Four Southeast Alaska teachers were among more than 30 Alaska teachers honored as 2012 BP Teachers of Excellence, including two from Juneau. The BP Teachers of Excellence program was expanded in 2012 and opened to all Alaska school districts. The statewide program attracted more than 1,400 nominations.
The Southeast winners are: Jo Dahl, Johnson Youth Center in Juneau; Michael Mahoney, Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka; Tom McKenna, Harborview Elementary School in Juneau; and Mark O’Brien, Houghtaling Elementary School in Ketchikan.
The program recognizes teachers for their dedication to teaching and for inspiring students. Each teacher receives a $500 gift card and an award certificate. In addition, the teacher’s school receives a matching $500.
• Dahl teaches grades 9-12 at Johnson Youth Center in Juneau, where she has taught 13 years of her 37-year education career. She works to establish a firm teacher to student relationship, and instills a long-term work ethic that leads to high school graduation. Her nominator said she began the Johnson Youth Center gardening program which provides healthy outdoor activities for the students and also produced prize winning vegetables for the Community Harvest Fair. The JYC Battle of the Books team revived high school Battle of the Books competition in Juneau. The JYC team has qualified for state competition the last five out of eight years.
• Mahoney teaches grades 9-12 at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. A lifelong Alaskan, Mahoney grew up in Kodiak and has been teaching for 14 years at Mt. Edgecumbe. In partnership with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Mahoney created a sea-technology internship program where his students study whale acoustics.
• McKenna teaches fourth grade at Harborview Elementary School in Juneau. During his 18-year education career, McKenna recognized connecting with families is the key to students reaching their full potential. He uses technology to connect students to outside resources. His students learn about Alaska’s regions and environment by communicating with students in Barrow. Parents are able to view his classroom work, newsletters and calendar on line.
• O’Brien teaches fifth grade at Houghtaling Elementary School in Ketchikan. He maintains an after-school homework club and plans to start a robotics program in the coming school year. O’Brien encourages connections in the community. His students adopted the Pioneer Home as their class community service program. O’Brien also serves on the Alaska Science Consortium, which provides professional development opportunities for teachers throughout the state.