Auburn School District announces Teachers of the Year

Linda Campbell, a reading specialist at Pioneer Elementary School, provides innovative ideas to challenge and get the most out of her students. - Courtesy photo
Linda Campbell, a reading specialist at Pioneer Elementary School, provides innovative ideas to challenge and get the most out of her students.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Special to the Auburn Reporter

The Auburn School District Board of Directors will recognize the 2011-12 Teachers of the Year ay 7 p.m. June 11 in the board room at the James P. Fugate Administration Building.

One elementary school teacher, one middle school teacher and two high school teachers were selected at the district level — Linda Campbell, Kanika Watkins-Gatlin, Jackie De Haven and Fred Donaldson.

All four will move on to the regional competition. One teacher from each region will move on to the state competition. The state winner will move on to the 2013 national competition.

Teachers of the Year

Linda Campbell

Pioneer Elementary, TOSA/reading specialist

Campbell's leadership and innovation produce academic gains for her students and professional growth among her colleagues.

Campbell develops targeted math instruction for students of all ability levels and across grade levels at Pioneer. She recently produced and implemented a professional development program to guide teachers in enhancing students' math skills. She collaborated with fellow teachers to prepare each lesson in a math unit and even provided individual meeting demonstrations for teachers who were having difficulty adapting the lessons to their student needs.

Additionally, Campbell developed a mock assessment and data collection model for district use.

Outside of the school day, Campbell provides extended learning opportunities for students before and after school. She also participates on the Auburn Teacher Leadership Academy and the District's Common Core State Standards Transition Committee.

Campbell is passionate about motivating her students and delivering excellent instruction.

"I teach with purpose," she said. "I want to do whatever I can to help kids succeed. I love my work."

Campbell recently transitioned back into public education after teaching AP Social Studies and elementary education in Seattle Christian Schools for more than 10 years. She has pursued extensive professional development opportunities including earning endorsements in English Language Arts 4-12 and Humanities Mid Level.

"I've taught a range of grade levels and content areas, but there is always more to learn," she said. "I am educating myself to grow and learn alongside our students."

Campbell's passion for teaching and learning is contagious.

"Ms. Campbell is dedicated to each student's advancement and well being ... while we are seeing improvement on state assessments, we also are witnessing an increased desire to learn and approach math problem solving by our students," said Principal Debra Gary. "Throughout the school students talk about the strategies they are using and how it helps them to solve math problems. Teachers also have concrete evidence that they can help struggling students reach math benchmarks. This has been a tremendous confidence boost for students and staff."

Kanika Watkins-Gatlin

Cascade Middle School, language arts teacher

Watkins-Gatlin's mission is to reach all students that enter her classroom, whether they are advanced, at grade level or struggling. She believes all students can learn.

She exposes students to a variety of literacy strategies and activities in order to engage all student learners.

"The work and conversation in Ms. Watkins-Gatlin's classroom is personally engaging and meaningful," said Cascade Principal Isaiah Johnson. "Students are actively thinking, analyzing, exploring and discussing topics in the classroom."

One of Watkins-Gatlin's most impressive traits is her ability to create a positive classroom environment. Her facilitative approach to learning increases students' comprehension and vocabulary skills, promotes student depth of understanding, and challenges students to explore the written word deeper.

Watkins-Gatlin's comes from a family with generations of educators.

"My mother, father, aunts and grandmother are all teachers and administrators, and I feel their words of wisdom in me, guiding my path," she said. "It sounds cliché, but I never imagined that I would ever be recognized for something that I love to do and take great pride in."

Last year Watkins-Gatlin was a graduate of the Auburn Teacher Leadership Academy. She also is Cascade's language arts content team leader and a participant on the Washington State Leadership Academy. She organizes Cascade's PRIDE awards, which recognize students who model perseverance, respect, integrity, discipline and excellence.

"Being a teacher is one of the most intrinsically rewarding jobs, and that alone is a true reason why those who teach can, do and will remain in this profession," she said.

Jackie De Haven

Auburn Riverside High School, ELL teacher

De Haven is committed to serving the needs of students who speak English as their second language.

She encourages collaboration in the classroom to maximize learning. Students set goals, discuss concepts and reflect on their work together. De Haven reserves time for one-on-one mentoring and instruction, and uses assessment data to drive daily instruction.

De Haven's primary responsibility is to ensure each student receives the necessary support and instruction to acquire English language skills so they can be successful in their mainstream classes. Students are instructed in reading, writing, oral and acquisition skills.

"Teaching our students English allows them access to school culture and learning," she said.

Last school year De Haven helped 35 percent of her ELL students transition out of the program — one of the highest exit rates in the district. De Haven motivates her students by combining textbook assignments with interactive classroom activities such as word art, oral presentations, sing-a-longs and photo bingo.

De Haven is a bilingual Spanish speaker. At age 13, she moved with her family to Mexico City from a rural Ohio farm and had to learn another language quickly. De Haven learned from immersion just like her students.

"I can easily relate to my students who emigrate from other countries and are introduced to a new language and culture," De Haven said.

De Haven teams with other language arts teachers to reflect on their teaching practices, discuss best practices, and examine research and literature to expand their own knowledge.

De Haven is the district's Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) coach at the secondary level and worked as an instructional coach for the Department of Student Learning before accepting the teaching position at Auburn Riverside.

"All students can learn," she said. "And I believe teachers make the difference."

Fred Donaldson

Auburn School District, automotive technology teacher

Donaldson prepares students for graduation and careers in the automotive industry.

He is the popular auto shop and small gas engines teacher for all four high schools in the Auburn School District. He identifies the learning needs of each individual student and tailors instruction to fit their learning needs. Donaldson relates to students and possesses instructional flexibility, developing lessons and running the shop to match the abilities of his students.

As a Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructor, Donaldson takes to heart the duty to prepare his students for the real world of work. He runs his auto shop like a small business, and expects his students to work and behave in a professional manner. Many of Donaldson's graduates populate local auto dealerships and auto mechanic businesses, making a positive impact in the business community.

"I take my job seriously ... to prepare students for a successful future beyond high school," he said.

Donaldson leads the district's advisory board for automotive education, which is comprised of master mechanics and experts in the local automotive industry. He is a Nationally Certified Master Trainer by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and evaluates automotive programs on high school and college campuses across the nation. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) frequently requests Mr. Donaldson to teach other professionals in his field.

The school district automotive program was the second in Washington State to earn Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) NATEF master certification. This certification indicates students receive industry-level training. The program is also an Auto YES training program, which is a partnership between the school program and local dealerships and independents to provide students with on-the-job training.

Donaldson also secures automobiles, tools, small gas engines and cash through various grant programs. Recently, the automotive technology program was awarded 24 new Kohler engines for the small gas engine classes. These items are excellent, real-world training aids for students.

"I'm committed to provide students multiple pathways to graduation," Donaldson said. "We are here to see all students be successful."

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