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Central Kitsap School District honors teachers

Olympic High School instructor and Teacher of the Year Brandon Brown stands up and teaches technology courses in the same classroom he once sat at a desk in and learned computer drafting.

On a Friday morning, about 20 students tromped into Brown’s computer lab for their digital drafting class.

“All right, listen up, we’re going to start working,” Brown said.

Brown projected a digitally rendered picture of an apple on the screen, and took the class through the steps to create their own using the Autodesk 3ds Max Design program.

When the lesson is finished, Brown walks between desks, talking to students who need extra help.

Junior Brandon Patti said the class has been tough but fun.

“When I first started, my stuff sucked,” Patti said.

Senior Nick Roberts said it’s his second year taking Brown’s class, and he likes his teacher’s style.

“He explains it in a way that makes sense,” Roberts said.

Brown’s workday includes teaching drafting, coaching a robotics team and serving as the school’s technology coordinator.

National Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7 to 11, and in honor of the week, Central Kitsap School District staff say many of their teachers are using technology in innovative ways to keep students of all ages engaged.

At Cottonwood Elementary, fourth-grade literacy teacher Thomasina Rogers is the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce Innovation in Teaching winner for 2011-2012.

“She brings concepts relevant to real life,” said Principal Paul Nash.

On a rainy afternoon, Rogers announced group reading time, and 23 children flopped onto the floor around her.

Rogers switched on the microphone clipped to her collar, which amplified her voice through the classroom, and opened her Nook e-reader and pulled up “The Lost Hero,” a fantasy series.

“Now, can anyone raise their hand and let us know where we were last?” Rogers asked.

After group reading time, she directs the children to find a quiet spot and read whatever they like to themselves.

Rogers has bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and behavioral science, and a master’s degree in education administration.

Rogers sees the fourth grade as a crucial point in encouraging kids to learn to independently read for fun.

“After fourth grade, 80 percent of what they read is expository nonfiction,” Rogers said.

She’s found “book share,” a part of class when students talk to each other about what books they’re reading, is a great way for kids to reinforce and motivate each other.

Rogers also wants to provide her students, about a third of whom are on free or reduced lunch, with experiences they might not get otherwise. She reads to them using her personal Nook so they can be familiar with a new device.

“But I want to make sure they know if they don’t have those things, that’s okay, too,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges she and other teachers face is encouraging students to grow and learn in a time when the national economy is in decline.

“Every teacher is finding creative ways to meet the needs of all learners, be judicious with resources, and not let kids feel bad,” she said.

 

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