Zachary Griffith, 3rd Grade Teacher at Sarah J. Anderson Elementary in Vancouver, Washington
Nominated By: Kathryn Pearson (parent)
Mr. Griffith not only handles an unusually large class of 31+ 3rd grade students, but he does it in a way that makes even the most reserved student want to participate. The most hyper student is calm around him. The most contrary personality wants to please him. It's his first year as a full-time teacher and he is doing a phenomenal job managing such a large class. Our school is doing an "experiment" with the 3rd graders, eliminating one full class and adding those students to the previously full classes, and using the remaining teacher as a rotating helper. With such a sudden increase of bodies and personalities to educate and keep safe and healthy every day, Mr. Griffith is doing a great job. It's his first full-time teaching year and I'd like to acknowledge his good work and encourage him to stay with us and be the energetic and organized teacher he is for many years to come! I feel strongly that having any kind of recognition is valuable and we (the parents of his students) appreciate all he does to encourage, educate and make school an enjoyable experience for our children. Third grade can be a tough year for many kids and I'm so grateful my kid got placed with Mr. Griffith.
Congrats, Zachary , from all of us at K103! Get to know Zachary Griffith:
What inspired you to become an educator?
I have always enjoyed working with youth, albeit it at first it was through sports. I guess the moment that really inspired or encouraged me to go into education was during college. My brother and his wife lost their infant son after a very long and intense battle. Seeing my brother (who I am very close to) go through something so painful yet find so much strength had a huge impact on me. From that moment on I knew more than ever how precious and short life is. I also knew that I wanted to make a career out serving and giving by way of empowering the next generation. If at the end of my career I can say that I know that I made a positive impact on even just one student, then my life served its purpose.
What do you like most about teaching?
It is incredibly inspiring to see students achieve that ‘lightbulb’ moment. Kids learn so differently so it is very natural to learn many different styles and techniques for teaching. Working hard to find that unique way a boy or girl can have the lightbulb go off in their own way is ALWAYS worth the work put in. It’s also very rewarding to have a student rush you with a hug after a long, difficult day. Kids are often amazing at being able to read adults.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
My teaching career isn’t too seasoned yet but I have been working with kids for about 6 years. In that time it has been fascinating to see how in sync children have become with their world around them. With media all around us, sometimes this can be a positive or negative experience and tool. It has shown me, overall, how aware and engaged kids are with our world. I do not remember having such an awareness at that age or even recall kids being so tuned in even half a decade ago.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
Teachers genuinely care about the safety and success of EVERY single student. We will work weekends, evenings, or come in early to do the smallest or biggest task if there is a chance it’ll pay off for even just one student. Evert single child is worth every second of preparation and self-education.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
Not too recently I was teaching several lessons on vocabulary and context clues. It had been a tough week and I was beginning to second guess my approach to this challenging subject. Towards the end of the day a student who has particular challenges staying on task and keeping caught up on work approached me to ask for help. He had been writing a fictional story and said, ‘I need help finding a strong synonym for a word in my story.’ That small request had such a wonderful impact on me. In that moment, an eight year old student encouraged me.