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, four days a week to focus on reading skills. She brings a variety of learning lessons and techniques to boost young children’s confidence and is most happy when she sees the enjoyment her lessons bring to her students.
“The best learning is that which engages students, helps them grow academically and creates positive memories about learning,” said Dawn. “I know the next time they come to work and learn with me and my team, they’ll be excited because of the memories they have created prior.”
Dawn has been teaching in the district for 14 years and has been influential in the lives of hundreds of students. She adds that she especially enjoys getting to know the families behind her students.
“Knowing that, through the years, you can build a bond with a family that leads to trust is so valuable. To put it simply, I have become a person that this family can rely on and count on to put the best interest of their children first,” she said.
As her lessons continue to get more challenging for students, Dawn always tries to keep things fun and positive. Kindergarteners especially don’t want to stop and want to keep learning through play. While the lessons vary, one constant Dawn always preaches is for her students to give it their all, and she will even bring her own personal trials and triumphs into the classroom.
“I love to bake and decorate cakes, cupcakes, cookies and cake pops. I share some of my successes and failures with my students but always give the precedent that I tried my best,” said Dawn.
Getting struggling readers up to speed with their classmates is never an easy task, but Dawn takes the challenge head on by making sure kids are having fun while learning, trying their very best and keeping parents informed and involved in the progress.
“It takes a team to support the magic that is learning, and having the support of families is crucial,” said Dawn.