Homer elementary school teacher Lyn Maslow and Anchor Point kindergarten teacher Donna Austin share a common thread: Both have a long tenure in their schools — and still enjoy heading into the classroom each day.
Now, both Maslow and Austin are in the running for BP Teachers of the Year.
Maslow teaches fourth grade at West Homer Elementary School and has since 1990. She began working in the Bering Strait School District in 1980.
“The main reason I keep returning is that it’s fun and I love the challenge of working with kids,” Maslow said. “Homer is a pretty incredible place because there are so many nonprofits that support education: The Pratt Museum, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Kachemak Bay Research Reserve – the enrichment feeds my energy level.”
Each year brings different parents, different students and new ideas. Maslow was recognized for going beyond the curriculum by incorporating other projects. For several years, she and elementary students raised potatoes at the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust homestead. They then gave the potatoes to the Homer Food Pantry.
Maslow helps monitor the bay for the invasive European Green Crab specie with her students in the fall and spring. She is also involving her students in a schoolyard habitat and nature trail.
The BP Excellence nomination comes with a $500 grant. Maslow said she would like to use hers for developing a marine biology kit for students.
At Chapman School in Anchor Point, BP Teaching Excellence nominee Donna Austin also racks up an impressive history teaching – in her case for 30 years.
“I just love coming to school every day. The kids, when they are learning, are so excited about it,” Austin said. “It’s nice to watch them grow and learn, and challenge them to an ‘ah ha!’ moment. They grow up before my eyes.”
Austin started in 1983 at Chapman in special services. She spent the next few years teaching in the gifted program. However, kindergarten is where she’s spent the past 19-20 years.
“I’ve spent the most years teaching kindergarten,” Austin said. “They love to come to school so they don’t want to miss a thing. They have such a good attitude at that age.”
Colleagues refer to Austin as “exceptional” and “amazing.” With kindness, patience and commitment, she inspires her students by taking a genuine interest in each one. Her kindergartners participate in community cleanup and school-wide math and science nights. She’s been recognized as a Who’s Who teacher and received the Golden Apple Award from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education.
Nearly 1,400 nominations were received this year for the BP teaching awards. The seven Kenai Peninsula teachers are among more than 30 Alaska educators being honored as 2013 Teachers of Excellence.
Each BP Teacher of Excellence receives a $500 gift card and an award certificate. In addition, the teacher’s school receives a matching $500 grant. One Kenai teacher will be chosen as BP’s Teacher of the Year to be announced at the May 1 reception. That teacher will receive a $1,500 scholarship for continuing education and a bronze sculpture by Alaska artist Mary Regat.
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