Alex Warren, 2nd / 3rd Grade Blend Teacher at Boeckman Creek Primary School in Wilsonville, Oregon
Nominated by Dave Backen (her father)
Alex is a wonder with her students. They love her and she figures out how to get the most out of each of them. She was born to be a teacher! (100)
In Alex's classroom everyone is equal and there is an atmosphere of inclusiveness. Each of her students know that Alex wants them to be there and that she cares a great deal for them. She can do amazing things, especially with those students who appreciate some extra care. She connects with kids in a way that is rare to see in a teacher. Her classroom test scores have consistently been way above the average for her school and her District. She understands how to reach students so that they learn...they all learn.
Not only do students learn extremely well in her class, but they have fun too! She will kid with them and interacts with them in ways that make her students want to come to school. She has had many parents tell her that their child now likes school, sometimes for the first time. She just seems to understand what the needs of each student are and then finds ways to fulfill those individual student needs. Kindness is a rule in her classroom, not an exception. Everyone is referred to as "friends." You may see Alex talking to a student who is upset and lying on the floor...and Alex is lying right next to them, comforting them and helping them to get up and back into the flow of the class. When you see her in the classroom and the love between her and her students, you immediately know she is doing what she was meant to do.
Alex also teaches Masters of Education classes for George Fox's program. She went through the program herself to obtain her teaching degree and they loved her so much, they asked her (a couple years later) to be an adjunct professor for them. She teaches two classes annually for George Fox and gets very good evaluations from her students, many of whom are older than she is.
Alex is teaching a 2/3 blend this year due the fact there were not enough students for a full class of either grade. Her Principal asked for volunteers and Alex naturally raised her hand. Not only do you have to learn/teach two separate curricula, but 3rd grade is a major testing grade, so she will need to pay special attention to that.
Since she taught 2nd grade last year, her past students (actually their parents) were given the opportunity to opt in, or volunteer to be in Alex's 2/3 blended classroom. Her Principal said that she typically only gets a few "volunteers" for this type of situation. In this case, Alex's had more volunteers than spots in her classroom. Many (parents and students) were delighted they might possibly have Alex as a teacher again. As an ex-school board member, i actually do know how rare this is.
Lastly, just as another fun fact, Alex has a bearded dragon as a class pet...the kids love it!
Congrats, Alex, from all of us at K103! Get to know Alex Warren:
What inspired you to become an educator?
I come from a family of educators and grew up knowing that I wanted to work with kids- however, I was not sure in what capacity. I graduated from UofO with a sociology degree and took some time to decide. I thought about social work and nonprofit work with children's organizations. For a time, I think that teaching was seemed to actually be too obvious of a choice. Then one day I went to volunteer in my friends kindergarten classroom and instantly fell in love. In a short hour, I knew that this is what I wanted to be my life's work.
What do you like most about teaching?
I am a relationship person. To me, a strong teacher greatly values her relationships- with students, parents, and other educators alike. I love cultivating these connections and helping to build a community in my classroom. Getting to know each child for exactly whomever he or she is, allows me to learn how to best differentiate and meet their individual social, emotional, and academic needs. I love fostering this relationship with my students and family's and in doing so figure out how to be the best teacher possible for each one!
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
Teaching is an ever changing profession! You can always be better, do better, and refine your practice. This is something I absolutely love about it- it is never stagnant. I do not know that there is one specific thing that has changed, but more so a change in mentality that educators have had to learn to be flexible and adaptable while still holding strong to what they know to be true about good teaching.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
That I love what I do and I love your child! Through the ah-ha moments, the tough conversations, and the day-to-day routines, I adore every second of getting to be part of your child's elementary journey! I am on your child's side and will always stand beside you in being one of their greatest cheerleaders and advocates.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
One of both my favorite and most proud memories in my years of teaching was surrounding an opinion writing unit I did with a third grade class. Our class had just read the beautiful novel, The One and Only Ivan which deals with concepts of animal cruelty and captivity. Our class was full of animal lovers, and so it made sense to continue down that journey as we started a new writing unit. Our class studied Orcas and dolphins held in captivity in the United States. They read articles, did research, studied both sides of the debate, and ultimately formed an opinion and wrote an essay about if they felt it was acceptable to keep these creatures in captivity. In order to really empower them to have their voices heard, each student got to send a letter to an organization (like Seaworld) or government official of their choice urging them to support their opinion and explaining why. This unit took place in the spring... fast forward to the following Fall and news spread that Sea World had decided to end their program with Orcas going forward. I remember students racing down the hall that week from their fourth grade classes and proudly and excitedly telling me about it and asking if our class had in some way helped. It was a beautiful moment in empowering young children to get involved in their world, and research to make informed decisions about important issues and policy and then figure out a platform to have their voices heard. My heart could not have been fuller on their behalf!