Featured Teacher Kaylee Lo - May 2019


Shiloh Martinson, Kaylee Lo, Tristan Martinson

Kaylee recalls with certainty “I knew in first grade that I wanted to be a teacher someday,” which to me seems early. I focused on jokes, snacks and naps back then. She was so impressed with her teacher that she made efforts to be her assistant, unsolicited, and offered the same instructional prowess to her younger brothers at home. I bet they are still thankful today.

It’s no surprise Kaylee has taught first graders at Cataldo Catholic School in Spokane, WA for the last eight years. She strikes me as a cosmic fit for that room, that school, that age group and those kids. Cataldo attracts a lot of parent volunteer time and they want their kids there for good reason. Kaylee appreciates that the communal efforts to educate students in cooperative learning, mutual respect and positive decision making are as strong as those focused on core subjects. I ask what makes her the most proud of her students and she confidently replies, “when they do their best,” which is a completely generic phrase that instead bears crucial significance when I hear her say it.

Kaylee is our first featured teacher based on a complete and utter bias: she made a substantial impression on two members of my family. She has thus earned a complimentary graduate credit course (she is thinking about Disciplinary Literacy) as well as a discount for every educator in her school.

She’s very comfortable shopping for PD and taking courses online but knows that some teachers in her school might shy away from the new-ish approach. She asks if I'm willing to come to a staff meeting and walk interested folks through that process. Actually, I’d be thrilled to do so. I hadn’t offered because I thought it might interfere with the important thing that occurs there - teaching. She feels like the teachers need a great option to engage professional development and simply need to be shown the ropes one time through.

Kaylee taught my niece five years ago and my nephew three years later. Her insights suggest things about them that I probably know but haven’t yet vocalized. “Tristan will pretend he doesn’t know how to do math problems because he wants you to do it with him. Just tell him a joke and get him laughing and he will finish faster than all the other kids.” This level of understanding has me awestruck. She spent more time with him than I did that year, so I shouldn’t be so surprised.

Last year she completed our Integrating iPads into the Classroom course online. Twenty iPads had been donated to her class and she was hoping to learn some useful educational suites and programs, but also sought tips on how to organize twenty first graders on twenty devices to work through a structured lesson in unison. That’s an issue I wouldn’t have considered and I plan to pass that along to our content writers. We’ve been discussing often lately the importance of staying ahead of an already accelerated curve regarding classroom technology; feedback goes a long way to keep us on track with that.

She loves to run, mostly because it happens in the fresh natural air of pine tree-peppered Eastern Washington. Her favorite treat from students is a cupcake. Those responses sort of cancel each other out. Let’s call them balanced, which is descriptive of our entire conversation which crawls all over the topical landscape. Kaylee herself exudes a wholesome and balanced demeanor which might be her best utensil in shaping the skills and personalities of twenty six-year-olds. Maybe I’m influenced by the atmosphere of her classroom and my nostalgia toward grade school, but I think she expresses the magnetic talents and optimism that we are idealizing in our teachers. She has earned this recognition and much more, as do most of you.

If you’d like to nominate a Featured Teacher for the future send details in an email to featuredteacher@connectinglink.com.

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Ike Martinson
Ike is addicted to life in the Pacific Northwest. He enjoys the mountains, the lakes, the food, the people and all the seasons. He is an amateur chef, a commercial pilot and a terrible painter.

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