Washington's Teacher of the Year teaches English as second language, is a martial arts experton September 24, 2013 @ 7:47 am (Updated: 8:30 am - 9/24/13 )
Katie Brown, 35, of Shukson Middle School in Bellingham works with about 70 kids a year who don't speak English as their primary language, and she said when they finally "get it," that's when she knows she's making a difference.
She recounted a story of two kids that came to her as 6th graders with no English skills at all. "By the time they reached 8th grade, not even the end of 8th grade, they exited the ELL (English Language Learners) program, level four language proficiency, which means there really isn't a difference between them and their English-speaking peers." Brown said that happens all the time and makes her job so rewarding.
Brown also coaches other teachers on how to handle these ELL students so they can succeed in other subjects.
But is there one thing that she loves the most about her job?
"It's absolutely a team effort," she said. "I really feel like I'm a coach of this fantastic team, and we get to go out there every day and cheer each other on and have fun. It's just a fun job. I wish more people could come into the classroom and experience that."
Brown also co-owns a martial arts gym, teaches martial arts and competes. She just won a Silver Medal in her weight class in an international competition in China. "It's also another huge part of my life that I think drives and motivates a lot of what I do and gives me the energy to do what I do," she said.
She uses her martial arts to help her in the classroom. "Kung Fu and martial arts, I mean the essence of it is teaching character, and perseverance, and dedication, and learning something over time, and commitment, and obviously all of those things are the same traits we are trying to build in our students in the classroom too."
Teacher of the Year is a great title. She's now in the running for National Teacher of the Year, but what other cool stuff does she get for the recognition?
"I get to go to Safeco Field and a Mariners game and throw the first pitch," Brown said. "I get to go to the Governor's Mansion. I get to go to Washington D.C. and shake President Obama's hand. I get to go to Space Camp, which I've always wanted to do since I was two years old," Brown said. "Who doesn't want to do that?"
The National Teacher of the Year will be announced next year at the White House.
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