During a student assembly on Wednesday, June 10, Selkirk Superintendent Nancy Lotze announced that the Selkirk Board of Directors selected middle school and high school science teacher, Kathy Johnson, as the 2015 Educator of the Year. Johnson just finished her seventh year of teaching at Selkirk.
Since 1999, each year the school board solicits nominations for the award from parents, students, and community members. A perpetual plaque housed in the high school trophy case contains a list of all past winners.
Principal Larry Reed, who retired from the role this year, stated that, “Kathy Johnson is a dedicated and skilled member of the Selkirk faculty. She is frequently the first teacher to arrive at school each morning and comes in virtually every weekend. She brings enthusiasm, energy, and humor to her classroom on a daily basis.” This past school year, Johnson passed her National Board Certification for science on the first attempt. In addition to a comprehensive test, this rigorous and demanding process also requires applicants to submit work samples, videos, and other evidence to demonstrate competency and quality teaching, which are scored against national standards.
In addition to teaching science in grades 6-9, Johnson also coaches both fall and winter cheerleading as well as middle school girls’ softball in the spring. This year, the cheerleaders, under Johnson's guidance, traveled to Portland, Oregon to perform during the NBA Trailblazers game, conducted fundraising to support cancer patients, and won the state academic championship in March for Selkirk’s classification.
Reed also stated that, in addition, Johnson volunteers to assist in other aspects of school life including running the electronic reader board at the high school, making signs for graduation, playing music for assemblies, and teaming with other teachers to do whatever is necessary to make the classroom or the school atmosphere a positive experience for students.
Johnson received nominations from a number of staff and students. According to Lotze, staff members valued Johnson’s investment in the success of not only the science program, but also her ability to reach students through a variety of teaching strategies. Over the past seven years, Lotze noted, that middle school students often describe Johnson as their favorite teacher.
At the presentation, Lotze encouraged students to guess this year’s recipient by giving a list of clues. She stated that this year’s nominee works very hard to create an interesting and engaging classroom so that students will learn to be curious about the world around them. Lotze shared students nominated this year’s recipient because the teacher creates a classroom culture where students feel like they always get the help they need. The description went on to include that while students spend all day in school and then often follow with sports, finishing off their night with homework, this teacher is right there with them, arriving early, staying late to coach, and then staying even later to plan and prepare.
Prior to presenting the plaque and announcing Johnson’s name, Lotze asked students in grades 6-12 to raise their hands if they were in middle school or attended middle school at Selkirk. She noted that each of them had the opportunity to experience “this gifted and talented educator with a quirky sense of humor and a caring heart”. When Johnson’s name was finally announced, students and staff responded with a loud cheer and a spontaneous standing ovation.