Another five teachers were recognized this year for outstanding service in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.
Darilynn Caston, kindergarten teacher at Redoubt Elementary School James Knoebel, special education teacher at Soldotna High School, Nickole Lyon, special education preschool teacher at Seward Elementary, Patricia Truesdell, teacher at Hope School, were named a 2016 BP Teacher of Excellence along with Sharon Hopkins, first grade teacher at Tustumena Elementary, of who took teacher of the year during the awards ceremony Wednesday, May 4, held at the Alaska Christian College. Sean Dusek, school district superintendent, said he was pleased to announce his congratulations to the candidates on April Fools Day at their individual schools, which was also the first time each found out they were to be recognized.
“They are all known as hard workers who are focused on the individual child,” said Sean Dusek, school district superintendent. “They show this focus through caring, compassion and patience. They are well known throughout the district as master teachers who make a positive difference for kids.”
Dusek said he believed the nominations this year were well deserved. At the awards presentation, he noted the group was particularly humble and equally appreciative of being chosen, and Hopkins, a 23-year school district employee, was no exception.
“The irony of these kinds of awards is they are often given to people who do not look for, or even wish to be recognized,” said Doug Hayman, principal at Tustumena Elementary. “Sharon (Hopkins) is that kind of person. She does all the things she does because they are the right thing to do.”
Hayman said, as an educator she is constantly going above and beyond what is required of her. He said she “meets the needs of every child, individually and collectively,” and works with parents and supports her fellow staff members.
“She is selfless,” Hayman said. “She is also a comedian, and organizer. If something needs done, Sharon sees to it that it gets done whether she does it herself or relies on one of the positive relationships she has formed.”
At the awards ceremony, Dusek mentioned a comment by Hayman who said every student leaves Hopkins’ classroom as a reader, regardless of their skill level when they entered.
“I knew she was an extremely hard worker who never asked for recognition and makes sure that all of her students are loved in the classroom,” Dusek said. “Positive student relationships are her priority.”
Hopkins employs traditional and creative ways to support her students, Hayman said.
“Sharon uses proven methods relentlessly, but if a child is not reaching the goals she has set, there is no box,” Hayman said.
Dusek said BP’s annual process of identifying the school district’s top teachers is a positive process for the community.
“Public education and teachers in general tend to get judged on the 5 percent of negative issues that occur nationwide,” Dusek said. “This event allows everyone to celebrate what is happening 95 percent of the time in public education. It allows people to see what is happening in schools they may not know much about and helps with the understanding that there is really much more great instruction happening than what may be perceived by the general public.”
Each year a committee chooses the final group from a list of nominees, for which there were more than 1,200 statewide this year, said Stan Bennion, vice-president of Human Resources for BP Alaska at the ceremony. More than 650 educators have been recognized in the 21 years BP has handed out the accolades.
“Our pool of candidates for this award will remain very deep, which will continue to make the selection committee work really hard to recognize great teachers every year,” Dusek said. I know so many past recipients who have not stopped doing what they do so well because of the award.”
Bennion said BP would continue to honor teachers of excellence regardless current fiscal strain. Alaska is the only state the program operates in.
“In our industry we rely heavily on the quality educated applicants that are coming up through the system, we need those that can think, can be creative, and can communicate effectively,” Bennion said. “Even with today’s oil prices, which are challenging, we still understand that this is important this is something we want to keep going and we will recognize and we will continue to so.”
Reach Kelly Sullivan at email@example.com.