches, kids learn. He protects his students so that they feel safe at school and in his classroom. He fights for children that other people might give up on,” she wrote. “Mr. Baumer is everything a person should be, and everything a person should want to be. He truly is a superhero.”