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Becky Mitchell, Idaho Teacher of the Year 2018
posted by: Cindy Omlin | September 18, 2017, 07:47 PM   

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Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherry Ybarra notes in her press release about Mrs. Mitchell’s award, “Educators are in the business of human elevation, and Mrs. Mitchell demonstrates that every day . . . In her years at Vision, she has immersed herself in teaching dual-credit classes, where her high school students earn college credits in courses ranging from chemistry, physics and engineering to English composition.”  Intensely interested in helping her students receive higher education, she noted in her application, “I would like to be the spokesperson for ‘going on,’ for encouraging this generation to jump with their parachute and grab the future.”

Forty one percent of seniors at Vision Charter School are on track to graduate with one or more Associates degrees from the College of Western Idaho three weeks before they graduate from high school. Ninety percent of Vision High School teachers offer their course work at the high school and college level through Idaho universities.

Ms. Wendy Oldenkamp, Vision Charter School administrator, characterizes Ms. Mitchell as a masterful teacher who has “implemented a challenging blend of new online learning platforms into her classroom instruction and created a classroom environment where dynamic differentiation is the norm.”  She “has a long track record of bringing English to life for her students, cultivating lovers of literature, the classics, and drama.  Her students are drawn in by her flair and personality, but quickly catch her contagious love of learning.”

Mrs. Mitchell serves as Vision Charter School’s English Language Arts department chair and Lead Teacher for Secondary Education.  Her education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry Education and English Education and she also has a Master’s degree in Science Education.  Her science students have competed at Imagine Tomorrow at Washington State University winning awards in two different categories.

Mrs. Mitchell initiated the school’s robotics program which has grown into FIRST® LEGO® League and two FIRST Tech Challenge teams.  In addition to her exemplary teaching and leadership at Vision Charter School, Ms. Mitchell also serves as a Teacher Mentor for the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program, guiding teams through their summer academy at Boise State University and NASA Ames Research Center.

As Vision Charter School’s Drama Director, Mrs. Mitchell added a broadcasting class for which she won a grant from Northwest Professional Educators.  (See Becky Mitchell wins NWPE grant!)  The class produces school news programs and advertising campaigns.  Mrs. Mitchell believes that the professionalism of educators will be enhanced if students take charge of their own education through creative endeavors like the broadcasting project.  The benefit for teachers is that they will be better respected for their investment in students and their education.

Ms. Mitchell has won the admiration of students and parents alike.  One parent characterizes her as the “crowning jewel” of the school saying, “If she can dream it, her students achieve it!”  Students often consider Ms. Mitchell a second mom and deeply appreciate her caring as well as her high expectations.  They sum up well why she won this tremendous honor.  “There are plenty of good teachers in this world:  Teachers who are good at what subject they teach and those who have the ability to connect with students through learning.  There are teachers that are very nice and caring, and there are teachers that earn the trust of their students.  However, it is very rare that you find a teacher who possesses all these traits. Mrs. Mitchell has become a second mom to all of us, and we will always lover her for what she has taught us about English, but especially what she has taught us about life.”  Another student gushes, “Mrs. Mitchell has made a huge impact on my life, and I wouldn’t be on the path of education that I am currently on if it wasn’t for her motivation and support.  I firmly believe that no other teacher, besides Mrs. Mitchell, comes even close to receiving this award.”

In other news from Vision Charter School, NWPE member Jason George was recently named a winner of the INDEEDS Awards, the Industry’s Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM award, the second time he has received this award.  He will receive a check for $2,000, and funding to attend any STEM-related national conference.  His school will also receive $2,000 to fund STEM initiatives.  See STEM Action Center to Honor Innovative Teachers.  Mr. George received the Governor’s Industry Award for Notable Teaching in STEM in 2012 and was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching last year.

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