CUE: What does winning the CUE Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award mean to you?

Winning the CUE Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award is a tremendous honor to be among the group of such talented teachers who have received the award in the past. It affirms my efforts to bring the best use of technology to my students. I am learning along with my students and have a strong desire to keep learning and sharing my passion with other teachers.

Tell me about your position and scope of responsibilities at Stanley Middle School?

I am an engineering/robotics teacher at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette. I am in the electives department and teach two 6th grade exploratory wheels, and two 7th grade exploratory wheels. The wheel students are with me for about 8 weeks where they do a variety of engineering and robotics type challenges working on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. I teach two year-long 8th grade engineering/robotics classes. These students go into much greater depth on the types of challenges in which they are involved.

Why did you choose to become an educator?

I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was very young, probably in 5th or 6th grade.  I had teachers who knew I wanted to be a teacher and actually let me teach lessons in middle school. Sharing my interests and coming up with creative ways of presenting a topic are probably the main reason I chose to be an educator.  I can remember sitting in class and thinking as some lessons were being taught, that there must be a better and more creative way of doing this. My entire career has been in pursuit of making my lessons and experiences more engaging and productive.

What is the biggest challenge facing California schools today and how can it be overcome?

The greatest challenge facing California schools is lack of funding and attracting talented new teachers into the field. Legislators really need to do the right thing and do what is best for students. Students’ futures should not be a roller coaster ride based on how generous or limited the annual budget is.

When did you join CUE and why?

I joined CUE to collaborate with like-minded people eager to make a difference in the classroom using technology. I have been to and presented at several events and the experience has been fulfilling. The talent and enthusiasm within the group is contagious and spills over into my classroom.

Where does CUE need to grow?

CUE is on the absolute right path. I can’t really think of any areas where growth needs to be made.

Where are you from and what do you like to do in your limited spare time?

I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I am teaching in the middle school I attended as a child. In my limited spare time I like to hike. I am an avid maker with a well-equipped shop. Electronics is my new interest. Arduino is something I want to bring into my classroom to allow my students to experience animatronics. What could be better than bringing Disneyland into the classroom?

About lkopochinski