Carrasco wins “Teacher of the Year” award

DSC_4641You can find World Geography teacher Katie Carrasco in her freshly painted classroom with the desks in clusters, maps on the wall, and decorations hanging from the ceiling. This year, a new decoration is the Teacher of the Year award. After teachers voted on the nominations, Carrasco won this year’s award on Jan. 27 in a celebration in the library.

“[The award] means that my colleagues see me as a valuable part of the McCallum community,” Carrasco said. “It’s a hard thing because we don’t ever get to go watch other teachers teach, so part of me thinks, ‘How does anybody really know how good I am or not in my classes?’ So it means that they must hear good things from students, which is really more meaningful to me that students think I’m doing a good job.”

Senior Bailey Saldana has been with Carrasco as a student or a teacher aide for the last three years.

“I feel like she deserves it because she embodies what a teacher is supposed to do,” Saldana said. “She doesn’t just tell you stuff. She actually cares if you get it and cares about what’s going on outside of school.”

Carrasco said the most rewarding experience of being a teacher has been seeing the impact on the students’ lives.

“[It’s rewarding] to hear from students after they left my class, whether it’s colleges they’ve chosen or careers they’ve chosen, or just knowing that they’re still thinking about my class on into the future,” she said. “It’s not just opening their eyes during this year that I have them, but then knowing that it resonated into the future.”

Carrasco’s work to make this kind of impact was recognized with the award this year.

“The hardest thing about teaching to me is managing time,” she said. “I have 185 students this year. More personally, I have a hard time letting go, so at the end of the day I’ll still be thinking about stuff that’s happened at school. I think of the kids like they’re my own. I guess that’s why I love teaching freshmen.”

Saldana said what makes Carrasco a great teacher is that she has the ability to make her students enjoy the class and learn about the world. Carrasco has taught a variety of subjects, including economics and AVID as well as soccer and volleyball, for 11 years.

Carrasco said she believes every kid deserves a fair chance at an education.

“I think at the heart of public education, it’s going to be different for different people, but everyone deserves an opportunity,” Carrasco said. “So I see it as my mission or my philosophy to take whatever group of students, and whether it’s that they think about my content from class, that’s not as important as learning to be a better citizen of the world. It’s not just about their own little teenage experience; they are part of the world. I think that’s why I wanted to be a social studies teacher.”

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