Graduates across the Kenai Peninsula have been celebrating the hard work they’ve put into their classes, and May 10, BP honored the educators who make those classes possible, including five teachers from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD).
A ceremony was held to honor the Peninsula’s BP Teachers of Excellence at the Alaska Christian College. Selected were: Jennifer Booz (Homer Middle School), Will Chervenak (Soldotna Prep School), Carlyn Nichols (Seward Middle School), Staci Wells (Redoubt Elementary), and Robanne Stading (Nikolaevsk School).
BP Associate Director, Government &Public Affairs, External Affairs Tara Stevens was still in high school when the BP Teachers of Excellence program began 23 years ago and told the Dispatch why the program was started.
“An employee wanted to find a way to recognize all of the amazing teachers across Alaska and there wasn’t really a program like that, so they looked at the idea and thought there was an opportunity for BP as a business to step aside from business and put a focus on education,” explained Stevens. “So began the Teachers of Excellence program.”
Each year winners are chosen from every region of the state, from Ketchikan to Utqiaġvik. Each Teacher of Excellence receives a $500 gift card for themselves and a $500 educational grant for their school. In each region, one teacher is selected as BP Teacher of the Year, receiving an additional $1,000 grant for continuing education.
At the ceremony a surprised Robanne Stading of Nikolaevsk School was chosen as the Kenai Peninsula’s 2018 BP Teacher of the Year.
“It was pretty humbling and exciting all at the same time. To be selected as ‘The Teacher of the Year’ from among the five amazing Teachers of Excellence here tonight is a huge nod from my colleagues. As a Special Ed teacher, every period is different, every year is different,” explained Stading in an interview. “I’m helping little kids learn math, I’m helping students with autism be part of the school, and I’m co-teaching Language Arts. This year, I have a library crew that’s helping renovate the library through project-based (learning).”
According to Stading her core mission is to meet students where they’re at and make learning achievable.
“I put it on a twist that maybe here’s a better way to learn this or here’s the hands-on way of doing this, here’s a modification that’s going to get you on that stage at graduation just like your peers, and in the end we’re all going to learn it, we’re all going to graduate,” said Stading holding back tears.
Over the last 23 years the BP program has honored more than 750 teachers across Alaska. Stading called the award an honor for her community and her school.
“When a student’s standing on that stage receiving their diploma who didn’t expect to get there and says, ‘Thank you Mrs. Stading,’ it’s icing on the cake of their whole education and my day-to-day job,” she said. “I’m teaching because I want students to learn, no matter where they have come from, no matter where they’re going, and so in that sense it’s absolutely priceless.”