Local teachers recognized for teaching excellence

Two area teachers are among seven Kenai Peninsula Borough teachers honored as 2013 BP Teachers of Excellence.

Donna Austin teaches kindergarten at Chapman Elementary School in Anchor Point. She has 26 years of experience and was described by colleagues at “exceptional” and “amazing.” In BP’s announcement, Austin was noted for inspiring her students with kindness, patience and commitment, “taking a genuine interest in each one.” She listens to her students’ ideas, asks them what they are interested in learning and helps them discover new ideas. The youngsters in her class are in involved in community events, such as cleanup, and active in the school’s math and science night.

“She tells her students they can do it, she believes they can, and she then praises their accomplishments,” said BP.

Austin has been recognized as a Who’s Who teacher and is a recipient of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board’s “Golden Apple Award.”

Lyn Maslow teaches fourth-grade at West Homer Elementary School.

“Maslow’s goal is to create a classroom where students are willing to express ideas, take risks, learn from each other, and celebrate success,” said BP. “She believes learning comes in a challenging, purposeful, and cooperative environment where different learning styles and passions are supported.”

With almost 30 years in education, Maslow involves her students in a wide range of activities, such as marine monitoring projects, planting and harvesting community gardens, and building a schoolyard habitat and nature trail. She also is the cosponsor of West Homer Elementary School’s student council.

Also selected as Kenai Peninsula Teachers of Excellence were Sue Biggs, a music teacher at Redoubt Elementary School in Soldotna; Myla Liljemark, a social studies teacher at Seward Middle School in Seward; Renee Merkes, a math teacher at Soldotna High School in Soldotna; Robert Sparks, a social studies teacher, 10th-grade world history teacher and 12th-grade government teacher at Skyview High School in Soldotna; and Greg Zorbas, a 10th-grade world history teacher at Kenai Central High School in Kenai.
The Teachers of Excellence program recognizes Alaska teachers for their dedication to teaching and inspiring students. The program received almost 1,400 nominations this year. The seven Kenai Peninsula teachers were among more than 30 being honored as 2013 Teachers of Excellence. Each teacher will receive a $500 gift card and an award certificate. In addition, each teacher’s school receives a matching $500 grant.

One Kenai Peninsula teacher will be chosen as BP’s Teacher of the Year to be announced at a reception at the Soldotna Senior Center at 6 p.m. May 1. That teacher will receive a $1,500 scholarship for continuing education and a bronze sculpture by Alaska artist Mary Regat.