Katherine Acosta liked being a student. Learning was exhilarating for her.
And when teaching students, “I find it satisfying to see the ‘aha’ moment when a concept is understood and ‘clicks’ for them,” she wrote in an essay for her Teacher of the Year application. “I discovered this when I was tutoring in college, and changed my major to education so that I could be a part of that joyous moment of understanding and enlightenment for other people.”
“Our world very much relies on science and technology, and whenever I read about new discoveries or investigations, it inspires me to prepare the children of the future in those fields."
— KATHERINE ACOSTA, Buddy Taylor Middle School Teacher of the Year
The Buddy Taylor Middle School Teacher of the Year particularly enjoys science — and teaching it.
“Our world very much relies on science and technology, and whenever I read about new discoveries or investigations, it inspires me to prepare the children of the future in those fields," she wrote. "Our world faces some overwhelming environmental and health issues in the future, and I like challenging students to imagine themselves as part of those solutions.”
It’s easier to motivate kids to care about such things when they know that the adult in the classroom cares about them.
“If the student knows that you care about them, then they have more buy-in to the academic process in your class, and it can easily be spread to other classes,” she wrote. “One way that I show students that I care about them outside the classroom is by attending games, plays, talent shows and other extra-curricular activities.”
Another way is to have students track their grades in all of their classes and write out a list of their missing work. Acosta uses that information to help keep them from falling behind, but also to help herself stay aware of what the students are learning in other classes so that she can incorporate concepts from other disciplines into her lessons.
She’s also worked with colleagues to blend language arts and math-based questions into science content.
A point-based reward system helps keep students on track and engaged.
But teaching is about a lot more than academics, she wrote.
“The most precious things in everyone’s life are their connection with people, and if this pandemic has taught us anything, it has shown us how precious those connections are,” Acosta wrote. “We teach the whole child, not just a subject. Making a connection and making it personal to the student makes learning more meaningful.”