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Karen Fruits CGHS

2016-17 Teacher of the Year
Karen Fruits

Subject and Grade Level: Mathematics, High School
Years of Experience: 35


Excerpt from Teacher of the Year application

To me, teaching is important because:

Teaching is important to me because it allows me an opportunity to learn about my students as individuals and help them to continue to grow academically and personally.  I get a chance to listen to my students concerns and encourage them to make good decisions.  I want my students to know that I care about them as a person first and as an academic student second.  Teachers have a unique chance to be such a strong role model for their students.

Through teaching, particularly when applying creative, real-world applications, we can help students enjoy learning.  Learning for me has always been something enjoyable rather than a task and I want to ensure I channel that on to students.  Reflecting back, one of the biggest compliments I enjoy getting from a student is to hear them say “class went by fast today”.  It seems like such a simple statement; however, it reinforces for me class was not a task.  We are in class for 85 minutes and this is a long period of time to stay focused for someone who does not have the same love for the subject of mathematics as I do.  If I can keep them participating and attentive for the whole class period and they think that class went by fast, I feel that I am helping them to enjoy the content being taught that day.  Even though I do not get many of my students until they are seniors, I still have an opportunity to instill confidence in their mathematics skills and help them to understand that they are strong enough in their knowledge of mathematics to either major or minor in this subject when pursuing their degree.  It is always very exciting to me when a student tells me that they have decided to continue their studies in a math related field.

In addition to instructing on subject matter, teaching provides a perfect opportunity for me to help students realize how their education can be so much more powerful when they interact with others.  Almost every class period after I have introduced the new material, I send my students to the board to practice.  I work to incorporate group sessions into lesson plans throughout the year, enabling students to become very comfortable working together and receiving constructive critiques from their peers.  I feel that this is my opportunity to encourage them to seek help from each other and to help them learn to be part of a group. 

Teaching has allowed me to be part of a continually challenging, changing and rewarding career.  I have the opportunity to be a life-long learner through attending many conferences, being surrounded and challenged by great educators, and gaining exposure to new techniques for teaching curriculum.  If I do not personally get to attend a conference, I look to be mentored by peers who did attend.  When asked to teach a course through our Global Campus summer school program, I was very excited as this would give me the opportunity to learn about our new school technology called Canvas. My first summer with the program, I learned how to make quizzes, post power points, grade on-line projects and communicate with students and parents.  This new outlet to educate and interact with students really motivated and expanded my reach from an educational perspective.