Laura Christensen, 4th Grade Teacher at Gaston Elementary School in Gaston, Oregon
Nominated by Melody McMaster (fellow educator)
Laura Christensen is a fourth grade teacher that is helping to create positive changes for her students in her classroom. Though Laura has been teaching for several years, this is her first year at our school and she has already made a significant difference in her student’s lives. Several students who struggled academically for the past few years are already showing huge academic gains. Laura’s strongest asset is her classroom management style. Students who had behavioral issues have made substantial changes and are no longer out of the classroom with behavior referrals. Laura has set up specific routines so students know exactly what is expected of them and they strive hard to meet these expectations. These positive changes are not only noticed within her classroom but also on the playground, the lunchroom and in the hallways. Her students think Ms. Christensen is very nice and she really cares about them. Laura is making an incredible difference not only in her classroom but also within our school. She definitely deserves to be the K103 educator of the week.
Congrats Laura, from all of us at K103!
Get to know Laura!
What inspired you to become an educator?
When I think back to my childhood, I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything but a teacher. I enjoy helping people learn things and accomplish goals, and have always had a knack for understanding and getting along with children.
What do you like most about teaching?
I get a lot of satisfaction from forging relationships with my students, building upon those relationships to encourage them to outperform their own expectations, and then watching them succeed. I have the opportunity to positively influence at least 30 people a day, and that makes me immensely happy.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
In my first year of teaching, I struggled to balance the positive relationship I had with my students with the need for respect and structure in my classroom. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to work with some extremely talented educators, and have learned as much as I can from them. From a 1st grade teacher, I learned to be consistently firm, but kind. From a 2nd grade teacher, I learned to be organized (or to have your management be tight enough to get organized real quick). From a 4th grade teacher I learned to form real and honest relationships with students so that they believe you when you say they can do it. Finally, I wouldn't be where I am today without my older sister and fellow educator, Christina, who has been teaching me my entire life. I have changed immensely since I began my career in education, and I'm looking forward to continued growth.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
I would like parents to know that as their child’s teacher, I am on their team. I believe that when parents know I care about their child’s well-being, both academically and emotionally, we can form a strong relationship of consistency and support that spans school and home.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
A year ago, with the help of YouTube, I taught myself how to "play" the ukulele. I’m definitely not great at it, but my students have always been interested in my efforts and improvement. One of my favorite recent memories was when I accompanied some of my 3rd grade students on the ukulele while they sang a song about volcanoes at the talent show. Working as a team in preparation for the event had the added effect of strengthening our classroom community.