ANCHORAGE — Four teachers from Southeast Alaska are among more than 30 Alaska teachers honored as 2013 BP Teachers of Excellence. The 18th Annual BP Teachers of Excellence program received nearly 1,400 nominations from across Alaska.
The 2013 BP Teachers of Excellence are:
Roxanne Abajian of Fawn Mountain Elementary School in Ketchikan, Jean Jackson of Klawock School, Jen Lium of Riverbend Elementary School in Juneau and Jessie Soder of Gustavus School.
The BP Teachers of Excellence program recognizes teachers throughout Alaska for their dedication to teaching and for inspiring students. The BP Teachers of Excellence program expanded last year, becoming available to all Alaska school districts. 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.
“Recognizing outstanding Alaska educators is among the most rewarding and important aspects of BP’s investment in Alaska,” said Phil Cochrane, Vice President of External Affairs, BP Exploration. “It is an honor to say thank you to these teachers who are investing themselves to make sure Alaska’s young people are receiving the best possible education as they head down the path to future success.”
Roxanne Abajian teaches fourth grade at Fawn Mountain Elementary School in Ketchikan. Her students say she is firm, fun and fair. Abajian sets high standards for teaching and learning, and brings a style to the classroom of being tough, loving, clever and flexible. She says she unites her caring with her craft which requires that she be a learner and stay on top of her craft, always alert to ways she can provide more effective instruction. In her 34-year teaching career, Abajian has initiated and established several new programs in Ketchikan’s public schools, she is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, was selected to help write the Alaska State Content Standards in Science for elementary grades, and is the founder of a public charter school, the Tongass School of Arts and Sciences.
Jean Jackson teaches third and fourth grade at Klawock School. Her teaching style is driven by three words: passion, respect and humor. She tries to bring topics alive with updated materials and methods, and injects humor where appropriate. She aims to make sure her students feel valued and respected and believes her hard work ethic inspires her students to work hard. Having grown up in Klawock, Jackson continually teaches about the Tlingit culture, bringing in elders and other community members. She is the co-director of the Prince of Wales marathon and is working with the City of Klawock on plans to raise more Tlingit totem poles.
Jen Lium teaches second grade at Riverbend Elementary School in Juneau. Lium sets high expectations for her students and teaches them to be respectful, responsible and safe. She believes learning is a lifelong process, and you don’t achieve or succeed unless you try your best every time. Second grade is a year of independence, and she doesn’t allow her students to make excuses for themselves, but allows room for growth by making up and fixing problems when they happen. Her classroom has an open-door policy where parents, community volunteers, student teachers and others are welcome to come add to the learning atmosphere. Lium takes many hours of continuing education and training to keep her teaching fresh and inspiring.
Jessie Soder teaches fourth and fifth grade at Gustavus School. Learning in Soder’s classroom involves hands-on and exploratory projects, not just memorization of facts. She strives to make learning real and relevant to the lives of her students and helps them complete work they are proud of. Achievements in and out of school are honored and acknowledged in the classroom. Soder’s students often venture outside for lessons incorporating science and the natural environment. Each year students conduct a year-long scientific study that culminates in a multi-media presentation for the school and the community. She has been awarded several honors and grants that she turns around and uses to enhance her class and her teaching.