Teachers have many options once they receive their degree or certification. They can choose elementary, middle or high school, or a specific subject in which to practice. New teachers, however, don’t always get to pick exactly what they want right off the bat. March teacher of the Month Erica Griswold knew she wanted to work with younger children, graduating with a degree in K-8 elementary education with a special education endorsement. But it was a call from the principal at Vaughn Elementary that would help her to find just the right students...


Henderson Bay Big Picture High School is one of only a few dozen like it across the country. The school is built around strong staff/student relationships where students are empowered to learn while pursuing their interests. Students get hands-on learning in professional environments alongside a mentor as they explore their interests. They develop an individual learning plan where they are supported in pursuing their interests while also taking a mix of academic and exploratory classes. One of those mentors is Greg Brashear, who has come to lo...

Dawn Barnes knows firsthand that not all students learn at the same pace. December’s teacher of the month is the Title I and Learning Assistance Program (LAP) reading specialist at Minter Creek Elementary. Title I is federally funded while LAP is a state-funded program established by the Washington State Legislature in 1979. The object of both programs is to accelerate the achievement of students performing below grade level by providing supplemental academic support.

Dawn’s students visit “the barn,” her name for the special learning space, fou...

While the English language is taught in all schools and is by far the most commonly used language across the country, many are surprised to learn that the U.S. actually has no official language. Many citizens speak two or more languages including Spanish, French, Italian, Thai, Mandarin and German. In fact, recent studies have shown there are about 350 different languages spoken in this country, and having everyone understand one another is one of the great passions for October’s Teacher of the Month.

Mr. John Huffstetler is only in his second y...

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eptember’s teacher of the month has 20 years’ experience and in those 20 years has felt just about every emotion one can think of. “A teacher’s day is never dull. Some experiences are funny, some are scary, some are infuriating and some will bring you to tears,” says Brad Collins. Thankfully for Collins, a lifelong passion for being an educator brings more joyous days than negative ones.

Collins has been at Peninsula High School the past nine years teaching various science courses to grades ninth through 12th. These included chemistry, AP and s...

For Melissa Tolman, turning negative feelings on a particular subject into positive ones is something that brings her great joy. Tolman recently wrapped up her 13th year as an educator with the last four as a fifth grade teacher at Purdy Elementary, where she handles multiple subjects like science, social studies and writing. One of the more challenging subjects for many of her students is math. Problems become a little tougher to solve and some kids reach the point of complete frustration, but Tolman doesn’t let them give up.

“I love helping th...

There’s an old saying that goes, ‘Those who cannot do teach.” However, Heather Jones has a different theory on her profession. “I would argue that those who teach actually get to do it all and all in the company of incredibly enthusiastic 10-year-old people,” she said.

Heather is wrapping up her 15th year in the profession and is currently a fourth grade teacher at Evergreen Elementary School. She enlightens her students in core studies like math, science and social studies while also mixing in language and the visual arts. Like many young peopl...

Elementary-aged school children have a lot of energy to burn off, and it’s up to Dave Rucci to help them accomplish that. For 21 years, Rucci has helped kids from Kindergarten through fifth grade experience the joys of physical activity, exploring new sports and games, and learning how to compete and work as a team. “The thing I find most rewarding is the pure joy and excitement children at this age have in regards to coming to school and to then use that same joy and excitement in my teaching,” explained Rucci.

Energy is what kids bring every d...

Math is a subject that gets progressively more challenging as you continue to advance your knowledge of the subject. For some, the way mathematics work comes easy, but for others it’s a struggle to reach for the moment where all the information finally clicks and the problem is solved. That is the moment that our April Teacher of the Month strives for.

Paula Grande teaches math classes to seventh and eighth grade students at Key Peninsula Middle School and has been teaching for more than 20 years. Being a math teacher takes patience, and Paula s...

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